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Ashley Wazana

Ashley Wazana, MD, FRCP, MSc (Epi)

Psychosocial aspects of disease

Computational innovation, Developmental and prenatal origins of mental health, Developmental psychopathology, Gene-environment interactions, Perinatal mental health, Positive mental wellbeing, Prenatal programming, Resilience
  • Director, Psychosocial aspects of disease Research Axis, Lady Davis Institute for Medical Research
  • Director, Development Research in Environmental Adversity, Mental health, Biological vulnerability and Gender consortium (DREAM BIG)
  • Director, Early Childhood Disorders psychiatric day hospital, Jewish General Hospital
  • Associate Professor, Department of Psychiatry, McGill University
  • Associate Member, Department of Psychiatry, Montreal Children’s Hospital, McGill University Health Centre, Montreal
  • Associate Member, Department of Psychiatry, Centre de Sante et de Services Sociaux de la Vallée-de-l’Or, Val d’Or

Contact details

(514) 340-8222 ext. 27652

Assistant contact details

  • David Laplante,
    (514) 340-8222 ext. 27655


In founding the Developmental Research in Early Adversity Mental health BIological susceptibility and Gender (DREAM BIG) consortium, Dr. Ashley Wazana leads an international collaboration of seven prenatal cohorts (ALSPAC, GEN-R, MOBA, PREDO, MAVAN, GUSTO, and UBC) that harmonizes comparable cohorts so as to be able to ask replicatable questions about the complex interplay of genetic susceptibility and prenatal exposure in the prediction of mental illness both as observed phenotypes and measured brain changes. We innovate computational approaches for gene-environment interactions to comprehensively model sex-specific effects of prenatal programming, genetic susceptibility, and the influence of the early postnatal environment.

Dr. Ashley Wazana also examines the role of these same early development factors (environmental and genetic susceptibility) in understanding response to treatment (e.g.. child susceptibility, gender, modification of the early environment) in children and youth with severe psychopathology. He co-leads a DOHaD Canada national task force on the development of a perinatal index of susceptibility to inform precision medicine and early prevention. He is also participating in the development of a Canadian Framework for Brain Health, a nationally-funded initiative led by Dr. Laurence Kirmayer at McGill.

Major Research Activities

Dr. Ashley Wazana is a senior FRQS clinician-scientist in the Department of Psychiatry at the Jewish General Hospital. He runs a developmental research benchside to bedside laboratory. His goals are to understand the interplay of complex developmental factors (biological and environmental) in the emergence and treatment response of psychopathology. Specifically there are four axes of research:

  • Developmental Research in Early Adversity Mental health BIological susceptibility and Gender (DREAM BIG) research project. This collaboration of seven prenatal cohorts examines the complex interplay between children’s genetic makeup and their earliest environment (the environment in which they develop during pregnancy) in the prediction of mental illness. We are interested in how the early environment, such as parental care in the early years, stressors and social support influence this trajectory.
  • We are reconsenting the MAVAN cohort to examine in an adult cohort (MAVAN-R), developmental factors starting with early prenatal and developmental influences, outcomes, of mental wellbeing, mental disorders and resilience in adulthood.
  • Computational innovation and novel methods for modeling complex developmental models which includes large numbers of datapoints of varying modalities of assessment (genetic, imaging, phenotype, environment). This includes machine learning approaches.
  • Our clinical work includes identifying in clinical populations (Children in Child Psychiatric Day Hospitalizations, Suicidal Adolescents followed up after Emergency Hospital Care) a index of treatment response and sensitivity to inform early intervention and treatment. This includes embedding markers of treatment response in an electronic Patient response Outcome Measure platform (ePROM) and co-leading a national DOHaD taskforce to develop an bedside index of susceptibility to mental disorders and wellbeing.

Recent Publications and References