Academic Curriculum Vitae
Dr. Silverstone trained in Medicine at the University of London, England, graduating as a physician before spending 4-years working in various medical and surgical specialties. He then completed a 3-year residency training in psychiatry at the prestigious Maudsley Hospital and Institute of Psychiatry in London.
Following this he spent 3 years as a Research Fellow at the University of Oxford and during this period gained his research Medical Doctoral degree (MD, in the UK which is equivalent to a PhD). He left Oxford to join the University of Alberta in 1992 as a Professor.
His previous research activities have been in multiple areas in psychiatry and mental health (see next section) and he has received research grants and funding from a wide source of agencies. His research has been impactful with a current h-index for research of 41 according to Google Scholar (in the range for an “outstanding scientist”).
To date, he has over 140 peer-reviewed publications which have been cited more than 3,500 times, and viewed online more than 100,000 times. He was continuously funded by Alberta-based research groups for over 15 years.
He has obtained peer-reviewed grant funding as principal investigator from multiple funding bodies including the Canadian Institute for Health Research (CIHR), Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council (SSHRC), the Canadian Psychiatric Research Foundation, as well as US peer review funding agencies.
He was the inaugural Scientific Director for the Strategic Clinical Network in Addiction and Mental Health (SCN) for Alberta Health Services. This involved helping develop and support research activities in several clinical areas.
Additionally, he continues to have a clinical practice and see new patients for single visit consultations in psychiatry, carried out in close collaboration with their family practice physician. This also allows him to remain aware of current treatments and approaches, and to reflect current research in his clinical practice.
He has also been involved in a large number of clinical studies, and he has also had involvement in a variety of businesses and boards, and he holds a cross-appointment with the Faculty of Business at the University of Alberta.
He has a strong family background in neuroscience and mental health research, following in his late-father’s footsteps (Professor J. Trevor Silverstone).
Research Summary: Current Research
(1) Prevention and early identification of mental health issues. School-based approaches. Working in close collaboration with Red Deer Public school district, he led an AHS and University of Alberta team that developed a novel program designed to reduce the risk of youth trying to harm themselves, as well as to reduce depression, anxiety, and the use of drugs, alcohol, and tobacco. This unique program (EMPATHY – Empowering a Multimodal Pathway Towards Health Youth) was implemented in over 6,200 students aged 11-18, and was very successful. It considerably reduced suicidal thinking, depression, anxiety, bullying, and drug and alcohol abuse in Grades 6-12. It continues in place.
He continues to work with Fort McMurray Catholic and Public school boards to identify the rates of depression and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) in over 5,000 youth in Grades 7-12 following the 2016 Wildfire. Sadly, these rates are very high, and are not decreasing with time.
Current research includes developing and implementing programs to reduce incidence and prevalence of psychiatric conditions in children and youth using school-based approaches.
(2) Child Sexual Abuse, education, prevention, and treatment. In a series of studies he led a team that developed a novel, intensive, program to treat youth who were victims of child sexual abuse. The program involved brief intensive on-site programs at a purpose designed ranch-like location. These programs led to significant improvements for survivors aged 8-16 in multiple areas, including reduction of risk of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), depression, and anxiety. Program development continues in this area.
With a former PhD student he also helped develop a Canadian novel training program for adults that helps empower individuals and groups to reduce the risk of subsequent Child Sexual Abuse.
(3) Brain imaging studies:
(a) Using neuroimaging in bipolar disorder and depression, including magnetic resonance spectroscopy (MRS) and functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) to examine changes in both healthy controls and patients. He has been involved in research in this area for over 25 years. Most recently he is part of a team that recently published work on subtle structural changes that occur in the hippocampus and amygdala in the brains of depressed individuals, which can be caused by early childhood stressors. This latter finding is important and may have major implications for the links between childhood trauma and subsequent development of psychiatric disorders. Plans include future studies to investigate this in further detail.
(b) Differences between male and females
With a previous PhD student he was also one of the very first to show that males and females use different areas of the brain to solve the same problems.
(c) Impact of “expert” advice
In collaboration with a highly respected colleague from the Business School at the University of Alberta, and a PhD student, he developed an novel investment paradigm to measure brain changes in various situations. This group was the first to show specific brain changes when subjects followed “expert” advice, even when it was wrong 100% of the time.
Other and Older Areas of Research
(4) Police training, resiliency, and PTSD prevention. In collaboration with a former PhD student for several years he was involved in designing novel training for police forces to help them interact better with individuals who may have mental health issues. This focused on increasing their levels of empathic communication skills and de-escalation techniques. As part of this program over 650 police officers were trained and followed up for 6 months. To date this is the only rigorously controlled program that has shown long-term behavioural improvements, including reduced use of force. This has now been developed into a unique on-line training program currently offered to Police forces internationally. Ongoing development involves developing a novel program to increase resiliency in first-responders (including police), and help reduce the risk of them subsequently developing post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).
(5) The role of low self-esteem in psychiatric illness. He started publishing in this area in 1990 and continue to have an interest in this area. He determined how frequently low self-esteem occured in a wide range of psychiatric illness, and that it is closely linked to many longer-term psychiatric issues. In 1992 he also proposed a hypothesis that low self-esteem is a key predisposing factor for eating disorders, which appears to continue to be substantiated.
(6) Screening for Depression in primary care. He led a team that carried out a novel, carefully controlled, study in 2014 and 2015 in which individuals in family practice waiting areas were screened for depression. They were then randomly assigned to several different treatment arms with follow-up at 3-months. The team included over 1,500 individuals but, somewhat surprisingly, found that screening and interventions did not improve outcomes.
(7) Multiple studies in the area of bipolar disorder. For over 15 years this was his primary area of research and focused on two major areas, in addition to the brain imaging studies carried out in this area of research: (i) The utility of dextroamphetamine as a model for mania in healthy volunteers, which supported this as a useful tool to help better understand the biochemistry of mania; (ii) Determining if the positive clinical effects of lithium in bipolar disorder might be due to the role of an intracellular second messenger system involving inositol (IP3). This was a series of studies involving multiple technologies carried out in a wide range of areas including both human volunteers and patients.
(8) Extensive testing of potential new psychiatric medications. For many years he was a clinical investigator in more than 40 clinical research studies of potential new medications. These were for the treatment of multiple psychiatric disorders, including depression, bipolar disorder, anxiety, and schizophrenia. He also helped design a novel version of the antidepressant, bupropion, with a reduced risk of seizures. This is available in the USA.
(9) Depression in medically-ill patients, including myocardial infarction. This was the subject of his doctoral research in 1988 (PhD equivalent), and he was among the first to show that having depression led to much worse outcomes in medically ill patients, in a several medical conditions, even though individuals with and without depression had a similar level of severity. In one of his first independent pieces of research he concluded that “depression in men in the first 24 hours after myocardial infarction [heart attack] represents a considerably increased risk of early death, re-infarction, or cardiac arrest”. Unfortunately, depression is still poorly recognized as an independent risk factor for myocardial infarction.
Current Academic Appointments:
1992 – present
Professor, Department of Psychiatry, University of Alberta, Edmonton, Alberta, Canada (note was Associate Professor 1992-1999, Full Professor from 1999)
2003 – present
Professor, Center for Neuroscience
University of Alberta, Edmonton, Alberta, Canada.
2013 – present
Adjunct Professor, Department of Strategic Management and Organization, Faculty of Business, University of Alberta.
Clinical training in Psychiatry was at the Institute for Psychiatry and Royal Bethlem Hospital, London, UK, from 1st April 1986 – 31st March 1989 during which he was supervised and taught either individually, or in very small groups, by some of the world’s leading researchers including Professor Gerard Russel (the man who first described Bulimia Nervosa), Professor Michal Rutter (described as the “father of child psychiatry”), Professor Alwyn Lishman (a leading individual in organic/consult-liaison psychiatry), and Professor Michael Shepherd (described as “one of the most influential and internationally respected psychiatrists of his time”). Much of this teaching was on the details and nuances of psychopathology and phenomenology (i.e. how best to elicit specific psychiatric symptoms and how to interpret subtle differences in responses between individuals, and what weight to put on these in terms of diagnoses and implications).
Prizes and Awards
Queen Elisabeth II Diamond Jubilee Medal (2012). Awarded by the Governor General of Canada
Alberta Heritage Foundation for Medical Research (2000-2013). Successive Scholarship then Senior Scholarship Awards
Alberta Heritage Foundation for Medical Research (1994-1997). Clinical Investigator Awards
University of Alberta Hospital (1995). President’s Award for Clinical Practice
Collegium Internationale Neuro-Psychopharmacologium (CINP), Rafaelsen Fellowship Award Young Psychopharmacologists (1994)
British Association for Psychopharmacology, SmithKline Beecham Prize for Young Psychopharmacologists (1992)
Oxford Regional Health Authority, Research Fellowship in Psychopharmacology, Oxford University (1989-1992).