Sutton Family Gift to Mental Health Research

Esteemed Toronto businessperson, Mr. J. Gregory Sutton, and his family, are pledging $250,000 to the Dalhousie Medical Research Foundation (DMRF), in support of severe mental health research. This pledge will be paid out over the next five years and will annually support the Sutton Family Research Assistant in Mental Health Innovation as well as a stipend for 125 patients. In particular, this gift will go toward the Families Overcoming Risks and Building Opportunities for Well-Being (FORBOW) program, a project led by world-renowned psychiatrist and researcher, Dr. Rudolf Uher. FORBOW is a longitudinal research study that focuses on early risk identification and interventions to prevent mental illness.

"The FORBOW research initiative resonated with me from the moment I learned about it," says Mr. Sutton. “The potential of early intervention and the preventing of mental illness in our children and young people is truly exciting and could have a tremendously positive impact here and around the world. I look forward to supporting the Dalhousie Medical Research Foundation for many years to come." Mr. Sutton is the President and CEO of Sutton Special Risk, a premier provider of specialized insurance products based out of Toronto, Ontario.

Knowing that mental illness typically runs in families where genetic predispositions are met with environmental factors, Dr. Uher and his research team are leading a novel initiative based on the hypothesis that early interventions – either in childhood or adolescence – can interrupt this cycle. With a goal of reducing the risk of mental illness, including bipolar disorder, major depression, anxiety disorders and schizophrenia, the FORBOW study is currently testing whether a variety of early interventions can prevent these conditions from occurring.

“These illnesses can be disabling, limiting the ability of those affected to reach their full potential in life,” says Dr. Uher. “These are also some of the most expensive, chronic illnesses to treat, and early intervention could benefit everyone, from individuals and families to taxpayers and society.” There are 483 participants between the ages of 0-24 enrolled in FORBOW.

"The Dalhousie Medical Research Foundation supports groundbreaking health research to advance health outcomes, and prevention is a fundamental aspect of this work,” explains DMRF CEO, Mr. Brian Thompson. “Mental health research is a key issue of our time and the Sutton family’s gift to FORBOW will not only ensure an important member of the FORBOW team is in place for the next five years, it will also provide 125 patients stipends, strengthening their ability to be consistently involved in this influential study.”