Affiliation(s): University of Calgary
Dr. Patten obtained a medical doctorate (MD) from the University of Alberta (Edmonton, Canada) in 1986 and subsequently a specialist certification (FRCPC) in Psychiatry in 1991. He completed a Ph.D. in epidemiology at the University of Calgary in 1994. Currently, he is a Professor in the Cumming School of Medicine at the University of Calgary, where he teaches Advanced Epidemiology. His research is concerned with the descriptive epidemiology of common mental disorders (especially depression) and medical-psychiatric comorbidity in the Canadian population. Methodologically, he is interested in longitudinal data analysis methods, simulation, and predictive modeling methods. He is a psychiatrist and member of the Medical Staff at the Peter Lougheed Centre (PLC) and the Foothills Medical Centre in Calgary.
How did you become interested in MS research? What inspires you to continue advancing research in this field?
My Ph.D. dissertation project was on drug-induced depression, so I became interested in the neuropsychiatric adverse effects of corticosteroids and, later, in the possibility that beta-interferons could cause depression. I am inspired to keep looking for ways to help improve the lives of people living with MS, a goal that is not limited to treatment options alone.
What do you enjoy most about doing research and what are some of the challenges you face?
The enjoyment of research for me derives from the ability of well-conducted studies to decisively answer questions - answers that would otherwise remain elusive.The challenges with this project arise from its complexity and ambitious goals. The research team will need to work together energetically and effectively to ensure that the study achieves its goals.
What is your role in the Canadian MS Progression Cohort?
I am helping with the epidemiology component and am looking forward to supporting the operational conduct of the study, data management, and analysis.
Describe the importance and level of collaboration in your research and in the Canadian MS Progression Cohort?
This project is highly collaborative since it will look at everything from neuroimmunology to health economics, and everything in between. Specialized researchers working on each of its pillars will benefit greatly from cross-fertilization across the study pillars.
How important is the support from the funders/donors in enabling you to conduct research?
Longitudinal research is very expensive but will pay considerable dividends due to the extent of causal inference that prospective designs can deliver.
Why is it important that patients take part in this initiative?
While some of the goals are neuroimmunological and technological, many of the goals are very personal, such as quality of life and participation in society. None of the scientific goals could be accomplished without the participation of patients and the results of the study may have the ability to influence policy and practice in ways that can benefit patients in the near term.
What potential outcomes do you expect to arise from the Canadian MS Progression Cohort?
A better understanding of what causes MS progression, what steps can be taken to reduce progression and what policies can be pursued to better support people in adaptive to progression.