Philip Gerretsen, MD, PhD
SPECIALTY AND TITLE
Geriatric Psychiatry, Clinician Scientist
Centre for Addiction and Mental Health
Department of Psychiatry, Faculty of Medicine, University of Toronto
AREA OF RESEARCH
Impaired illness awareness is a well-recognized, but understudied phenomenon that contributes to minimization and denial of the need for treatment with devastating clinical and social consequences. Dr. Gerretsen’s research has focused on the identification of the neural correlates of impaired illness awareness in schizophrenia primarily through structural and functional neuroimaging. The results have provided prospective biomarkers and regional brain targets for intervention psychotherapeutically and with noninvasive neurostimulation, such as transcranial direct current, magnetic and vestibular stimulation. The next step is to extend this work to other neuropsychiatric and medical conditions that can feature impaired illness awareness, including neurodegenerative disorders, obesity, hypertension, diabetes, and addictions. The relevance of this work lies in the potential to alter individuals’ attitude toward their illness and treatment. This would lead ultimately to an improvement in individuals’ capacity for illness recognition and engagement in treatment, which would, in turn, have a significant impact on disease management.