This session is presented by Dr. Argel Aguilar-Valles, an Assistant Professor with the Department of Neuroscience. More than 1/3 of patients diagnosed with major depression do not respond to traditional antidepressant treatments, such as serotonin reuptake inhibitors. Recently, ketamine was approved for the treatment of those patients that did not improve after other antidepressant treatments. Despite its clinical promise, we are still trying to understand how ketamine works. We have demonstrated that ketamine activates the protein factory of the brain, especially in neurons. This knowledge can be used for the design of safer and equally effective drugs for the treatment of depression.

This session is part of the Healthy Workplace Mental Health Speaker Series 2020/2021.

About the Researcher: Dr. Argel Aguilar-Valles is an Assistant Professor with Carleton’s Department of Neuroscience. The Aguilar-Valles Lab is interested in the molecular mechanisms that underlie psychiatric and neurodevelopmental disorders. They use a combination of biochemistry, molecular biology, neuronal culture, and animal models to understand how genetic risk factors contribute to mental illness. Here are some of the research questions they are investigating:

  • How genetic mutations affect brain development and autism spectrum disorders (ASDs) pathophysiology
  • How antidepressant activation of the mTORC1 pathway contributes to major depressive disorder (MDD) treatment