Dr. Vila-Rodriguez's research will work towards improving diagnostic accuracy and treatment outcomes in persons suffering treatment-resistant depression (TRD). By incorporating neurophysiological-based biomarkers (NPBs) into clinical practice, treatment response can be more easily predicted, preventing relapse in patients with major depressive disorder. This program of research focuses on the use of repetitive transcranial magnetic stimulation (rTMS), a non-invasive neurostimulation therapy recommended by the Canadian Network for Mood and Anxiety Treatments (CANMAT) as a first-line treatment option for TRD.
This research encompasses the Canadian rTMS Treatment and Biomarker Network in Depression (CARTBIND) trial, an ongoing randomized clinical trial that aims to identify relevant NPBs and uses rTMS to treat TRD. Participants in this trial undergo resting-state electroencephalographic and resting-state functional magnetic resonance imaging before and after rTMS treatment to ascertain which neurophysiological features are good predictors of treatment response. Based on this data Dr. Vila-Rodriguez will develop and test a treatment response classifier and relapse prediction classifier.
The aim of this research is to transform how clinicians prescribe rTMS and how they monitor the treatment course and maintenance by incorporating reliable and robust biomarkers. This approach will optimize treatment efficiency by increasing the response rates for TRD and reducing treatment failure, thereby improving the health of British Columbians who struggle with depression and decreasing costs to the health care system.
Dr. Vila-Rodriguez's knowledge translation model involves the regular use of both the lab website as well as the Twitter account to engage his research audience in research activities to keep them up-to-date on new findings, as well as to facilitate self-learning via educational materials.