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Sentinel North Partnership Research Chair in Molecular Neurobiology of Mood Disorders

Chaires de recherche en partenariat


  • Recherche sur le Nord
  • Sciences de la santé et de l’alimentation
Benoit Labonté

Benoit Labonté

Assistant professor

Faculty of Medicine

Benoit Labonté is an assistant professor in the Department of Psychiatry and Neuroscience at Université Laval’s Faculty of Medicine and a researcher at the CERVO Research Centre. He holds a PhD in neuroscience from McGill University and completed postdoctoral studies with Dr. Eric Nestler at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai in New York City. By combining clinical and fundamental research, Mr. Labonté aims to determine the molecular bases involved in the development of depression in men and women. His work will have a major impact on population health by changing how depression is diagnosed and leading to new and much more personalized therapeutic approaches.


Mental Health
Molecular biology
Complex transcriptional organization
Differences between men and women
Neural circuits
Animal models


  • Identify the molecular signatures associated with symptomatic profiles in depressed women and men.
  • Understand the functional and behavioural impact of these changes on individuals’ ability to develop strategies to effectively manage daily stress.
  • Develop predictive models to improve the identification of patients at risk and evaluate the most appropriate treatment options.
  • Test the validity of our predictive models on preclinical models and on populations at risk of developing depressive disorders.

Affecting more than 300 million people worldwide, major depression is a significant societal issue that imposes a heavy economic burden on modern societies and an emotional burden on affected families. It is estimated that women are two to three times more likely to develop depression than men. Gender differences are also linked to differing symptomatic profiles and therapeutic responses. While differences in the clinical manifestations of depression in men and women are well accepted, the molecular mechanisms governing these manifestations remain poorly understood.

The Sentinel North Partnership Research Chair in Molecular Neurobiology of Mood Disorders combines clinical and fundamental research to meet the growing need to identify biomarkers that can predict the onset of the disease and help determine its treatment. In line with the objectives of Sentinel North, the Chair will determine the molecular basis by which the environment increases the risk of mental health disorders in men and women.

The research project is part of a broad partnership with institutional, academic, and clinical stakeholders and families with a view to changing our perception of depression and the way it is diagnosed and treated. 


To understand the molecular dynamics through which the environment modifies genome organization and increases men and women’s susceptibility to the stresses of daily life.

As such, the Chair’s work will integrate molecular measurements into patient diagnoses and develop predictive models to refine treatment for both men and women. 


Sentinelle Nord
Fondation CERVO

The Sentinel North Partnership Research Chair in Molecular Neurobiology of Mood Disorders is made possible thanks to funding from Sentinel North, Pfizer, and Fondation CERVO for a total of $1 million over five years. Funded by the Canada First Research Excellence Fund, the Sentinel North program allows Université Laval to implement a transdisciplinary approach drawing on pooled expertise in northern science, optics/photonics, cardiometabolic health, and brain health to improve our understanding of the northern environment and its impact on human beings and their health.

The creation of this chair allowed Université Laval to recruit a new professor, chairholder Benoit Labonté.


  • Improve knowledge of the molecular mechanisms involved in men and women’s response to stress.
  • Develop predictive models that integrate biological measurements into clinical diagnoses in the context of mental health, and especially depression in men and women.
  • Improve our knowledge about men and women’s mental health.
  • Develop partnerships with clinical settings to apply predictive models and adapt them to clinical needs.
  • Train new generations of researchers performing both clinical and fundamental research applied to men and women’s mental health.
  • Strengthen the leadership of Laval University and Sentinel North in the field of health, and specifically psychiatric and mood disorders.

Sentinel North Partnership Research Chair in Molecular Neurobiology of Mood Disorders

2601, chemin de la Canardière, room F-1400
Québec (Québec) G1J 2G3

Tel.: 418 663-5747