Healthy Minds Canada – Sun Life Financial – Pfizer Canada Research Award Winner 2013:
Christopher Bowie


Christopher BowieDr. Christopher Bowie (Queen’s University) is the 2013 winner of the Healthy Minds Canada/Pfizer/Sun Life Financial Research Award.

With funds from the Healthy Minds Canada/Sun Life Financial/Pfizer Canada Research Award, Dr. Bowie will expand his efforts by delivering Action-Based Cognitive Remediation to a large sample of those with depression and measure changes in workplace stress, work skills, and long-term employment.

Action-Based Cognitive Remediation involves helping people develop long-term coping strategies for everyday stressors, translating those strategies into behaviours they can apply in their day-to-day lives.

Dr. Bowie is a Clinical Psychologist and Associate Professor at Queen’s University in Kingston, Ontario.  He is the Director of the Cognitive and Psychotic Disorders Laboratory, where his research focuses on how cognitive abilities are related to success in daily life areas such as work, socializing, and recreation.

Dr. Bowie has also developed new ways to use cognitive remediation to improve these cognitive abilities in a range of disorders such as schizophrenia and depression. Cognitive remediation is a psychotherapy designed to help people strengthen their memory, attention, and other brain processes. This treatment results in more efficient and effective processing of information by changing the connections within and between brain regions, referred to as neuroplasticity.  Dr. Bowie’s work has demonstrated that traditional cognitive remediation approaches, which rely heavily on neuroplasticity, do indeed improve cognition, but that many people with mental illness have difficulty transferring this cognitive gain to changes in everyday behaviours. The transfer is challenging because cognitive improvements do not immediately result in the acquisition of new work skills or reductions in work related stress for those with long-standing mental illness.

Christopher BowieOnly a few studies have examined cognitive remediation in depression. To date, no study has examined how improving cognitive skills can help those with depression manage their return to work, which is a major priority area for individuals with the illness and for society.  To that end, in the past two years Dr. Bowie has developed a new type of cognitive remediation (Action-Based Cognitive Remediation; ABCR), which puts the treatment directly in a real world context. In ABCR, the cognitive training is directly linked to vocational activities in an active learning environment with simulated work activities. The goal is to improve the cognitive transfer to work functioning by helping people learn more strategies to deal with cognitively demanding work skills and adapt their thinking skills in diverse work environments to reduce stress.

With funds from the Healthy Minds Canada/Sun Life Financial/Pfizer Canada Research Award, Dr. Bowie will expand his efforts by delivering the treatment to a large sample of those with depression and measure changes in workplace stress, work skills, and long-term employment.

Christopher BowieDr. Bowie has a long track record of clinical and scientific work focused on helping those with mental illness integrate into society and live meaningful lives. To date, his work has resulted in over 90 scientific publications and over 200 scholarly presentations. Presently he is co-editing a book on cognitive remediation. He has received several awards for his work, including three from the National Alliance on Research in Schizophrenia and Depression, the New York State Office of Mental Health Award for Services Research (when he was still a doctoral student), first prize for his Doctoral Dissertation from Association for Psychological Science, the Early Researcher Award from the Ontario Ministry for Research and Innovation, and as the top ranked fellow at the Winter Conference on Brain Research. His 2012 publication on cognitive remediation was selected as an Editor’s Choice for Article of the Year in the American Journal of Psychiatry, the top ranked journal in the field.

Press Coverage: Psychologist’s work recognized, The Whig (Kingston)


hmc sunlife pfizer research award


Download the HMC/Sun-Life/Pfizer-Canada Research Award 2013 Fact Sheet