Researcher Spotlight: Dr. Kate Harkness

Statistics Canada reports that 33% of Canadians experience some sort of childhood maltreatment before the age of 15, which can include emotional, physical and sexual abuse. 

Maltreatment can have effects that last into late-adolescence and adulthood. “Childhood abuse victims are two to five times more likely to develop depression as teenagers or adults,” says Dr. Kate Harkness, Professor and Director of the Mood Research Laboratory at Queen’s University in Kingston, Ontario and Lead of the CAN-BIND-4 Stress and Reward Anhedonia (SARA) research study.

Dr. Kate Harkness is Professor and Director of the Mood Research Laboratory at Queen’s University and Lead of the CAN-BIND-4 SARA study


Dr. Harkness’ research focuses on youth and adult depression related to stress and early childhood trauma. Through their research, Dr. Harkness’ team at the Mood Research Laboratory hope to:

  • Understand how childhood maltreatment can lead to changes in the biology and chemistry of the brain
  • Identify the different social, cognitive, genetic and physiological brain mechanisms that work together to cause depression

Understanding the link between childhood maltreatment and depression could help to identify biological markers or “biomarkers” that help to boost the success of existing depression treatments and help to find new personalized treatments for depressed individuals.

The CAN-BIND-4 SARA research study has now completed study participant enrolment. Register for our newsletter and keep an eye out for our upcoming highlight piece on the research study by CAN-BIND Research Trainee Simone Cunningham. To learn more about the Mood Research Laboratory, click here.


The Canadian Biomarker Integration Network in Depression (CAN-BIND) is a national program of research and learning. CAN-BIND is discovering ways to identify the right treatment for the right person in order to help individuals with depression get well quickly, and stay well. Visit our research page to learn more about why and how we study depression, our research platforms and ongoing studies.

Written by: Anum Shivji Arwani

Edited by: Janice Pong