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Profile: Dr. Daniel Vigo

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Dr. Daniel Vigo

CHÉOS’ newest Scientist is a psychiatrist, clinical psychologist, and public health specialist, who has worked in clinical, research, teaching, and leadership positions in both the public and private sectors.

Originally from Argentina, Dr. Daniel Vigo developed the first Assertive Community Treatment Department (a community-based support for adults with persistent mental illness) in the country before moving to the United States to obtain his Doctorate from Harvard University. Today, he is an assistant professor at UBC, jointly appointed at the Department of Psychiatry and the School of Population and Public Health.

But, UBC isn’t his only ‘home’. Dr. Vigo also holds positions as a lecturer at Harvard Medical School’s Department of Global Health and Social Medicine, an adjunct professor at Simon Fraser University, an advisor to WHO and the Pan American Health Organization, and Chair of the Services and Policy Workgroup at WHO-World Mental Health Surveys Initiative, the largest global research collaboration gathering primary psychiatric epidemiology data, with over 130,000 respondents in 30 countries.

At UBC, Dr. Vigo leads the Mental Health Systems and Services Laboratory, comprised of a research team dedicated to understanding and improving mental health and substance use services. Their current projects include the Needs-Based Planning Project and the Student E-Mental Health Project (co-investigator: CHÉOS Scientist Dr. Anne Gadermann).

Now, he is embarking on a new CIHR-funded project: Predicting the risk of developing mental and substance use disorders due to COVID-19, a study that will apply machine learning to health utilization data to identify effective treatments.

“With early indications that the ongoing pandemic will cause a surge in mental health and substance use disorders, we have chosen to examine the implications of such issues through comparing patient cohorts in B.C. based on their ‘exposure dose’ to COVID-19,” explained Dr. Vigo.

The research team, which includes CHÉOS Scientists Drs. Joseph Puyat and Michael Krausz, will deploy an online survey to detect new or worsening mental health or substance use disorders that may be attributed to COVID-19. They will link these survey results with Population Data BC (de-identified longitudinal data on B.C.’s 4.7 million residents) to retrospectively study the sociodemographic, service utilization, prescription drug use, employment, and environmental exposures of patients over the past 10 years. They will then use this information to identify patients who are at increased risk of developing COVID-19-related adverse mental health outcomes. The team will also follow up with COVID-19-positive patients through a virtual clinic and assess existing treatment options for mental health and substance use problems.

“Overall, this project aims to develop a system to predict increased risk of neuropsychiatric impacts of the pandemic on people in B.C. and help them access mental health services in a timely manner,” said Dr. Vigo. “The information gathered will also help health authorities plan and prepare for future waves of COVID-19 with regard to its impact on mental health and substance use.”

Prior to joining the Centre, Dr. Vigo collaborated with Dr. Puyat to examine potential at-home activities and resources that people experiencing or at risk of experiencing mental illness can use to improve and maintain wellness in times of mass quarantine and isolation.

Join us in welcoming Dr. Daniel Vigo to CHÉOS!