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angle-left Chawki Benkelfat, MD, CSPQ

Senior Scientist, RI-MUHC

Brain Repair and Integrative Neuroscience (BRaIN) Program


Professor, Department of Psychiatry, Faculty of Medicine, McGill University



biological psychiatry • brain correlates of neuropsychiatric disorders • 5HT • DA • depression

Research Focus

My research focuses on the neural determinants, brain circuits and mechanisms of normal and abnormal human behaviour, with an emphasis on depressed mood, anxiety and addictive behaviour. My work is concerned with etiology, and the opposition between state versus trait behaviours, with DSM neuropsychiatric disorders emerging from the former. In my lab, observations derived from human research are enriched by a complementary stream of research in animal neurobiology. My work capitalizes on the progress made with neuroimaging techniques, radioligands and positron emission tomography (PET), which permit the study of brain events and chemicals, in real time, in-vivo, in animals and/or in humans.

Selected Publications

  • Dopamine cross-sensitization between psychostimulant drugs and stress in healthy male volunteers. Booij L, Welfeld K, Leyton M, Dagher A, Boileau I, Sibon I, Baker GB, Diksic M, Soucy JP, Pruessner JC, Cawley-Fiset E, Casey KF, Benkelfat C. Transl Psychiatry. 2016 Feb 23;6:e740. PMID: 26905412.

  • Brain serotonin synthesis in MDMA (ecstasy) polydrug users: an alpha-[(11) C]methyl-l-tryptophan study. Booij L, Soucy JP, Young SN, Regoli M, Gravel P, Diksic M, Leyton M, Pihl RO, Benkelfat C. J Neurochem. 2014 Dec;131(5):634-44. PMID: 25041501.

  • Amphetamine-induced dopamine release and neurocognitive function in treatment-naive adults with ADHD. Cherkasova MV, Faridi N, Casey KF, O'Driscoll GA, Hechtman L, Joober R, Baker GB, Palmer J, Dagher A, Leyton M, Benkelfat C. Neuropsychopharmacology. 2014 May;39(6):1498-507. PMID: 24378745.

  • Tryptophan hydroxylase(2) gene polymorphisms predict brain serotonin synthesis in the orbitofrontal cortex in humans. Booij L, Turecki G, Leyton M, Gravel P, Lopez De Lara C, Diksic M, Benkelfat C. Mol Psychiatry. 2012 Jul;17(8):809-17. PMID: 21747395.

  • Brain regional α-[11C]methyl-L-tryptophan trapping in medication-free patients with obsessive-compulsive disorder. Berney A, Leyton M, Gravel P, Sibon I, Sookman D, Rosa Neto P, Diksic M, Nakai A, Pinard G, Todorov C, Okazawa H, Blier P, Nordahl TE, Benkelfat C. Arch Gen Psychiatry. 2011 Jul;68(7):732-41. PMID: 21383250.