McMaster University

McMaster University

Dr. Benicio N. Frey

Benicio N. Frey

MD, MSc, PhD

Associate Professor, Psychiatry & Behavioural Neurosciences

Mood Disorders Program & Women’s Health Concerns Clinic, SJH


Tel:  (905) 522-1155 Ext. 33605

Fax: (905) 521-6098


Education and Career

Dr. Frey is Associate Professor at the Department of Psychiatry and Behavioural Neurosciences at McMaster University, Academic Head of the Mood Disorders Program, and Director of the Women’s Health Concerns Clinic at St. Joseph's Healthcare. He completed his M.D. and specialization in Psychiatry at the Federal Medical School of Porto Alegre, Brazil, and his M.Sc. and Ph.D. in Biochemistry at the Federal University of Rio Grande do Sul, Brazil. Dr. Frey completed a Research Fellowship at The University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio, working with brain imaging in bipolar disorder. Subsequently, Dr. Frey did a Postdoctoral Fellowship in brain imaging at the Montreal Neurological Institute (McGill University), where he conducted a PET imaging study correlating serotonin synthesis and 5HT1A receptor binding in the human brain. In 2008, Dr. Frey received a CIHR postdoctoral fellowship award to study brain imaging in perimenopausal women with depression, under supervision of Dr. Claudio Soares and Dr. Meir Steiner at the Women’s Health Concerns Clinic, St. Joseph’s Healthcare Hamilton. Dr. Frey is also a previous recipient of a fellowship award from Father O’Sullivan Research Centre (SJH).

Research Interests

Dr. Frey is interested in understanding the cerebral mechanisms involved in the neurobiology of bipolar and major depressive (unipolar) disorder, with an emphasis in female-reproductive life events. He is co-investigator and site–PI of a multicentre study investigating biomarkers of treatment response in depression ( sponsored by the Ontario Brain Institute, CIHR and the Ontario Ministry of Research and Innovation. He is the principal investigator of a new study sponsored by the Brain & Behavioral Foundation (formerly NARSAD) investigating cortical myelin in individuals with bipolar disorder. He is also PI of an fMRI study of brain correlates of emotional regulation in women with co-morbid bipolar and premenstrual dysphoric disorder funded by the Ontario Mental Health Foundation and J.P. Bickell Foundation. Dr. Frey is also involved in a number of projects investigating the role or biological/circadian rhythms in the development of postpartum depression and anxiety. He has had more than 80 publications accepted in peer-reviewed journals and has presented his work in numerous national and international conferences. In addition, he supervises graduate and undergraduate students in various research projects.

Clinical/Education Interests

Dr. Frey is staff psychiatrist at the Women’s Health Concerns Clinic and the Mood Disorders Program at St. Joseph's Healthcare Hamilton. His clinical/educational interests involve teaching residents, medical students and fellows in the assessment and treatment of individuals with bipolar disorder and depression, as well as mood disturbances associated with premenstrual phase, pregnancy, postpartum and menopause transition.

Selected Publications

Cudney LE, Sassi RB, Behr GA, Streiner DL, Minuzzi L, Moreira JC, Frey BN. Alterations in circadian rhythms are associated with increased lipid peroxidation in females with bipolar disorder. Int J Neuropsychopharmacol 2014; 17(5):715-22.

Frey BN, Dias RS. Sex hormones and biomarkers of neuroprotection and neurodegeneration: implications for female reproductive events in bipolar disorder. Bipolar Disorders 2014; 16(1):48-57.

Grande I, Magalhães PV, Chendo I, Stertz L, Fries GR, Cereser KM, Cunha ÂB, Gói P, Kunz M, Udina M, Martín-Santos R, Frey BN, et al. Val66Met polymorphism and serum brain-derived neurotrophic factor in bipolar disorder: an open-label trial. Acta Psychiatr Scand 2014; 129(5):393-400.

Frey BN, Andreazza AC, Frye MA, et al. Biomarkers in bipolar disorder: a positional paper from the International Society for Bipolar Disorders Biomarkers Task Force. Aust N Z J Psychiatry 2013; 47(4):321-32.

Yatham LN, Kennedy SH, Parikh SV, Shaeffer A, Beaulieu S, Alda M, O’Donovan C, MacQueen G, McIntyre RS, Sharma V, Ravindran A, Young LT, Milev R, Bond D, Frey BN, et al. Canadian Network for Mood and Anxiety Treatments (CANMAT) and International Society for Bipolar Disorders (ISBD) collaborative update of CANMAT guidelines for the management of patients with bipolar disorder: update 2013. Bipolar Disorders 2013; 15(1):1-44.

Frey BN, Minuzzi L. Co-morbid bipolar disorder and premenstrual dysphoric disorder: Real patients, unanswered questions. Arch Womens Ment Health 2013; 16(1):79-81.

Truong W, Minuzzi L, Soares CN, Frey BN, et al. Changes in cortical thickness across the lifespan in major depressive disorder. Psychiatry Res: Neuroimaging 2013; 214(3):204-11.

Frey BN, Simpson W, Wright L, Steiner M. Sensitivity and specificity of the mood disorder questionnaire as a screening tool for bipolar disorder during pregnancy and the postpartum period. J Clin Psychiatry 2012; 73(11):1456-61.

Lokuge S, Frey BN, Foster JA, Soares CN, Steiner M. Neurobiological basis of depression in women: New insights into the link between estrogen and serotonin. J Clin Psychiatry 2011; 72(11):1563-9.

Frey BN, Skelin I, Sakai Y, Nishikawa M, Diksic M. Gender differences in -[11C]MT brain trapping, an index of serotonin synthesis, in medication-free individuals with major depressive disorder: a positron emission tomography study. Psychiatry Res: Neuroimaging 2010; 183(2):157-66.

Frey BN, Hall G, Attard S, et al. Shift in the brain network of emotional regulation in midlife women: Is the menopausal transition the turning point? Menopause 2010; 17(4):840-5.

Matsuo K, Walls-Bass C, Nery FG, Nicoletti MA, Hatch JP,Frey BN, et al. Neuronal correlates of brain-derived neurotrophic factor Val66Met polymorphism and morphometric abnormalities in bipolar disorder. Neuropsychopharmacology2009; 34(8):1904-13.

Frey BN, Zunta-Soares GB, Caetano SC, et al. Illness duration and total brain gray matter in bipolar disorder: evidence for neurodegeneration?Eur Neuropsychopharmacology2008; 18(10):717-22.

Frey BN, Lord C, Soares CN. Depression during menopausal transition: a review of treatment strategies and pathophysiological correlates.Menopause International2008; 14(3):123-8.

Frey BN, Rosa-Neto P, Lubarsky S, Diksic M. Correlation between serotonin synthesis and 5-HT1Areceptor binding in the living human brain: a combined [11C]-αMT and [18F] MPPF positron emission tomography study. Neuroimage2008; 42(2):850-7.

Andreazza AC, Kauer-Sant’Anna M,Frey BN, et al. Oxidative stress markers in bipolar disorder: a meta-analysis. J Affect Disord 2008; 111(2-3):135-44.

Bearden CE, Thompson PM, Dutton RA,Frey BN, et al. Three-dimensional mapping of hippocampal anatomy in unmedicated and lithium-treated patients with bipolar disorder.Neuropsychopharmacology2008; 33(6):1229-38.

Frey BN, Walss-Bass C, Stanley JA, et al. Brain-derived neurotrophic factor val66met polymorphism affects prefrontal energy metabolism in bipolar disorder.Neuroreport2007; 8(15):1567-1570.

Frey BN, Andreazza AC, Nery FG, et al. The role of hippocampus in the pathophysiology of bipolar disorder. Behav Pharmacol2007; 18(5-6):419-430.

Frey BN, Stanley JA, Nery FG, et al. Abnormal cellular energy and phospholipid metabolism in the left dorsolateral prefrontal cortex of medication-free individuals with bipolar disorder: an in vivo 1H MRS study. Bipolar Disorders2007; 9(Suppl 1):119-127.

Tramontina J,Frey BN, Andreazza AC, et al. Val66met polymorphism and serum brain-derived neurotrophic factor levels in bipolar disorder.Molecular Psychiatry2007; 12(3):230-231.

Tramontina J,Frey BN, Andreazza AC, et al. Val66met polymorphism and serum brain-derived neurotrophic factor levels in bipolar disorder.Molecular Psychiatry 2007; 12(3):230-231.

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