Setting Up a Clinic for Integrated Psychiatric and Metabolic Treatment

Posted on 17.12.2020

Canadian visiting professor and her Danish host will develop understanding of how best to provide badly-needed help to patients with mental illness.

Margaret K. Hahn, a psychiatrist from the University of Toronto, Canada, has just obtained a visiting professorship in Denmark thanks to a grant from the Danish Diabetes Academy. Together with Danish colleagues from Mental Health Center Glostrup, she will spend four months in 2021 setting up an integrated metabolic clinic in Denmark, modelled on the world’s first Mental Health and Metabolism Clinic in Toronto, which she was a prime mover in setting up. It integrates psychiatric and metabolic treatment for patients with serious mental disorders.

And both collaboration and more knowledge are badly needed: compared with the general population, patients with disorders on the schizophrenia spectrum have twice the incidence of severe overweight and between three and five times the incidence of type 2 diabetes. In consequence, those affected by these diseases die 15-20 years too early – typically of cardiovascular disease.

‘Moreover, many patients have poor quality of life, impaired cognitive functions and mental symptoms, and, even when they are diagnosed and offered help, they are still under-treated’, she says. 

Extending the use of clamping techniques

Margaret K. Hahn has for many years collaborated with consultant and Research Associate Professor Bjørn H. Ebdrup (they have co-authored articles, for example), and he is to act as her host. She will also be working closely with consultant Professor Filip K. Knop, who is Director of the Center for Clinical Metabolic Research at Gentofte Hospital and is also affiliated with the Steno Diabetes Center Copenhagen.

According to Margaret Hahn, Filip K. Knop has a worldwide reputation for his expertise in various clamping techniques. The techniques Prof. Knop has worked on include measurement of insulin sensitivity, beta cells’ ability to secrete insulin, alpha cell function and measurement of the incretine effect.

‘It is therefore very important to me that I can extend the use of these techniques, thereby improving the opportunity for cross-centre collaboration to investigate glucose metabolism in diseases in patients with severe mental illness’, she says.

Devising the protocol for a future study

Another important aim of the visiting professorship is to analyse Danish and Canadian brain scans of severely overweight people and of severely overweight people who also have type 2 diabetes.

‘The study will contribute unique new insights into the interaction between mental illness, metabolic disorders and structural changes in the brain’, she says.

Guest and host will also study the effect of two different pharmacological interventions, prepare a scientific manuscript and devise the protocol for a future study focusing on new treatments to improve insulin sensitivity and produce positive effects on the structure and function of the brain.


Name and title: Margaret K. Hahn MD, PhD, FRCPC

Awarded DKK 284,897 by the Danish Diabetes Academy.

Project title: Establishing real-world interdisciplinary care and research approaches for cardiometabolic care in schizophrenia spectrum disorder (SSD)s.

Research centre: Center for Neuropsychiatric Schizophrenia Research, Mental Health Center Glostrup

Host: Associate Professor Bjørn H. Ebdrup PhD


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