TORONTO - A "monumental" $30-million gift to the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health will attract leading scientists from around the world to a new research institute in Toronto, the centre announced Monday.

Scientists will focus on interdisciplinary research to deliver early detection methods, effective new treatments and better care for the one in five Canadians who live with mental illness.

Their studies will be conducted using state-of-the-art technology at the new Campbell Family Mental Health Research Institute.

"The vision is a future where suicide is no longer the second leading cause of death for youth, where disabling depression is a thing of the past, and where an understanding of neurodevelopment and neurodegeneration will produce remedies for autism and Alzheimer's," CAMH said in a statement.

It's the largest private donation to a hospital for mental health and addiction research in Canada, the centre said. The donors are the families of sisters Linda Campbell, Gaye Farncombe and Susan Grange, granddaughters of the late Thomson Corp. magnate Roy Thomson and nieces of his late billionaire son Ken Thomson.

CAMH president and CEO Dr. Catherine Zahn said research that sheds light on the brain biology of mental illness is the most promising pathway to progress.

"If we can identify how brain cells and circuits are disrupted at an early stage in childhood or youth, we can find new ways to pre-empt the development of debilitating conditions and change the lives of millions of people in generations to come."

In the past, the three Campbell sisters and their late mother Audrey Campbell have also provided multimillion-dollar donations to Princess Margaret Hospital in Toronto.