Our Team

 
Principle Investigator 
Dr. Taufik Valiante
MD, PhD, FRCSC
Staff Neurosurgeon, Toronto Western Hospital
Director, Center for Advancing Neurotechnological Innovation to Application (CRANIA)
Director, CRANIA Neuromodulation Institute, University of Toronto
Senior Scientist, Krembil Research Institute (Krembil)
 
 
 
Taufik Valiante completed his residency in the Neurosurgery Training Program at the University of Toronto in 2002, and an Epilepsy Surgery Fellowship at the University of Washington, Seattle, under the mentorship of Dr. George Ojemann in 2003. In 2007 he established a state of the art five-bed Epilepsy Monitoring Unit at the Toronto Western Hospital, significantly increasing surgical services to those with medically refractory epilepsy throughout the Province of Ontario. Through his involvement with professional and not-for profit epilepsy organizations, he is a strident advocate for the standardization of epilepsy care.

He is currently the Director of the Surgical Epilepsy Program at the Krembil Brain Institute, a Scientist at the Krembil Research Institute, and has a cross-appointment at the Institute of Biomaterials and Biomedical Engineering. His neurosurgical staff appointment is at the Toronto Western Hospital, and he is currently Associate Professor of Neurosurgery at the University of Toronto.

 

Lab Members

 

Tania Dias

Research Analyst 

Tania assumes responsibility for the overall management of the Neuron to Brain Research initiatives and collaborations under the leadership and guidance of PI, Dr. Taufik Valiante. She is the bridge across study teams, streamlining operations across multiple projects and enabling research tasks including grant submissions, complex contract management, stakeholder query management, and budget maintenance for the Neuron to Brain Lab.

Email - tania.dias@uhnresearch.ca

 

 

 Mandana Movahed

Research Technician

Mandana Movahed is a Research Technician in Dr. Taufik Valiante's team at the Krembil Research Institute. she has a Masters in Neuroscience from the Institute of Medical Science at the University of Toronto. Her focus was on understanding the underlying mechanisms of Degenerative Cervical Myelopathy (DCM) and the associated complications related to its treatment.  

Her passion for asking questions and solving problems through science guided her toward choosing a researcher’s life and she is excited to continue her pursuits in translational research within the Neuron to Brain lab.  

Email - mandana.movahed@uhnresearch.ca

 

 

Victoria Barkley

Research Technical Assistant

Victoria is a Research Technical Assistant and serves as liaison between Dr. Valiante's trainees, collaborators, EMU staff clinicians and research candidates. Specifically, she works with patients who are eligible to participate in electrocorticographic  (ECoG) studies. She is also responsible for clinical data collection and post-operative reconstructions.

 Email - Victoria.Barkley@uhnresearch.ca

 

 

Associates and Fellows

 

Homeira Moradi 

Scientific Associate

Homeira investigates the impact of intrinsic cellular properties of human cortical neurons on network activity in cortical slices obtained from neurosurgical procedures. Her work focuses on the role of electrophysiological properties of single neurons in generating electrical oscillations in the brain, and using these data to build a human cell model through a collaboration with Dr. Francis Skinner.   To perform these experiments, she uses in vivo and in vitro electrophysiology, including patch clamp techniques and local field potential recordings. In addition, she uses 3D image reconstruction of neurons using immunohistochemistry and CLARITY.

Email - Homeira.Moradi@uhnresearch.ca

 

 Araceli R. Cardenas

Scientific Associate

Araceli specializes in human intracranial recordings. Her primary scientific interest lies in the interactions between bodily functions and cognition (i.e. attention, memory, language). She believes that the notion of embodiment is central in developing a neuroscience of well-being. Currently, she is investigating how physiological rhythms (respiration, heartbeat) modulate and are modulated by cortical neuronal activity. In that line of research, she is interested in whether and how physiological markers can be used for seizure prediction in epilepsy patients.

Dr. Cardenas joined the Neuron to Brain Lab in 2021 and leads the intracranial EEG (iEEG) Pillar. She oversees the establishment of scientific collaborations involving human intracranial recordings and the implementation of new behavioral paradigms. Her goal is to establish to Neuron to Brain Lab as a central hub in the network of centers conducting intracranial research in humans. Dr. Cardenas received her PhD in Neuroscience from the Max Planck Research School in Tuebingen, Germany. Previously, she studied Medicine in Mexico, and Philosophy of Science in Spain.

Email - araceli.ramirezcardenas@uhnresearch.ca

 

 

Andrea Gómez Palacio

Andrea’s previous research has focused on performing in the large-scale recordings in several animal models to investigate neuronal interactions that underlie plastic states. One of her main interests is to understand how brain stimulation modifies these interactions in order to use it as a rehabilitation tool.

Her current research focuses on performing and analysing single-unit activity in Individuals with medically-intractable epilepsy. Such studies pose a unique opportunity to answer questions related to the neuronal mechanisms involved in human cognitive processing.

Email - Andrea.Schjetan@uhnresearch.ca

 

 

Marjan Rafiee

Marjan works at the intersection of engineering, neuroscience, and using music to provide a therapeutic option for individuals with Epilepsy. She is interested in reducing the seizure frequency in individuals with epilepsy by listening to music, and improving her understanding on how the brain activity of individuals with epilepsy changes by listening to music. She has been leading the related research line in the lab since 2016 by running different aspects of a clinical research study on this topic including the study design and coordination, participants’ enrolment, data collection, and analyzing the acquired data.

Marjan got her Master of Engineering (MEng) and PhD in Chemical Engineering from University of Birmingham in England. She changed her research field afterwards to the exciting world of neurobiology and neuroscience through an opportunity created by a collaboration between Dr. Frances Skinner and Dr. Taufik Valiante in 2015, which she will be always grateful for. She believes she is a neuroscientist and considers herself fortunate to be able to use her skills and research interests to have a meaningful impact on individuals’ lives.

Email - Marjan.Rafiee@uhnresearch.ca

 

Scott Rich

Scott received his Ph.D in Applied and Interdisciplinary Mathematics from the University of Michigan, and performs his postdoctoral research under the co-supervision of Dr. Valiante and Dr. Frances Skinner. His work aims to use computational tools to mechanistically describe the sometimes paradoxical pathways to seizure. The discovery of such mechanisms has the potential to uncover not only novel experimentally testable hypotheses to improve our understanding of seizure initiation, but also novel targets for clinical intervention to minimize or prevent seizure in patients with epilepsy.

This work takes place at both a micro-scale, where he works to create detailed computational models of human neurons utilizing electrophysiological data from the Neuron to Brain team, and at a macro-scale, in which he investigates how seizure might arise in computational neural networks.

Email - Scott.Rich@uhnresearch.ca

Website: http://scottrich.strikingly.com

 

 

Chaim Katz

Chaim is interested in what makes people unique, by specifically looking at the brain.  His project involves using technology to investigate activity of the brain associated with memory and using clinical technology to modify performance and brain activity in recall and associative memory tasks.

Email - Chaim.katz@mail.utoronto.ca

 

 

 

PhD Candidates

 

Sara Mahallati

Sara works on characterizing human cortical cell types by extracellular features and spatial distribution on the cortical layers to produce a probabilistic map of cell types and connectivity across the layers. Single unit recording of human cortical slices is done in vitro using multi electrode array technology.

Email - sara.mahallati@mail.utoronto.ca

 

Gerard O'Leary

Gerard is researching neuroelectronics at the interface between digital and biological systems. This includes the design of silicon chips which use machine learning to understand neural activity and respond using electrical neuromodulation waveforms. He's focused on deploying this technology for fundamental research instruments and in implantable medical devices. He completed his B.Eng. at the National University of Ireland, Galway, and his MASc and PhD degrees at the University of Toronto, all in Electrical and Computer Engineering. When he's not in the lab, he's probably swimming, running or biking.

Email - gerard.oleary@mail.utoronto.ca

Twitter - @integerard

 

 

 

Kramay Patel

Kramay works on developing novel neurofeedback protocols to investigate skill learning in mesial temporal lobe structures. This type of skill learning can potentially be used to probe underlying circuitry in the mesial temporal lobe structures (which is largely responsible for memory encoding, and often involved in generating seizures) in a safe and highly precise manner.

Email - Kramay.patel@mail.utoronto.ca

 

 

Iouri Khramtsov

Iouri Khramtsov is a masters student Biomedical Engineering, University of Toronto. He works on neural-interfacing systems that improve people's lives, with a focus on the firmware, user interfaces, distributed cloud systems, and algorithms. Before joining the lab, he spent fourteen years in finance and software development industries, working as a quantitative analyst, technical lead, and software architect.

Email - Iouri.Khramtsov@uhnresearch.ca

Web - www.i-kh.net

 

 

Prajay Shah

 

 

 

 

 

 

BASc Candidates

 

 

 

 

Alumni

 

David Groppe

Scientific Associate

David Groppe, Ph.D., is a data scientist at the Persyst Development Corporation where he develops software to aid epilepsy diagnoses. David received his Ph.D. in cognitive science in 2007 from the University of California. From 2011-2017, Dr. Groppe worked under Dr. Ashesh Mehta at the Feinstein Institute for Medical Research and Dr. Taufik Valiante at the Krembil Neuroscience Center, developing software to analyze data from epilepsy surgery candidates. In 2017, under Dr. Valiante’s mentorship, Dr. Groppe won an entrepreneur award from the Ontario Brain Institute, which led to his joining Persyst. He continues to collaborate with the Neuron-to-Brain Lab.

Email - David.Groppe@uhnresearch.ca

Website: https://github.com/dmgroppe

 

 

Omid Talakoub

Omid received his PhD in Electrical and Computer Engineering from the University of Toronto. His earlier research aimed at Brain Computer Interface, coordinated activity between motor cortex and basal ganglia in individuals with Parkinson's disease, and modification of neural activity through micro-stimulation of brain structures. His current work aims to uncover neural mechanisms of memory formation and memory recall in primates. The discovery of such mechanisms leads to methods interacting with memory system; with traumatic potentials for individuals suffering from neurological deficiencies such as amnesia, Alzheimer's disease, as well as post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).

Email - Omid.Talakoub@uhnresearch.ca

 

Azadeh Naderian

Azadeh received her Ph.D. in Biomedical Engineering from the University of Montreal and joined the Neuron to Brain lab as a Postdoctoral Research Fellow in March 2018. She has been working on different subjects, including “single-neuron studies of learning, memory, and decision making in human” and “assisting optogenetics experiments using silicon neural nanoprobes”, and is currently exploring the mechanisms of brain neuromodulation by electrical stimulation.

Azadeh is trying to understand how neuromodulation exactly affects the excitability of neuronal networks by stimulating and recording from mice brain slices using Multi-Electrode Arrays (MEAs). She investigates how electrical stimulation affects the excitability of neural tissue, and how these stimulation approaches may be improved towards greater therapeutic benefit.

Email - Azadeh.Naderian@uhnresearch.ca

 

Michael Chang

Michael works on optogenetic activation of interneurons triggers electrographic seizures in in vitro and in vivo seizure models.

Email - Michael.chang@live.ca

 

 

Daniele Grattarola

Daniele is a third-year graduate student at the University of Lugano, Switzerland. He researches graph neural networks and their applications to systems that change over time. Currently, he is working on the prediction and localization of epileptic seizures from iEEG data using graph attentional mechanisms.

Email - daniele.grattarola@usi.ch

 

 

Ali Haydaroglu

Ali is a fourth year Engineering Science undergraduate student working on a new class of Maximum Entropy models to extract connectivity estimates from neural signals. He uses mathematical frameworks from statistical physics to model populations of neurons. Working with the Fujitsu Co-Creation Laboratory, he implements computational methods to apply these frameworks to neural signals and estimate their connectivity. Outside the lab, you can find him playing the tenor sax for the UofT Engineering jazz band.

Email - ali.haydaroglu@mail.utoronto.ca

 

 

Masoumeh Seghatoleslam (2016-2018)

Masoumeh worked on Intraoprative optical characterization of brain tumor tissues. The objective of this study was to investigate the use of Raman spectroscopy (RS) and Polarization Sensitive Optical Coherence Tomography (PS-OCT) to distinguish tumor from healthy tissues intraoperatively and to achieve maximal extent of resection (EOR) and minimize damage to adjacent healthy brain tissues in brain tumor resection.

 

 

 

Sumayya Mehmood  (2015-2017)

Sumayya worked on optimizing the benefits of epilepsy surgery using a mixed methods approach. In order to improve post-operative quality of life, she was collecting data in order to create and test the effectiveness of a pre-surgical counselling intervention.

Phase 1: A qualitative and quantitative environmental scan of post-surgical epilepsy patients.

Phase 2: Using the environmental scan to create a counselling intervention and perform a randomized control trial to test it out.

 

Wilfred Cho (2015-2017)

Wilfred worked on prediction, early detection and abortion of seizure events in human in a clinical trial. His stream of focus included:

    1. Algorithmic design of seizure prediction and early detection using signal processing and machine learning techniques in real-time environment.

    2. Investigate possibility of seizure abortion during  pre-ictal state and early state of ictal event.

    3. Integration of clinical platform and research platform (Hardware, Software and Database).

     

    Summer Students And Volunteers

     

    Aditya Saigal (2019)

    Adam Gierlach (2019)

    Aidan (AJ) Perez-Ignacio (2019-2020)

    Bipasha Goyal (2019)

    Nizar Islah (2019)

    Shounak Sural (2019)

    Shujian Qian (2019)

    Young Seok Seo (2019)

     

    Adam Gierlach (2018)

    Alexandra Santos (2018)

    Bushra Shehzad (2017-2018)

    Dana Kokoska (2018)

    Dorsa Zabihipour (2018)

    Farhad Yusufali (2018)

    Francis Kang (2018)

    Jamie Koerner (2018)

    Sonali Dey (2018)

     

    Ali Haydaroglu (2017-2019)

    Farhan Wadia (2017)

    Kramay Patel (2017)

    Laura Bickley (2016-2017)

    Shahryar Rajabzadeh (2017)

    Ted/Yin Tai Huang (2017)

    Veronica/Ya Li (2017)