Principal Investigator


Dr. Venkat Bhat

Dr. Bhat is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Psychiatry at the University of Toronto. He is currently a staff psychiatrist based at two Depression Centres: The Centre for Depression and Suicide Studies at St. Michael’s Hospital and the Poul Hansen Depression Centre at Toronto Western Hospital. At St. Michael’s Hospital, he is the Director of the Interventional Neuropsychiatry Program which offers novel psychopharmacological (e.g. IV ketamine/other anesthetic agents), neurostimulation (e.g. rTMS, ECT, emerging neurostimulation modalities) and digital therapeutic (mobile-based monitoring and interventions) interventions for Mood and other Disorders. At Toronto Western Hospital, he has a focus on invasive neurostimulation (Deep Brain Stimulation and Invasive Brain Mapping) and is also involved in a study comparing ECT to IV Ketamine for Treatment-resistant Depression. He is an affiliate faculty member within the Faculty of Biomedical Engineering at Toronto Metropolitan University.  He collaborates closely with engineering, anaesthesia, imaging, informatics, neurology, and neurosurgery to offer emerging and procedural interventions for psychiatric disorders. His research program aims to understand treatment and response with these emerging interventions. Dr. Bhat deeply believes that interdisciplinary approaches are needed to get deeper insights into the human mind; his research projects are often at the intersection of biomedical engineering/medicine and social sciences/humanities.

Email: venkat.bhat@utoronto.ca


Post-Doctoral Fellows


Fatemeh Gholamali Nezhad

Fatemeh holds a Ph.D. in clinical psychology and a master’s degree in Cognitive Psychology. With about ten years of experience in Clinical Neuropsychology, her main research focus is EEG biomarkers and bio-subtypes of mental disorders. She is trained in processing EEG data and the clinical interpretation of EEG and ERP at the Swiss Brain and Trauma Foundation. She also cooperates with this Fundation as an EEG/ ERP analyst and tutor. Fatemeh is a post-Doctoral fellow within the Interventional Neuropsychiatry Program at St. Michael’s Hospital, under the supervision of Dr. Bhat.

Besides EEG biomarkers of psychiatric disorders, she is interested in Neuromodulation techniques.

 


Alice Rueda, AI Lead

Alice completed her doctoral degree in electrical engineering from Ryerson University, Toronto, ON in 2021. She is the recipient of the Governor General’s Academic Gold Medal and Ryerson Gold Medal for the Faculty of Engineering and Architectural Science. After working in the industry for more than a decade, Alice decided to go back to academia. She received a bachelor degree in electrical engineering and a master degree in electrical and computer engineering from the University of Manitoba, Winnipeg, MB in 1994 and 1999, respectively. She completed an Executive Certificate in Accounting for Business Manager from Hong Kong University in 2012, and an (honoris causa) Doctor of Laws degree from Brock University, St. Catharines, ON in 2020. Alice specializes in signal processing and applications of machine learning. Alice is serving as the Secretary for the IEEE Signal Processing Toronto Chapter and an affiliated member of the IEEE Machine Learning for Signal Processing. Alice has also served as the Director of Machine Learning at Aggregate Intellect in 2022.


Shakila Meshkat

Shakila is a medical doctor graduated from Tehran University of Medical Sciences. She had previously worked as a researcher in different research centres and has extensive experience conducting clinical trials and working with patients with psychiatric disorders. She is a postdoctoral fellow at the University of Toronto within the Interventional Neurosychiatry Program at St. Michael’s Hospital, under the supervision of Dr. Bhat. Her primary research areas of interest include psychedelic-assisted therapy, mood disorders, cognition, and treatment-resistant depression.

Karisa Parkington

Dr. Karisa Parkington holds a Ph.D. in Cognitive Neuroscience from the University of Waterloo (2021). She has over two years of post-doctoral consulting & industry experience in digital mental health therapeutics for psychiatric and neurological disorders. Her main research focus is remote measurement-based care (RMBC) for mental health concerns (depression, anxiety, sleep, addiction) using digital platforms (e.g., web-based daily surveys, wearable devices) and advanced data analytics. As a Post-doctoral Research Fellow within the Interventional Neuropsychiatry Program at St. Michael’s Hospital, Dr. Parkington leads clinical trials implementing digital mental health interventions in healthcare professionals and psychiatric patients with major depressive disorder and/or anxiety disorders, under the supervision of Dr. Venkat Bhat.



Bazen Gashaw Teferra

 

Dr. Teferra is a researcher who earned a Ph.D. in Electrical and Computer Engineering from the University of Toronto in 2023. His expertise lies in machine learning, natural language processing, and mental health, particularly in predicting Anxiety Disorders through speech analysis using transformer-based Large Language models. He received his bachelor’s degree in Electrical and Computer Engineering and a master’s degree in Computer Engineering from Addis Ababa Institute of Technology, Ethiopia. Currently, as a postdoctoral fellow in the Interventional Psychiatry Program at St. Michael’s Hospital, Dr. Teferra continues to advance the understanding and detection of mental health disorders through technology-driven solutions.


GRADUATE (MSC/PhD) STUDENTS


Ilya Demchenko

Ilya is a doctoral student in the neurostimulation theme within the Interventional Psychiatry Program who manages several studies investigating novel non-invasive brain stimulation approaches for treatment-resistant depression. He holds an HBSc from the University of Toronto and a MSc from McGill University, with a specialty in Neuroscience-Psychiatry. By acting as a liaison between clinicians, scientists, trainees, and collaborators, Ilya strives to streamline the research process and facilitate the translation of discoveries to clinical practice. His research interest focus on unraveling brain network connectivity biomarkers of antidepressant response to interventional treatments in the domains of novel psychopharmacology and brain stimulation. 


Hyejung Jung

Hyejung Jung is a Ph.D. student in the Division of Biostatistics at the Dalla Lana School of Public Health, University of Toronto. Hyejung’s research interest is in the design of clinical trials and its statistical methods especially in adaptive designs which allow modifications to various aspects of the clinical trials. Her role in the Interventional Psychiatry program is to provide statistical support.


Binh Nguyen

Binh Nguyen received his B.Eng degree in Biomedical Engineering at Toronto Metropolitan University, Toronto, Canada in 2019. Currently, he is a Ph.D. student at the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering, Toronto Metropolitan University, Toronto, Ontario, Canada. Binh’s research focus is on affective computing. He works on data analytics, signal processing and machine learning to analyze passive and active data in a mental health setting. Binh’s research is being overseen by Dr. Sri Krishnan and Dr. Venkat Bhat.


Martin Ivanov

Martin Ivanov is a MASc student enrolled in Electrical & Computer Engineering at Toronto Metropolitan University (TMU), Toronto, Ontario, Canada and is expecting to graduate in 2024. He is specializing in Biosignal Analysis with a focus on affective computing. Currently, he is operating as a research assistant at the Signal Analysis Research group at TMU, Toronto, Ontario, Canada.


Vanessa Tassone

Vanessa Tassone is an MSc student within the Interventional Psychiatry Program. She holds a Specialized Honours Bachelor of Arts degree in Psychology from York University. Vanessa’s MSc research will deliver a remotely-based, individualized, one-on-one physical activity program for individuals with treatment resistant depression.


Qiaowei (Vicky) Lin

Vicky is a Research Data Analyst in the Interventional Psychiatry Program. She holds a MSc in Biostatistics from the Dalla Lana School of Public Health, University of Toronto, and a bachelor’s degree in Statistics with a minor in Applied Math from the University of Waterloo. Her role involves managing and analyzing large datasets through reproducible code, and using her expertise in biostatistics to support data science projects and collaborate effectively with research teams.


Rebecca Lee

Rebecca is a Practicum Student within the Interventional Psychiatry Program. She is currently pursuing an MSc in Biostatistics at the Dalla Lana School of Public Health. She has an Honours Bachelor of Science in Neuroscience and a Minor in Physics from McMaster University. She aims to use her interdisciplinary background to provide a unique perspective to clinical data analysis.


Clinical Care


Dr. Perry Menzies

Dr. Perry Menzies is a Clinician Teacher at St. Michael’s Hospital and a Lecturer in Psychiatry at the University of Toronto.  He completed his Psychiatry Residency training at the University of Toronto and completed Medical School at McMaster University.  Prior to medicine Dr. Menzies trained in Organic Chemistry, obtaining an Honours Bachelor degree and then a Masters degree.  Dr. Menzies’ role in the Interventional Psychiatry program is to provide clinical care for patients and facilitate the education of training physicians in this rapidly evolving field.


Dr. Reinhard Janssen Aguilar

Dr. Reinhard Janssen is a Medical Doctor graduated from the Marist University of Merida. He completed his Psychiatry Residency training at the National Institute of Neurology and Neurosurgery “Manuel Velasco Suarez,” affiliated with the National Autonomous University of Mexico (UNAM) in Mexico City, Mexico. During his residency training, Dr. Janssen completed a Master’s degree in Cognitive Behavioral Therapy. Throughout his academic journey, both at the university and during his psychiatric residency, Dr. Janssen actively engaged in various research protocols, undertaking tasks that spanned from protocol development to the creation of research outputs. Additionally, he has made contributions to publications in diverse scientific journals at both national and international levels. Dr. Janssen brings extensive experience in the management of psychiatric patients with a spectrum of comorbidities, including neurological conditions and other chronic degenerative diseases. This expertise reflects his prior role as a general hospital psychiatrist. Currently, within the Interventional Neuropsychiatry Program at St. Michael’s Hospital and the University of Toronto, he serves as a clinical fellow with a profound interest in both clinical patient care and research, working under the guidance of Dr. Venkat Bhat. In the realm of research, Dr. Janssen is particularly interested in intricate psychiatric disorders, such as treatment-resistant depression and functional neurological disorders. He also exhibits a keen interest in neuropsychiatric pathology and its treatment.


Dr. Hilary Pang

Dr. Hilary Pang is a resident physician in the Department of Psychiatry at the University of Toronto. She completed her Honours B.Sc. and M.D./M.Sc. at the University of Toronto. She is currently engaged in the Temerty Faculty of Medicine Clinician Scientist Program under the supervision of Dr. Venkat Bhat (Interventional Psychiatry Program). She is also an American College of Psychiatrists PRITE Fellow.


Physician Assistant


Fathima Adamsahib

Fathima is a physician assistant working within the Interventional Psychiatry Program and Ambulatory Mental Health Program at St. Michael’s Hospital. She is a graduate from University of Toronto’s Physician Assistant Program, and completed her undergraduate degree at the University of Toronto with a specialist in Mental Health Studies. Fathima works in collaboration with her supervising physicians to provide existing and novel treatment options and is an advocate for patients and their families. She strives to increase access to mental health care for individuals with acute and persistent mental health illness.


rTMS Assistant


Gurpreet Saini

Gurpreet is an rTMS Technician working within the Interventional Psychiatry Department at St. Michael’s Hospital. She has an Honors Bachelor of Science in Psychology and a Minor in Psychological intercultural relations from the University of Guelph. She is also currently at Yorkville University completing her Master’s Degree in Counselling Psychology and specializing in Dialectical Behavioural Therapy with a focus on Crisis and Trauma Counselling. She has previous experience working with individuals experiencing mood disorders including major depressive disorder, generalized anxiety disorder, and bipolar disorder. Her goal is to further support and promote the facilitation of interventional practices in order to increase psychological awareness and help individuals with the treatment of their mental, behavioural, and emotional health.

 

 


Stephanie Famuditimi

Stephanie is an rTMS Technician working within the Interventional Psychiatry Department at St. Michael’s Hospital. She has an Honors Bachelor of Science in Psychology and a Minor in Organizational Psychology from the University of Guelph. She also possesses a Post-Graduate Certificate in Addictions and Mental Health Interventions from Humber College. She has previously worked with various populations experiencing mental health disorders including Geriatrics, Adolescences and Children. She strives to implement mental health practices and be a part of innovative research and practices in the interventional field.


Administrative Assistant


Carmina Tuason Legault


Research Assistants


Josh Martin

Josh is a Research Assistant in the Interventional Neuropsychiatry Program. He graduated from Queen’s University with a Bachelor of Science Honours in Life Sciences and completed a thesis project in neuroscience. His main research interests are the cellular and molecular neuroscience of mood disorders and Alzheimer’s disease. In the future, he hopes to pursue a career in medicine.


Sarah Gyu Hee Lee

Sarah is a Research Assistant within the Interventional Neuropsychiatry Program. She has an Honours Bachelor of Science in Psychology and a Bachelor of Arts in Sociology from the University of Toronto. Her research interests involve psychoactive medications as well as technological and digital interventions for the treatment of mood disorders. In the future, Sarah hopes to pursue a career that combines psychological research and innovative technology. 


Howell Fang

Howell is currently a 4th year HBSc student at the University of Toronto pursuing a specialist in Health and Disease and a minor in Immunology. He is also a research student at the Interventional Psychiatry Program and the focus of his work here is examining the effects of psilocybin on psychiatric disorders.


Alyssa Swiderski

Alyssa is an Honours Bachelor of Science candidate in Life Sciences at Queen’s University. Her research interest lies in the neurobiology of psychiatric disorders and exploring novel psychopharmacological therapeutics. In the future, Alyssa hopes to pursue graduate studies in neuroscience.


Rachel Sousa-Ho

Rachel is a 5th year student at the University of Toronto majoring in Neuroscience and Psychology. She is also a research student at the Interventional Psychiatry Program. Her work focuses on the efficacy of various pharmacological treatments for psychological disorders and their neurological underpinnings.


Alumni


Aksharra Balachandran
Alexandra Ouellette Zuk
Alyssa Swiderski
Anne-Marie Di Passa
Arpana Balachandar
Caroline Espinola
Emily Kapustin
Eisi Mollanji
Geetha Samy
Gursharanjit Kaur
Helen Liu
Huaqi Li
Jack Yassa
Jaimie Kerzner 
Joseph Salvo
Josheil Boparai
Hamzah Chaudhry
Karim Al-Mradi
Khaled Mesbah
Luke Vanden Broek
Madeline Chan
Maggie Kamila Kiraga
Mahsa Edalatkhah
Manish Dama
Michelle Wu
Nancy Zou
Navya Goel
Nika Momeni
Prisha Jain
Rachel Sousa-Ho
Raesham Mahmood
Rekha Ravikumar
Richard Leu
Roohie Parmar
Sarah Dunnett
Sarah Kuburi
Shangyi Gao
Smia Baig
Soha Salman
Somieya Khan
Sophie Duffy
Sophie Vaccarino
Sophie Li
Stefanie Lu
Valentina Zuluaga Cuartas
Vanessa Baltazar
Walter Sim
Yuelee (Ben) Khoo
Yue (Lucia) Li
Yuqing Liu
Ziming (Jocelyn) Chen


Current Opportunities and Positions

Please note: The research program is always open to taking excellent students at all levels up to and including post-doctoral fellows and visiting scholars

Interested in joining our team?
Contact information
Venkat Bhat (Venkat.bhat@utoronto.ca