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 Psychiatry 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 Fellow

Dr. Alice Rueda

Alice completed her Ph.D. degree in electrical engineering from Ryerson University, Toronto, ON in 2021. After working in the industry for more than a decade, Alice decided to go back to academia. She received a B.Sc. degree in electrical engineering and an M.Sc. 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 (hc) LL.D. degree from Brock University, St. Catharines, ON in 2020. Alice specializes in signal processing and applications of machine learning.

Email: alice.rueda@unityhealth.to


Dr. 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 Psychiatry Program at St. Michael’s Hospital, under the supervision of Dr. Bhat.

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

Email: fatemeh.gholamalinezhad@unityhealth.to


Research Fellow

Dr. Caroline Espinola

Caroline is a psychiatrist. She received her medical degree at the University of Pernambuco, where she also underwent a residency program in psychiatry in collaboration with Pernambuco Health State Secretary, both in Recife, Brazil. She received her MSc. in Biomedical Engineering at the Federal University of Pernambuco, where she studied vocal biomarkers as auxiliary tools for the diagnosis of mental disorders using machine learning algorithms. She had previously worked as an on-duty psychiatrist at an emergency psychiatric service; hence, she has extensive experience working with severe mental disorders. Caroline is a research fellow at the University of Toronto and within the Interventional Psychiatry Program at St. Michael’s Hospital, under the direct supervision of Dr. Bhat. Her main research interests are computational psychiatry, digital phenotyping, and severe mental disorders, particularly mood disorders.

Email: caroline.espinola@mail.utoronto.ca


Research Coordinators

Ilya Demchenko

Ilya is a Research Coordinator for 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.

Email: Ilya.Demchenko@unityhealth.to


Walter Sim

 

Walter is the research coordinator for several projects including the Mobile/Digital Interventions pillar within the Interventional Psychiatry Program, managing the initial setup and ongoing operation of several concurrent studies.  He holds an HBSc from the University of Toronto and a Certified Clinical Research Professional designation from the Society of Clinical Research Associates.  Having previously run a host of studies investigating the role of neurostimulation, psychoactive medications, or anaesthetic agents on mood disorders, Walter has developed a keen interest in leveraging the efficiency of mobile platforms to identify key indicators of distress and to promote mental wellness.

 

Email: Walter.Sim@unityhealth.to



Research Assistants

Vanessa Tassone

Vanessa Tassone is a Research Assistant within the Interventional Psychiatry Program. Vanessa has a Specialized Honours Bachelor of Arts degree in Psychology from York University. Her research interests include mood and eating disorders, as well as the neuroscience of depression. Vanessa plans to pursue a career in Clinical Psychology.

 

E-mail: vanessa.tassone@unityhealth.to


Valentina Zuluaga Cuartas

Valentina Zuluaga is a Research Assistant within the Interventional Psychiatry Program. Valentina has an Honours Bachelor of Science degree in Psychology from Trent University.

Her research interests involve psychoactive medications for the treatment of mood disorders and understanding the functional, behavioural, molecular, and cellular aspects of the nervous system. In the future, Valentina hopes to pursue a career in Psychiatry. Outside of work, she enjoys volunteering and spending time with her loved ones, two cats, and one dog.

 

Email: Valentina.Zuluaga@unityhealth.to


Sarah Dunnett

Sarah Dunnett is a Research Assistant within the Interventional Psychiatry Program. She holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in Psychology from Toronto Metropolitan Univeristy. Sarah’s research interests include the treatment of mood and anxiety disorders, as well as their interactions with sex hormones and developmental processes.

 

Email: Sarah.Dunnett@unityhealth.to


Data Analyst

Michelle Wu

 

Michelle is a Data Quality Analyst in the Interventional Psychiatry Program at St. Michael’s Hospital. She is currently completing her MSc in Biostatistics at the University of Toronto and obtained her BSc in Biology & Mathematics from McMaster University. For her MSc practicum, she investigated the connection between depression treatment outcomes and sleep using datasets from the Canadian Biomarker Integration Network in Depression (CAN-BIND). She is interested in applying both statistical and machine-learning methods in a clinical setting.

 

Email: miche.wu@mail.utoronto.ca


Graduate (MSc/PhD) Students

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.

 

Email: binh.nguyen@ryerson.ca


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.

 

Email: martin.ivanov@ryerson.ca


Raesham Mahmood

I completed my Undergraduate in Neuroscience and Psychology from the University of Toronto (HBSc) in 2019 and am currently present in the lab as a Graduate candidate completing my MSc at the Institute of Medical Science. Some of my academic interests include pharmacology, mathematics, and translational and clinical sciences. Outside of school, I’m usually working on a DIY home renovation project or finding a new art medium to work with.

 

Email: raesham.mahmood@mail.utoronto.ca


Clinicians

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.

 

Email: Perry.Menzies@unityhealth.to


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.

 

Email: Fathima.Adamsahib@unityhealth.to


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.

 

Email: Gurpreet.Saini@Unityhealth.to


Undergraduate Students

Khaled Mesbah

I’m an engineering student at INSA of Rennes (France) in the Electronics and Computer Engineering speciality. I completed my fourth year at INSA and my second year in this speciality. I’m especially interested in the medical field which is a good application to a lot of disciplines such as signal processing or Machine Learning. Outside of school, I play football (soccer) in the TA Rennes club (national level).


Prisha Jain

I am a fourth-year student in the specialized honours BSc psychology program at York University. My interests include neuroscience and developmental psychology, along with the role of different hormones and neurotransmitters in terms of mood disorders. In the future, I hope to attend graduate studies in clinical psychology.


Rekha Ravikumar

I’m Rekha, a fourth-year undergraduate student studying Neuroscience and Psychology at the University of Toronto. I’m interested in using neuroimaging to subclassify and find biomarkers for neuropsychiatric disorders. In the future, I wish to attend medical school and become a neurologist!


Richard Leu

Richard Leu received his BMSc and MSc degree from Western University in 2018 and 2020 respectively and is currently a 2nd year medical student at the University of Toronto. His academic interests within the program currently include psychiatry, family medicine, obstetrics & gynaecology, as well as internal medicine.


Sophie Li

My name is Sophie and I just finished my first year of medical school. I have an interest in mood disorders and would like to pursue a career in psychiatry. Some hobbies of mine include cooking, trying new restaurants, swimming, and reading novels.


KRSS Summer Students

Arpana Balachandar

Arpana is a first-year medical student at the University of Toronto and a summer research student in the KRSS program. She completed her undergraduate degree at the University of Windsor in Behaviour, Cognition, and Neuroscience and is interested in researching neurostimulation therapies for treatment-resistant mood disorders. In the future, Arpana hopes to pursue a career in Psychiatry or Neurology.


Emily Kapustin

I’m Emily Kapustin, entering my second year of the Health Sciences Honours program at Queen’s University. As a prospective physician and researcher, I am extremely interested in studying both pharmacology and neurophysiology, specifically as it pertains to neuropsychiatric illness.


Anne-Marie Di Passa

I am a fourth year undergraduate student at the University of Toronto studying Neuroscience and Psychology. I am passionate about contributing to the growing body of research on mental health and psychiatric disorders, as well as working to improve the lives of those struggling with these disorders. My areas of interest include the physiological bases for mood disorders, particularly anxiety and depressive disorders.


Geetha Samy

Geetha has just recently finished her Honours Bachelor of Science from Western University, specializing in Developmental Cognitive Neuroscience. She is interested in psychiatric disorders and their development from childhood to adulthood. She is also interested in research surrounding novel treatments for various psychiatric disorders. She hopes to pursue a career in medicine in the future.


Madeline Chan

A mentally disabled pre-med student, she aspires to work in mental health research to better treat and advocate for fellow neurodivergent people in healthcare. Her main academic interest is in studying treatment and outcomes for mentally disabled people with psychiatric disorders, especially autism – a community with whom she proudly and strongly identifies.


Nika Momeni

My name is Nika Momeni and I am currently finishing my 3rd academic year in Biomedical Engineering at Toronto Metropolitan University (TMU). At TMU, I’m also involved in the Women in Engineering (WiE) student group as a VP Mentorship and have been an orientation leader for the last few years. Outside of school, I enjoy playing football and watching classic films. I look forward to meeting new people through this opportunity and I’m excited to get started!


ALUMNI

Aksharra Balachandran
Helen Liu
Huaqi Li (huaqi.li@yale.edu)
Jack Yassa
Jaimie Kerzner
Joseph Salvo
Karim Al-Mradi
Luke Vanden Broek
Maggie Kamila Kiraga
Manish Dama
Roohie Parmar
Sarah Kuburi
Soha Salman (soha.salman@sickkids.ca)
Sophie Vaccarino
Stefanie Lu
Yuelee (Ben) Khoo

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