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Our team

Dr. Nir Lipsman

Dr. Nir Lipsman, MD, PhD

Dr. Nir Lipsman is the Director of Sunnybrook’s Harquail Centre for Neuromodulation (HCN), and the Clinical Director of Sunnybrook’s Focused Ultrasound Centre of Excellence. Dr. Lipsman is a neurosurgeon and scientist at Sunnybrook Health Sciences Centre, and Assistant Professor of Surgery, and Director of Neurosurgery Residency Program at the University of Toronto. He completed his undergraduate degree at the University of Toronto followed by a medical degree at Queen’s University, and a neurosurgical residency at the University of Toronto. During his residency, Dr. Lipsman completed his PhD investigating novel neuromodulation strategies in patients with treatment-resistant psychiatric and neurologic conditions. Dr. Lipsman’s research focuses on the development of novel neuromodulation strategies for neurologic and psychiatric conditions that are difficult to treat. Over the last 10+ years, Dr. Lipsman has helped develop several Phase 1 to Phase 3 clinical trials of deep brain stimulation (DBS) and MR-guided focused ultrasound (FUS) in novel indications, including the world’s first trial of DBS in chronic anorexia nervosa, and among the first published experiences of FUS for essential tremor. He has published over 150 peer-reviewed papers and book chapters, including in The Lancet, Lancet Neurology, Lancet Psychiatry, New England Journal of Medicine, and Neuron.

Dr. Peter Giacobbe

Dr. Peter Giacobbe BSc, MD, MSc, FRCPC
Clinical Lead

Dr. Peter Giacobbe is the Clinical Lead of the Harquail Centre for Neuromodulation and a psychiatrist in the Department of Psychiatry at Sunnybrook Health Sciences Centre. He is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Psychiatry at the University of Toronto, with appointments in the Division of Brain and Therapeutics and the Division of Geriatric Psychiatry. He completed medical school at the University of Western Ontario, followed by residency, fellowship training and graduate school at the University of Toronto. Dr. Giacobbe’s clinical and research interests focus on the development and evaluation of novel direct-to-brain treatment strategies for individuals with treatment-resistant mood disorders. He has contributed to the 2009 & 2016 CANMAT Guidelines for the Management of Major Depressive Disorder and has published over 70 articles and book chapters on the topics of mood disorders and brain stimulation, including papers in the American Journal of Psychiatry, Biological Psychiatry, Brain StimulationCMAJ, Lancet, and Neuropsychopharmacology.

Dr. Clement Hamani

Dr. Clement Hamani, MD, PhD
Pre-Clinical Lead

Dr. Clement Hamani is the Pre-Clinical Lead of the Harquail Centre for Neuromodulation, and a neurosurgeon and scientist at Sunnybrook Health Sciences Centre. Dr. Hamani received his medical degree from Escola Paulista de Medicina in São Paulo, Brazil in 1993, where he also received his PhD in Neurosciences. He completed a Research and Clinical Fellowship in Functional Neurosurgery at the Division of Neurosurgery at Toronto Western Hospital.

In 2008, Dr. Hamani joined the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health as a Research Associate and became an Assistant Professor at the University of Toronto, Division of Neurosurgery. In 2013, he won the Ohye Award, awarded by the World Society for Stereotactic and Functional Neurosurgery (WSSFN) to promote clinical research in stereotactic and functional neurosurgery. Dr. Hamani is Full Professor at the Division of Neurosurgery and a Board Member of the World Society for Stereotactic and Functional Neurosurgery. Dr. Hamani’s research focuses on the treatment of movement disorders, epilepsy, and psychiatric disorders.

Dr. Clement Hamani

Dr. Jenny Rabin
Neuropsychology Lead

Dr. Jenny Rabin is the Neuropsychology Lead of the Harquail Centre for Neuromodulation and a Scientist at Sunnybrook Research Institute. Dr. Rabin completed her MA/PhD in Clinical Psychology at York University, with a specialization in Neuropsychology. She then went on to complete a joint clinical and research postdoctoral fellowship at Massachusetts General Hospital/Harvard Medical School.

As the Neuropsychology lead, Dr. Rabin will characterize cognitive and behavioural changes associated with neuromodulation strategies in treatment-resistant psychiatric disorders, including obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD), major depressive disorder (MDD) and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), as well as neurodegenerative disorders, such as Alzheimer’s disease.

In 2016, Dr. Rabin was the recipient of the Governor General’s Academic Gold Medal. In 2019, she received the 2019 Young Investigator Award at the international Human Amyloid Imaging Conference.

Dr. Agessandro Abrahao

Dr. Agessandro Abrahao
Focused Ultrasound Investigator

Dr. Agessandro Abrahao is a Focused Ultrasound Investigator of the Harquail Centre for Neuromodulation and a neurologist at Sunnybrook. He is an assistant professor in the department of Medicine (Neurology) at the University of Toronto. Dr. Abrahao received his MSc degree in Neuroscience from the Federal University of Sao Paulo, Brazil and in Clinical Epidemiology from the Institute of Health Policy, Management and Evaluation, University of Toronto. He completed an advanced fellowship training in ALS/ Neuromuscular Diseases at Sunnybrook Health Sciences Centre - University of Toronto and is certified in EMG techniques by the Canadian Society of Clinical Neurophysiologists. Dr. Abrahao also served as the inaugural Sunnybrook Focused Ultrasound Fellow.

Dr. Abrahao’s research aims to expand the clinical trials of MR-guided focused ultrasound for neurological diseases. His research interests also include clinical trials and epidemiological studies of ALS and other neurodegenerative disorders. He is also interested in the development of biomarkers for motor neuron function using transcranial magnetic stimulation and motor unit count techniques.

Dr. Sean Nestor.

Dr. Sean Nestor MD, PhD, FRCPC
Clinician Investigator

Dr. Sean Nestor is an assistant professor in the department of psychiatry at U of T with appointments in the Division of Brain and Therapeutics. He is a staff interventional psychiatrist at the Harquail Centre for Neuromodulation, Sunnybrook Health Sciences Centre, and an associate scientist at the Sunnybrook Research Institute, Evaluative Clinical Sciences Research Platform, Hurvitz Brain Sciences Program.

Dr. Sean Nestor trained in health sciences, biology and medical biophysics before completing his medical and doctoral studies at the University of Toronto, MD/PhD Program in 2016. He subsequently completed his residency in psychiatry at the University of Toronto in 2021 and Sean Nestor’s work uses neuroimaging methods to investigate the neurobiological mechanisms that underpin neuromodulation treatments such as transcranial magnetic stimulation, electroconvulsive therapy, deep brain stimulation and magnetic resonance-guided focused ultrasound treatment in treatment resistant psychiatric disorders. His work also merges neuroimaging technologies to enhance the delivery of neuromodulation treatments in psychiatric disorders. He has received funding from CIHR, the Labatt Family Network for Research in Depression, Norris Scholars Award and the Sunnybrook Foundation. He has published peer reviewed articles on topics including mood disorders, neuroimaging, neurostimulation and dementia in several leading medical and scientific journals such as Brain, The American Journal of Psychiatry, Neuropsychopharmacology, Neuroimage, Human Brain Mapping, Alzheimer’s & Dementia and Neurology.

Allison Bethune

Allison Bethune, MSc
Research Manager, Neurodegenerative Diseases and HCN Business Manager

As a Research Manager with the Harquail Centre for Neuromodulation, Allison manages trials related to blood brain barrier opening for Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s Disease as well as Neuroethics. She is also involved in financial management of HCN activities. Prior to clinical research, Allison performed intraoperative electrophysiology for neurosurgery and trauma patient populations at Sunnybrook. She holds a Master’s degree in neuroimaging through the University of Toronto and Hospital for Sick Children. For Allison, the rewards of clinical trial management lie in enhancing the efficiency of multi-disciplinary teams and turning scientific discovery into innovative treatment options for patients.

Anusha Baskaran

Anusha Baskaran, PhD
Research Manager, Psychiatric Disorders

Anusha Baskaran is the Research Manager for Neuromodulation in Psychiatry at the Harquail Centre for Neuromodulation. Anusha completed her PhD in Clinical Neuroscience from Queen’s University in collaboration with the Canadian Biomarker Integration Network in Depression (CAN-BIND) at the University Health Network, and is experienced in clinical trial management. Anusha’s goal is to help improve treatment for psychiatric patients with treatment resistant illness by facilitating new developments of neuromodulation, and by maximizing the benefit of research collaborations and partnerships of growing networks.

Maheleth Llinas

Maheleth Llinas, BSc
Research Manager, Oncology and HCN Operations

Maheleth Llinas has more than 10 years of experience in clinical trials and regulatory compliance. She has collaborated on several Phase 1 – 4 human drug trials in previous Coordinator, Quality and Regulatory,, Assistant Medical Writer and Medical Affairs roles. In 2014, she joined the Sunnybrook Hospital research team where she managed the first ever pivotal trial in Canada for Magnetic Resonance Guided Focused Ultrasound (MRgFUS) for Essential Tremors. Since then, she has managed several studies involving invasive and non-invasive medical devices in brain related diseases such as: Alzheimer’s disease, broad movement disorders, ALS and brain tumors. She is also oversees the day to day operations of HCN. Maheleth has a strong commitment to advancing medical research and passion for working in challenging therapeutic areas.

Nadia Scantlebury, PhD
Coordinator, Management of Movement Disorders

Nadia completed a PhD in Behavioural Neuroscience at McMaster University. She began her research career investigating the impact of white matter injury on cognitive functioning in pediatric populations in the brain tumour and sickle cell programs at The Hospital for Sick Children. She joined Sunnybrook in 2015 and has supported several clinical trials in traumatic brain injury. Currently, Nadia oversees the Movement Disorders platform including MRI guided focused ultrasound (MRgFUS) trials for medication-refractory essential tremor and multiple sclerosis as well as the clinical MRgFUS treatments for these neurological disorders. Nadia’s objective is to provide compassionate support in the care of patients with movement disorders and to continue expanding her expertise in focused ultrasound and neuromodulation.

Trainees and Research Staff 

  • Dr. Ying Meng, Grad student/neurosurgery resident
  • Dr. Benjamin Davidson, Grad student/neurosurgery resident
  • Karim Mithani, Grad student/neurosurgery resident
  • Madeline Wood, Grad student
  • Sara Mullin, Grad student
  • Claire Lauzon, Grad student
  • Chris Pople, Master student/ Research Technician (Oncology and Neurodegenerative Trials)
  • Camryn Rohringer, Coordinator (Movement Disorders)
  • Jillian Koebel, Clinical Research Coordinator (Oncology and Neurodegenerative Trials)
  • Alexander Nyman, Research Assistant (Neuropsychology)
  • Georgia Gopinath, Research Assistant (Neuropsycholgy)

Sunnybrook Collaborators

Fellowship and graduate research opportunities are available. Please email with “Graduate Research Opportunities” in the subject line.