Scientist profiles G-L

SRI Profiles

Nir Lipsman, MD, PhD


Sunnybrook Health Sciences Centre
2075 Bayview Ave., Room A1 39
Toronto, ON
M4N 3M5

Administrative Assistant: Beverly Tang


  • B.Sc., 2004, psychology, University of Toronto, Canada
  • MD, 2007, Queen’s University, Canada
  • PhD, 2013, U of T
  • FRCSC, 2016, neurosurgery, U of T
  • Clinical fellowship, 2016, stereotactic and functional neurosurgery, UHN, U of T

Appointments and Affiliations:

Research Foci:

  • Neuromodulation
  • Magnetic resonance-guided focused ultrasound
  • Deep brain stimulation
  • Clinical trials

Research Summary:

Dr. Lipsman’s research focuses on the development of novel neuromodulation strategies, which target sites within the central nervous system using electrical stimulation or drugs, 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.

Deep brain stimulation is a neurosurgical procedure used to treat symptoms linked to dysfunctional brain circuits. Dr. Lipsman is developing trials at Sunnybrook that will investigate the safety, clinical, imaging and neuropsychologic effects of DBS in patients with resistant mood and anxiety disorders, such as depression and PTSD. Working closely with collaborators in psychiatry, neurology and neuroimaging, his lab hopes to expand this work to other brain-based disorders, including coma, dementia and stroke.

Magnetic resonance-guided FUS is an image-based, noninvasive surgical procedure used to ablate brain tissue precisely, as well as gain access to the brain by opening the blood-brain barrier. Dr. Lipsman helped lead Canada’s first clinical trials of FUS in essential tremor and Parkinson’s disease, and is developing trials investigating FUS in obsessive-compulsive disorder, depression and Alzheimer’s disease. These Phase 1, first-in-human trials, done in collaboration with Dr. Kullervo Hynynen, director of Physical Sciences at Sunnybrook Research Institute, represent the latest advances in noninvasive surgery, which aims to reduce surgical risk while enhancing outcomes for the most challenging conditions.

Dr. Lipsman also has a strong interest in the broader clinical and ethical implications of neuromodulation, and has been closely involved in the development of international guidelines for the use of surgery in psychiatric disease. He is an active member of the Focused Ultrasound Foundation, where he sits on the foundation’s scientific program committee, and is engaged in the development of FUS protocols and programs worldwide and across the neuroscience spectrum, from preclinical to clinical studies.

Selected Publications:

See current publications list at PubMed.

  1. Lipsman N, Lozano AM. Cosmetic neurosurgery, ethics, and enhancement. Lancet Psychiatry. 2015 Jul;2(7):585–6.
  2. Lipsman N, Sankar T, Downar J, Kennedy SH, Lozano AM, Giacobbe P. Neuromodulation for treatment-refractory major depressive disorder. CMAJ. 2014 Jan 7;186(1):33–9.
  3. Lipsman N, Schwartz ML, Huang Y, Lee L, Sankar T, Chapman M, Hynynen K, Lozano AM. MR-guided focused ultrasound thalamotomy for essential tremor: a proof-of-concept study. Lancet Neurol. 2013 May;12(5):462–8.
  4. Lipsman N, Woodside DB, Giacobbe P, Hamani C, Carter JC, Norwood SJ, Sutandar K, Staab R, Elias G, Lyman CH, Smith GS, Lozano AM. Subcallosal cingulate deep brain stimulation for treatment-refractory anorexia nervosa: a phase 1 pilot trial. Lancet. 2013 Apr 20;381(9875):1361–70.
  5. Lozano AM, Lipsman N. Probing and regulating dysfunctional circuits using deep brain stimulation. Neuron. 2013 Feb 6;77(3):406–24.

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