Principal Investigator

Dr. Venkat Bhat

Email: venkat.bhat@utoronto.ca

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 Ryerson University. He collaborates closely with engineering, anesthesia, imaging, informatics, neurology and neurosurgery to offer emerging and procedural interventions for psychiatric disorders, his research program aims to understand treatment-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.


Post-Doctoral Fellow

Alice Rueda

Alice Rueda is a returning student from the industry. 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 received an Executive Certificate in accounting from Hong Kong University in 2012 and an (hc) LL.D. degree from Brock University in 2020, St. Catharines, ON. She is completing her doctoral degree at Ryerson University, Toronto, ON. Alice specializes in signal processing and applications of machine learning.


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 with 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 works as an on-duty psychiatrist at an emergency psychiatric service, hence she has developed extensive experience in severe mental disorders. Caroline is an incoming 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.


Research Coordinators

Ilya Demchenko

Research Coordinator Email: Ilya.Demchenko@unityhealth.to

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.


Walter Sim

Email: walter.Sim@unityhealth.to

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.


Data Analyst

Yuelee (Ben) Khoo

Data Analyst Email: yuelee.khoo@unityhealth.to

Yuelee is a research analyst at the Interventional Psychiatry Program. He is currently analyzing data from the Canadian Biomarker Integration Network in Depression (CAN-BIND) to investigate anti-depressants’ impact on sleep quality, anxiety, and sexual functioning. With an interest in psychosocial health and research methodology, he received his MSc in Biostatistics from the University of Toronto after pursuing his BSc in Psychology from Western University.


graduate (MSc/PhD) Students

Binh Nguyen

Graduate Student

Binh Nguyen received his B.Eng degree in Biomedical Engineering at Ryerson University, Toronto, Canada in 2019. Currently, he is a Ph.D. student at the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering, Ryerson 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.


Sophie Vaccarino

Graduate Student

Sophie is a Master’s student with St. Michael’s Hospital and the Institute of Medical Science at University of Toronto, specializing in anhedonia, neuroimaging, and biomarkers of antidepressant response. She also works as the research coordinator for a long-term follow-up study of individuals receiving deep-brain stimulation for treatment-resistant depression; and as a research assistant for the Canadian Biomarker Integration Network in Depression. Sophie received her HBSc from Queen’s University, studying Life Sciences and Psychology, and hopes to pursue a medical degree in the future with the aim of continuing clinical research in the field of precision psychiatry.


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.


Physician Assistant

Fathima Adamsahib

Physician Assistant Email: Fathima.Adamsahib@unityhealth.to

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.


Research Assistants

Maggie Kamila Kiraga

Email: Maggie.Kiraga@unityhealth.to

Maggie is a Research Assistant within the Interventional Psychiatry Program and CAN-BIND at Unity Health Toronto. She joined the team to support research and knowledge translation in the growing field examining the use of novel, chemical compounds for psychiatric treatment and their emerging place in the Canadian healthcare sector. She supports manuscript preparation, literature reviews, conference organization, and various other duties required by the research team. Maggie first graduated with an MSc in Clinical Psychology from the University of Ghent, Belgium. She pursued her second MSc in Neuropsychology at the University of Maastricht, the Netherlands, where she reinforced her interests with the fields of neuropsychology, psychedelics, mental health, and the relationship between them.


Roohie Parmar

Roohie Parmar has a Honours Bachelor of Science in Psychology from the University of Toronto and a Masters of Science in Global Health from McMaster University. Her professional interests are within psychiatry, community medicine and reducing health disparities.


Undergraduate Students

Martin Ivanov

Martin Ivanov is a B.Eng student enrolled in Biomedical Engineering at the University of Ryerson, Toronto, Ontario, Canada and is expecting to graduate in 2022. 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 Ryerson University, Toronto, Ontario, Canada.


Luke Vanden Broek

Luke Vanden Broek is currently pursuing his B.Eng degree in Biomedical Engineering at the University of Guelph, Canada and is expecting to graduate in 2022. He is specializing in Biosignals and is also in the process of completing a minor in Neuroscience. Currently, he is working as a summer research assistant as part of the Signal Analysis Research group at Ryerson University, Toronto, Ontario, Canada.


KRSS Summer Students

Helen Liu

Undergraduate Volunteer

I’m a third-year undergraduate in the Honours Psychology program at McGill. I’m extremely passionate about both the research and therapeutic aspects of psychology, particularly in regard to mood and anxiety disorders. I hope to pursue clinical psychology in the future to help those afflicted with mental health issues, not only by providing psychotherapy but also by studying ways to make treatment more effective and beneficial for the client. I’m eager to help research novel forms of treatment for depression and other disorders because of the incredible impact it could have on many people’s lives and the ground-breaking advances we’d be making in the field.


Joseph Salvo

I’m Joseph Salvo, entering my fourth year at the University of Toronto, majoring in Neuroscience and Double-Minoring in Physiology and Psychology! I hope to be accepted into medical school where I will strive to become a neurologist! My research interests center around the phenomenon of neurogenesis as I wish to advance research focusing on this topic as a way to reverse neurological conditions that involve the loss of neurons.


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.


Jaimie Kerzner

Jaimie Kerzner is a research student with the Interventional Psychiatry program. She has just completed her undergraduate degree in Life Sciences at Queen’s University and will be entering her first year as a medical student at University of Toronto. She is interested in the field of psychiatry, and specifically in research aiming to find novel treatments for depression and other mental disorders.


Sarah Kuburi

I am a recent graduate of the B.A Honours Psychology program at York University. My primary interests include psychological interventions, mood disorders, and growth and development over the lifespan. In particular, how experiences in childhood and adolescence can contribute to the development of mood disorders in adulthood and their treatment. In the future, I hope to further my knowledge in this area and pursue training at the graduate level in developmental and clinical psychology.


Visiting Students

Aksharra Balachandran

Medical Student

Aksharra is currently a third year medical student at Trinity College Dublin. Prior to starting medical school she completed her Honours Bachelor of Science from the University of Toronto specializing in Neuroscience. Aksharra has currently been helping the team look at the therapeutic potential of ketamine in treating chronic pain and chronic depression. Aksharra has strong interests within the realm of mental health and hopes to pursue her career in Family Medicine or Psychiatry.

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