Neonatal Neuroscience Team

Photo of Dr. Steven Miller

Steven Miller, MDCM MAS

Hudson Family Hospital Chair in Pediatric Medicine, James & Annabel McCreary Chair in Pediatrics, Professor and Head, Dept Pediatrics, Faculty of Medicine, UBC, Chief Pediatric Medicine, BC Children’s Hospital & Sunny Hill Health Centre.

Affiliate Professor, Department of Pediatrics, University of Toronto, Adjunct Senior Scientist, SickKids Research Institute.

Bio

Dr. Steven Miller is Professor and Head, Dept of Pediatrics, Faculty of Medicine at the University of British Columbia, Chief Pediatric Medicine at BC Children’s Hospital & Sunny Hill Health Centre.  He is an Affiliate Professor, Dept of Pediatrics at the University of Toronto and Adjunct Senior Scientist at SickKids Research Institute.  Collaborating with a multidisciplinary team, Dr. Miller’s research program focuses on better understanding brain injury and development in the newborn. He and his team use advanced brain imaging and detailed long-term follow-up to help children who were born early or with conditions that put them at risk of neurological and developmental deficits. He has contributed to our understanding of brain abnormalities caused directly by premature birth, perinatal asphyxia or indirectly by congenital heart disease.

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Vann Chau, MD

Neurologist, Clinical Director of the Neonatal Neurology Program

Bio

Dr. Vann Chau is a Paediatric Neurologist at The Hospital for Sick Children. He is the Principle Investigator of the Paediatric Cardiac and Neurological Registry study currently ongoing. His research interest are studying brain injury and its effect on long term outcome in both premature infants and neonates with congenital heart disease.

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Emily Tam, MDCM MAS

Neurologist, Director of the Neonatal Neurology Fellowship Program

Bio

Dr. Emily Tam is a Paediatric Neurologist, Associate Scientist in Neurosciences & Mental Health and the Director of the Neonatal Neurology Fellowship Program at The Hospital for Sick Children.  She is an Associate Professor in the Department of Paediatrics at the University of Toronto. Collaborating with a multidisciplinary team, Dr. Tam’s research program focuses on better understanding reversible and nutritional risk factors for brain injury in term and preterm newborns, especially cerebellar development. Current research studies investigate the impact of glucose on brain injury in term neonatal encephalopathy and the impact of fatty acid and cholesterol levels on preterm brain injury and development.

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Mike Seed, MBBS, MRCPCH, FRCR

Division Head, Cardiology, Cardiac Radiologist, Associate Professor of Paediatrics University of Toronto, BMO Financial Group Chair in Cardiology

Bio

Dr. Mike Seed was appointed as a Paediatric Cardiologist and Radiologist at The Hospital for Sick Children in Toronto in 2011. He is an assistant professor of Pediatrics, Medical Imaging and Obstetrics and Gynecology at the University of Toronto. He is an Associate Scientist at the SickKids Research Institute and an Associate Member of the Institute of Medical Science. Mike is from England and went to medical school at the University of Newcastle-upon-Tyne in the United Kingdom, where he also undertook his basic specialist training in paediatrics. He moved to Leeds for his residency in Radiology and then completed fellowships in cardiac MRI and pediatric cardiology in Toronto. Mike’s clinical role at SickKids involves a combination of general inpatient and outpatient cardiology and cardiac imaging. In partnership with his colleagues in Neurology and Neonatology, he co-founded the Cardiac Neurodevelopment Program in 2015. His research has focused on the relationship between fetal and neonatal cardiovascular physiology and brain development. Mike lives in Mississauga with his wife Nina, who is a paediatric radiologist at MacMaster, and their two boys, Sam and Nick.

Linh Ly, MD

Neonatologist, Medical Director of the Neonatal Neurodevelopmental Follow Up Clinic

Bio

Dr. Linh Ly is a staff neonatologist and Medical Director of the Neonatal Neurodevelopmental Follow-Up Clinic at The Hospital for Sick Children. She is also an Assistant Professor in the Department of Paediatrics at the University of Toronto.  Her research focus is in neurodevelopmental outcomes of high risk neonates with acquired brain injury, congenital heart disease or born extremely preterm.

Amr El Shahed, MD, PhD, DHPE

Neonatologist, Co-Director Neonatal Neocritical Care Unit and Neonatal Neurology Fellowship Program

Bio

Dr. Amr El Shahed has special interest in brain health, follow-up, and neurodevelopmental outcome of preterm infants and neonates with hypoxic ischemic encephalopathy (HIE). Dr. El Shahed works on enhancing brain monitoring in newborns at risk for brain injury and optimizing developmental assessment and support in the Neonatal Neurodevelopmental follow up Clinic. His research is focused on studying: hemodynamics and cerebral oxygenation in neonates with HIE, pattern of brain injury and evaluation of different prognostic utilities in HIE. Dr. El Shahed studies the changes in cerebral oxygenation and cardiac function during hypothermia and rewarming in neonates with HIE. He is studying the association between cardiovascular biomarkers and inotropic drugs and outcome in neonates with HIE aiming to establish optimum hemodynamic targets in this population. He is planning to study the effect of postnatal steroids on cerebral and splanchnic oxygenation in preterm infants.

Mehmet Nevzat Cizmeci, MD, PhD

Neonatologist, Co-Director Neonatal Neurocritical Care Unit, Associate Professor of Pediatrics University of Toronto

Bio

Dr. Mehmet Nevzat Çizmeci is a staff neonatologist at SickKids and Assoc. professor of pediatrics at the University of Toronto. Mehmet graduated from Istanbul University Medical School in 2004 and after completing his pediatric residency and neonatology fellowship training in 2013, he started a research fellowship in neonatal neurology and PhD in neuroscience at Utrecht University in 2017. He joined the neonatal neurology team at SickKids as a clinical fellow in 2019 and received the Royal College Subspecialty Fellow Excellence Award. He then completed a further 2-year clinical/research fellowship as the Dr. Karen Pape Fellow in Neuroplasticity at SickKids and received his PhD degree in clinical and experimental neuroscience in 2022. Mehmet has a strong commitment to research and teaching. His research interests are optimizing treatment in neonatal hemorrhagic brain injury as well as understanding trajectories of neuronal plasticity, neuromodulation, and accurately predicting childhood neurodevelopmental outcomes.

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Davide Marini, MD, PhD (Consultant)

Cardiologist, University Hospital Southampton, UK

Bio

Dr. Davide Marini is Paediatric Cardiologist who joined the team in 2016. He studies the impact of congenital heart diseases on brain development in fetuses and newborns by using the MR technology. He completed his medical and pediatric training at the University of Verona, in Italy, where he also obtained a PhD in Multimodal Imaging. He has worked as pediatric radiologist and cardiologist in Paris, France at the Hôpital Necker Enfantes Malades, in Rome, at the Ospedale Pediatrico Bambino Gesù and in Turin at the Ospedale Infantile Regina Margherita, both in Italy.

Tricia Williams, PhD

Clinical Neuropsychologist

Bio

Using a patient-oriented research approach, Dr. Williams’s research program examines child neuropsychological outcomes and parent experiences following early brain injury. Dr. Williams and her team are currently evaluating an innovative eHealth parent intervention program targeting mental health needs reported by families.

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Jessie Guo, PhD

Senior Research Associate

Bio

Jessie is a Research Associate specialized in brain imaging and image analysis. She obtained her PhD degree in Biomedical Engineering from Western University and conducted her postdoctoral training at SicKids. Jessie develops quantitative image analysis methods to allow our team to study the development of the brain in several high-risk neonatal populations. Her current research work focuses on quantitative mapping of brain injury to predict brain development and neurodevelopmental outcomes in premature infants and infants with congenital heart disease.

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Stephanie Au-Young, PhD, PGDip, CCRP

Clinical Research Project Manager

Bio

Stephanie completed her PhD studies in the Department of Biochemistry and Biomedical Sciences at McMaster University. After completing her Post-doctoral Fellowship at the Samuel Lunenfeld Research Institute she obtained her degree to become a Clinical Research Associate. In the NeoNs lab, she coordinates the neurodevelopmental research studies in Cardiology and Neonatology, which includes managing neonatal follow-up, research ethics and study recruitment. Her current research interests are focused on improving neurodevelopmental outcomes through clinical care in the cardiac population.

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Daphne Kamino, M.Sc., CCRP, PMP

Clinical Research Project Manager

Bio

Daphne completed her Honours BSc (Biochemistry and Psychology double major) from the University of Toronto, MSc degree (Neuroscience) from the University of Ottawa and holds a Certified Clinical Research Professional designation.  Daphne has been working in clinical and basic research since 2004, in fields including neuroscience, psychology, biology, and chemistry, employing humans and various model organisms (rodents and drosophila).  Since January 2013, Daphne has been working with Dr. Tam on various multi-centred studies that investigate modifiable risk factors for brain injury and adverse neurodevelopmental outcomes in preterm and term neonates.

Liqun Sun, MD, PhD

Research Program Manager

Bio

My main research is the first to develop an award-winning, non-invasive technique for quantification fetal oxygen delivery and consumption, which has used to characterize human fetal circulation and cardiovascular physiology in the setting of congenital heart disease and placental insufficiency. I mainly  focus on novel approaches that address the technical challenges of imaging the fetus and explore new ways to assess and manage diseases that affect the fetal heart and placenta, and follow up the brain development in these different diseases.

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Alan Cooper, PhD

Clinical Research Project Manager

Bio

Alan is the research core coordinator for CHILD-BRIGHT, a pan-Canadian patient-oriented research network studying brain-based developmental disorders. Alan is interested in the fundamental mechanisms of nervous system development and research administration. He obtained his PhD (Neuroscience) under the supervision of Deda Gillespie at McMaster University, where he studied the refinement of inhibitory circuitry in the developing auditory brainstem.

Vanna Kazazian, MN, NP

Nurse Practitioner

Bio

Vanna is a Paediatric Nurse Practitioner in the Cardiac Neurodevelopment and Neonatal Neurology Programs at SickKids. She completed her master’s degree and Nurse Practitioner certificate at the University of Toronto. Her research interests focus on improving neurodevelopmental outcomes in patients with congenital heart disease.

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Amandeep Saini, RN

Clinical Research Nurse Coordinator

Bio

Amandeep is a Clinical Research Nurse Coordinator for studies of term born infants with congenital heart disease. She is responsible to organize and prepare infants for pre- and post-cardiac surgery and follow-up MRI scans as well as transportation and monitoring of the babies during the scan. She also conducts comprehensive chart review and data collection. She has a BScN from the Post Graduate Institute of Medical Education and Research in Chandigarh, India where she also was a bedside nurse in the NICU, paediatrics ward and an OR nurse for 13 years. Amandeep has been working at SickKids since 2003 in roles including a bedside nurse in the Cardiac Unit and a Vascular Access Nurse.

Photo of Giselle Da Rocha

Giselle Da Rocha, RN

Clinical Research Nurse Coordinator

Bio

Giselle is one of the Clinical Research Nurse Coordinators in the NeoNs Lab. She holds a Bachelor’s of Science in Nursing from York University. She has been employed by SickKids since 2008 and has been with the NeoNs Lab since 2014. She also works part-time in the NICU as a bedside RN. Her role in the studies include coordinating and executing safe transport of neonates to and from MRI, and collecting comprehensive patient information from medical records.

Photo of Dr. Ziqi Sun

Ziqi Sun, PhD

Research Analyst

Bio

Ziqi received a BSc in Chemistry from Nankai University in 1984 in Tianjin, China, a Ph.D. degree in Physical Chemistry from Virginia Tech in 1996 in Blacksburg, Virginia, United States, and a BSc in Computer Science from York University in 2001 in Toronto, Canada. As a Research Analyst, Ziqi’s work focuses on processing and analyzing MRI and MRS datasets collected on Siemens and GE scanners using ImageJ, Tarquin, and SAGE softwares, evaluating RF coil performance, and optimizing imaging protocols for the Siemens 3T Research Scanner.

Steven Ufkes, M.Sc.

Bioinformatician

Bio

Steven completed his Master’s degree in the Department of Physics at the University of Toronto. He splits his time between Dr. Miller’s lab and the Centre for Computational Medicine.

Ivan Salazar, MD

Neonatal Neurology Fellow

Bio

Ivan completed his pediatric neurology residency in The Technical Institute and Superior Studies of Monterrey (ITESM), in Monterrey, Mexico. He started to work as pediatric neurologist staff in a third level hospital since 2014, including teaching for residents in Pediatric Neurology. He also worked as professor in ITESM’s School of Medicine since 2017. His is currently doing his clinical fellowship in Neonatal Neurology at the Hospital for Sick Children. His current research focus is in the study of neonatal seizures in patients with perinatal asphyxia.

Thiviya Selvanathan, MD

Neonatal Neurology Fellow

Bio

Thiviya is a Neonatal Neurology Fellow and PhD student at the Hospital for Sick Children and University of Toronto. She also completed her pediatric neurology residency training at the University of TorontoThiviya is interested in studying early fetal, neonatal and childhood brain development using advanced neuroimaging techniques. Her research focuses on the application of multimodal neuroimaging techniques and machine learning to study the effects of pain and analgesia on the preterm brain

Marta Ybarra, MD

Neonatal Neurology Fellow

Bio

Marta is a staff neonatologist at La Paz University Hospital (Madrid, Spain) and a Neonatal Neurology Fellow at the Hospital for Sick Children. Her career path during these past years as a Neonatologist in a third level hospital has led her to specialize in advanced neonatal cranial Doppler ultrasonography. Neurodevelopmental impairment prediction based on neuroimaging tools is her current field of research.

Rhandi Christensen, MD, PhD

Neonatal Neurology Fellow

Bio

Rhandi is a Neonatal Neurology Fellow at SickKids and the University of Toronto. She completed her residency training in Pediatric Neurology at SickKids and she completed medical school at the University of Toronto. Rhandi also completed a PhD in Neuroscience at McMaster University as a Vanier Scholar. During residency, Rhandi developed a strong interest in studying outcomes of preterm infants. Her fellowship research will examine sex differences in neurodevelopmental outcomes and brain development in children born preterm.

Arthiga Arumugarasan, B. Sc.

Clinical Research Project Assistant

Bio

Arthiga completed her undergraduate degree at the University of McMaster in Life Sciences and has joined the team at SickKids as a Clinical Research Project Assistant. Arthiga helps facilitate multiple studies at the NeoNs lab that are looking at long-term neurodevelopmental outcomes in premature infants and those with congenital heart disease.

Yi Cheng Zhu, B. Sc.

Undergraduate Student

Bio

Yi Cheng is an undergraduate student currently studying Computer Science at the University of Toronto. He is currently working with Jessie Guo to develop and apply automated toolkits and pipelines in neuroimaging applications. Yi Cheng aims to apply Computer Science in the medical field, specifically in neuroimaging and signal processing.

Interested in joining our team?