Division of Neurosurgery Research

Research training is one of the most important facets of the residency training program in neurosurgery at the University of Toronto. Basic science research opportunities are now available in the laboratories of many faculty members in the fields of cerebrovascular, brain tumor, peripheral nerve, spinal cord injury and regeneration, head injury, stereotactic and functional, and hydrocephalus research. In the year 2005-2006, the neurosurgery faculty received over $5 million of research funding from external granting agencies.

The primary intent of the time period spent on research is to prepare a resident to establish his/her own independent research unit on graduation. Because of the rich resources available to the Division of Neurosurgery for research, it is preferable, but not mandatory, that residents undertake their research within one of the laboratories within the Division of Neurosurgery at the University of Toronto.

Funding for residents undertaking research is provided by the Surgeon Scientist Program (SSP) in the Department of Surgery in which research residents will enroll. Residents are strongly encouraged to obtain funding for their research projects from external granting agencies. Most have been successful in this regard. 

Residents generally spend a minimum of two years on full time research training, and are encouraged to obtain a higher degree (M.Sc. or Ph.D.) during this time period. Research opportunities should be discussed with Dr. Peter Dirks, Research Director, at least one year in advance of the intended initiation of the research project. Co-ordination of the timing of research in a resident’s training must also be discussed with Dr. Abhaya Kulkarni, Program Director.

A current listing of research laboratories in the Division of Neurosurgery in which residents can undertake research with faculty supervisors is listed below.

Cerebrovascular Research, Toronto Western Hospital Research Insitute and Playfair Neuroscience Centre


Dr. Michael Tymianski – mechanisms of neuronal protection following cerebral ischemia 
Cerebrovascular Research, St. Michael's Hospital

Dr Loch Macdonald – the molecular mechanisms of cerebral vasospasm following aneurysmal subarachnoid hemorrhage 

Dr Julian Spears – clinical trials design and research in patients with cerebral vascular malformations and aneurysms 

Arthur and Sonia Labatt Brain Tumour Research Centre, MaRS Discovery Site and The Hospital for Sick Children


Dr. James Rutka – molecular biology of human gliomas 
Dr. Peter Dirks – stem cells in neuro-oncology 
Dr. Jane McGlade – signal transduction mechanisms of cell growth 
Dr. Michael Taylor - molecular genetic approaches to medulloblastoma and ependymoma 

Spinal Cord Injury and Regeneration, Krembil Neurosciences Centre, The Toronto Western Hospital


Dr. Charles Tator – mechanisms of spinal cord injury protection 
Dr. Michael Fehlings – cellular mechanisms of spinal cord injury

Dr. Nicolas Phan – pathophysiology of acute head trauma

Dr. James Drake – mathematical modeling of hydrocephalus

Dr. Andres Lozano – mapping of movement disorder pathways 
Dr. Moji Hodaie– thalami stimulation to control intractable epilepsy 
Dr. Taufik Valiante– computational neuronal network analysis in human epilepsy

Clinical Trials Design and Clinical Epidemiology
Dr Abhaya Kulkarni– outcome measures in hydrocephalus