PEOPLE

Meet the neuroArm team. Scroll down to see everyone, or click on a category below for a shortcut.

Current Staff
Dr. Garnette Sutherland Professor of Neurosurgery (Faculty of Medicine, University of Calgary)
Garnette Sutherland
Dr. Garnette Sutherland began his medical career in 1984 following an undergraduate education in Chemistry and a medical degree from the University of Manitoba. An interest in neurosurgery was sparked through a clinical clerkship at the Montreal Neurological Institute and the influences of Theodore Rasmussen and Dwight Parkinson. His residency in Neurosurgery was completed at the University of Western Ontario under the supervision of Skip Peerless and the legendary Charles Drake. Following residency, Dr. Sutherland’s first appointment was at the University of Manitoba, in both the Departments of Surgery and Pharmacology.
In 1993, Sutherland was invited to become the head of the Division of Neurosurgery at the University of Calgary, a responsibility he fulfilled until 2003. He re-established his medical research laboratory, focusing on the study of central nervous system neoplasia, brain ischemia and stroke using MR spectroscopy. His evolving research interests, ranging from fundamental bench research to clinical integration, have attracted over $50M in external peer-reviewed funding to the University of Calgary.
In collaboration with the National Research Council Institute for Biodiagnostics, Sutherland developed an intraoperative MRI (iMRI) system based on a moveable 1.5T magnet. The invention, a world first, formed the basis of a spin-off company, IMRIS. IMRIS has now successfully commercialized the technology, selling 42 systems and employing over 180 people, and is publicly-traded on the Toronto Stock Exchange (TSX:IM). In 2004, Dr. Sutherland received the Ernest C. Manning Award of Distinction for his work and the Canadian Healthcare Manager’s Who’s Who in Healthcare award for Medical Research in 2005. In 2007, the project received the Federal Partners in Technology Transfer Excellence in Technology Transfer Award.
To take full advantage of the iMRI environment, Sutherland, in collaboration with Macdonald Dettwiler and Associates, developed neuroArm, an image-guided MR-compatible robotic system for stereotaxy and microsurgery. The robot has earned Dr. Sutherland the 2007 Alberta Science and Technology Leadership Foundation award for Outstanding Leadership in Alberta Technology and the 2008 City of Calgary Signature Award. In 2012, Dr. Sutherland was also honoured to become a Member of the Order of Canada for his lifetime achievements in the field of medical innovation.
In his time away from work, Sutherland enjoys fishing and researching the newest sports cars.
Kourosh Zareinia Robotics Engineer
Kourosh Zareinia
Kourosh was born in Stanford, California and was raised in Iran where he earned a Bachelor of Science in Electrical Engineering (Electronics) from Isfahan University of Technology in Isfahan, Iran, and a Master of Science in Electrical Engineering (Control Systems) from University of Tehran, Tehran, Iran. He earned his PhD in Mechanical Engineering (Robotics) from the University of Manitoba in Winnipeg. His research interests have included robotics, haptics, master-slave teleoperation, hydraulic manipulators, tactile feedback and virtual fixtures. Currently, Kourosh works on design, development and integration of advanced haptics and robotics on neuroArm.
Fang Wei Yang Robotics Technician
Fang Wei Yang
Fang Wei was born and raised in China. He was trained in plastic surgery and practiced until his immigration to Canada in 1989. He began working with Garnette Sutherland while in Winnipeg, Manitoba, as a research assistant in the small animal laboratory. Together, Sutherland and Yang used small animal models of both global and focal brain ischemia to elucidate mechanisms and treatments of stroke. In 1993, Fang Wei relocated to Calgary with Sutherland to assist in the re-establishment of his research lab. His well-above-average microsurgical skills have been instrumental to the mentorship of surgical residents and his knowledge of physiology crucial for experimental design and execution. Fang Wei now performs the duties of robotic technician with neuroArm, providing a leadership role in the set up and maintenance of the Advanced Prototyping and Engineering Laboratory.
Pamela Leblanc Charge Nurse Intraoperative MRI
Pamela Leblanc
A backbone of the clinical integration work at Project neuroArm, Pam provides leadership as the Charge Nurse of the intraoperative MRI operating suite (iMRI OR) and Nurse Clinician for the neuroArm surgical team. Pam was born in Bassano, Alberta, and graduated from the Foothills School of Nursing with an RN diploma and special certification in Perioperative Nursing. Following school, Pam dove into a career in the operating rooms of the Foothills Medical Centre and developed a love of neurosurgery there. She has been managing the iMRI OR since its opening in 1997 and today her responsibilities extend as a Nurse Clinican for the ENT service. Routinely, Pam is called upon to interface between research and clinical care, between Alberta Health Services and the University of Calgary. She is instrumental in the smooth integration of new technology into the OR as it relates to administration, OR workflow, and sterility. She is mom to son Brenden and daughter Kara, and a very proud grandma to grandson Caden. In her free time Pam enjoys decorating and reading, spending time outdoors hiking, gardening, and quading and especially loves time with her grandson.
Liu Shi Gan Robotics Engineer
Liu Shi Gan
Liu Shi Gan was born and raised in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. She earned a Bachelor of Science degree in Electrical Engineering and a PhD degree in Biomedical Engineering from the University of Alberta, Edmonton. From 2010 to 2011, she was a postdoctoral fellow with Center for Neuroscience, and a Research Assistant at Department of Speech Pathology and Audiology at University of Alberta. She is currently a postdoctoral fellow at IMRIS Inc. and is involved in the development and clinical integration of neuroArm. Her research interests include surgical robotics and neuroprostheses.
Yaser Maddahi Eyes High Postdoctoral Fellow
Yaser Maddahi
Yaser received his B.Sc. and M.Sc. from Iran, in 2001 and 2003, respectively. He received his PhD degree from the University of Manitoba, Canada. He is currently a Postdoctoral Fellow with Project neuroArm, Faculty of Medicine at the University of Calgary. He has been a member of IEEE, ASME, and CSME since 2009. He was a lecturer and the head of the Robotics and Automation Research Laboratory at the Islamic Azad University (Saveh branch) in Iran. He has also been a lecturer at the University of Manitoba and the International College of Manitoba (ICM), Winnipeg, Canada. Yaser’s research interests include networked robotics, wireless control of teleoperation systems, hydraulic telemanipulators, haptics, design of feedback control systems, manipulability, and calibration of mobile robots.
Stefan Wolfsberger Research Fellow
Stefan Wolfsberger
Dr. Stefan Wolfsberger, a native of Vienna, Austria received his medical and neurosurgical training from the Medical University of Vienna. Following his residency under the supervision of Chairman Professor Wolfgang Koos and Professor Engelbert Knosp, he was appointed Associate Professor of Neurosurgery in 2005. He also completed a postgraduate MBA in Health Care Management at the Medical University of Vienna in 2009. Stefan’s research interests include advanced imaging techniques in neuroendoscopy, multimodal neuronavigation, 3D visualization, surgical simulation and fluorescence guidance. He is currently on a clinical fellowship with Dr. Sutherland, working to integrate navigation and 3D imaging with neuroArm. He has recently been appointed Adjunct Professor with the University of Calgary Department of Clinical Neurosciences.
Current Students
Sanju Lama
Sanju Lama
Sanju, a native of Pokhara, Nepal, comes to the research team following completion of her Masters of Science thesis entitled, “MRI diagnosis of descending corticospinal tract degeneration in experimental neonatal cerebral hypoxia-ischemia”. While still in Nepal, Sanju earned her medical degree and license from the Nepal Medical Council and worked as the Senior House Officer in the Department of Surgery, Division of Neurosurgery. She also worked as a clinical research officer at the South Asian Pneumococcal Alliance at the Kanti Children’s Hospital in Kathmandu, Nepal and as a clinical research fellow with the enteric fever clinical trial in the Patan Hospital’s Oxford Research Unit in Lalitpur, Nepal. Sanju is now working to complete her PhD on cerebral metabolism in traumatic brain injury (TBI), studying metabolic perturbations in severe TBI with MRI and MR spectroscopy. Sanju maintains a close connection with her Nepalese roots, spending her free time hiking, doing yoga, travelling and reading.
Don Peterson
Don Peterson
Don brings 25 years of experience in academic and industrial engineering design, analysis, and leadership to the neuroArm team. He earned a B.Sc. degree in Mechanical Engineering from the University of Alberta with additional training in biophysics and biochemistry from the University of Waterloo. Don completed an M.Sc. degree in Mechanical Engineering from the University of Alberta, receiving the R.R. Gilpin Award for research and teaching excellence. He has written a number of papers in the areas of experimental stress analysis and novel sensor technologies, has been a member of, and held leadership positions in ASME, STLE, SEM, ACS and AAS. Don has been married to his very supportive wife Carol for 24 years. Don and Carol have two daughters attending the University of Calgary – Holly (History) and Kedra (Science / Medicine).
Rachael L’Orsa
Rachael L'Orsa
Rachael was born and raised in Smithers, British Columbia. She completed a Bachelor’s degree in Mechanical Engineering as well as a Bachelor’s degree in French and Spanish with a Computer Science Minor at the University of British Columbia’s Okanagan campus. Rachael is currently completing a Master’s degree in Electrical Engineering at the University of Calgary, where she focusses on adaptive control systems for teleoperated surgical robots such as neuroArm. A licensed paramedic, she is deeply interested in the relationships between technology, medicine, and community. She is widely involved in robotics initiatives for children, and is also fond of the outdoors, languages, and rowing on the Glenmore Reservoir in rain, shine, or snow.
Michael Greene
Michael Greene
Michael Greene received his undergraduate degree in Space Engineering at York University and a Masters of Applied Science in Aerospace Engineering at the University of Toronto Institute for Aerospace Studies (UTIAS). During his graduate studies, he worked at the UTIAS Space Flight Laboratory where he developed flight hardware for several currently operational satellites, most notably AISSAT-1 and BRITE. He gained further experience in the fields of aerospace engineering and robotics at MDA on several projects, including the Next Generation Canadarm. Michael is a licensed Professional Engineer, and is currently enrolled in the Doctor of Medicine program at the University of Calgary.
Past Contributors (Listed Alphabetically)
Nicole Blenkin Administrative Assistant
Nicole was born and raised in Grande Prairie, Alberta, and came to the project after completing a Bachelor of Biological Science from the University of Calgary. Having experience in both institutional and fine arts administration and event planning, Nicole completed a number of administrative, strategic and logistical roles with neuroArm. She maintained communications with external groups and stakeholders, balanced the finances and ensured all of the t’s were crossed and the i’s were dotted.
May Choi Undergraduate Student
May completed three research terms with Project neuroArm, beginning as a second year undergraduate. Her research focused on comparing robotic surgical performance of staff neurosurgeons, neurosurgical residents, medical students and video gamers while using the neuroArm training platform. May has since been studying medicine at the University of Alberta and will graduate in 2014.
Tyler Cossetto Undergraduate Student
Tyler was born and raised in Newmarket, Ontario. He joined Project neuroArm as he made a move to Calgary to pursue his Masters in Biomedical Technology (M.B.T) at University of Calgary. Prior to this, Tyler had completed a Bachelor in Biomedical Science from University of Waterloo. His research at Project neuroArm comprised of study on inter-body fusion cages in spinal reconstruction, and human machine interfaces in robotic neurosurgery. At present, Tyler is a first year medical student at Dalhousie University and continues to pursue his research interest at the Brain Repair Centre in Halifax, Nova Scotia.
Alex Greer Robotics Engineer
Born and raised in Ottawa, Ontario, Alex Greer earned a Bachelor of Applied Science in Mechanical Engineering from the University of Waterloo. Following that, Alex went on to earn his Masters in the same discipline, studying numerical modeling for leg trauma predication and injury protection from anti-personnel landmines. He created a human torso model for the prediction of blast trauma to the lungs to help improve personal protective equipment. For the neuroArm project, Alex worked on the development and integration of advanced technologies into the operating room, interfacing with industrial partners and researchers to ensure safety, maintenance and proper incorporation of the technology.
Tomas Hirmer Robotics & Software Engineer
Tomas Hirmer has a bachelor’s degree in electrical engineering from Lakehead University, a Master of Science Degree in Space Studies from the International Space University, and a Diploma in Electronics Engineering Technology in Control Systems from Seneca College. His work at Project neuroArm included surgical simulation, video production and photography, graphic design, and network/website administration. He is currently enrolled in the Doctor of Medicine program at the University of Calgary.
Michael Lang Medical Student
Michael spent one year (2009-2010) working with Project neuroArm studying 3T intraoperative MRI, application of advanced MR sequences and MR-compatible surgical robotics. Since then he completed his medical degree at Ohio State University Medical School and is working towards a career in academic neurosurgery at the Thomas Jefferson University Hospital in Philadelphia, PA, USA.
James Larsson Simulation Engineer
James Larsson, an electrical engineer, was born and raised in Halifax, Nova Scotia and completed an Electrical Engineering Technologist diploma from Nova Scotia Community College. Following his time there, James went on to complete his Electrical Engineering degree with Dalhousie University and the Technical University of Nova Scotia. James has experience in firmware and software applications in the sensor and telecommunications industries. He worked on maintaining the Surgical Simulation Laboratory and developing simulation software in an open source environment for the neuroArm project.
Isabelle Latour Molecular Biologist/ Research Manager
Isabelle worked for Project neuroArm in the capacity of project manager and as a molecular biologist for the joint-venture bimodal nanoparticle project in collaboration with the National Research Council. She moved on from the project in 2008 to become Manager of Chairs and Professorships with the Faculty of Medicine at the University of Calgary. Since then, she has moved to France with her two sons and her husband, Dr. Ed Vigmond.
Deon Louw Project Manager
Dr. Louw was born in South Africa and immigrated to Canada following the completion of his medical degree. After completing his neurosurgical training, he joined Project neuroArm. He contributed to the early development of neuroArm as it progressed from preliminary design review to critical design review. In addition, he was an important contributor to the successful Canada Foundation for Innovation research grant for Project neuroArm.
Paul McBeth Robotics Engineer
Paul McBeth joined Project neuroArm after obtaining his MSc. Engineering degree from the University of British Columbia. He contributed to the project as it progressed through preliminary and critical design reviews. He subsequently moved on to complete his medical degree and general surgery training at the University of Calgary.
Jason Motkoski Medical Student
Jason was born and raised in Edmonton, Alberta, and came to the University of Calgary to complete his Bachelor’s degree in Chemical Engineering with a Biomedical Specialization.  A multiple undergraduate scholarship and award winner, Jason is enrolled in the MD program at the University of Calgary and is due to graduate in 2013. He worked on bioengineering design, pre-clinical device testing and integration of an advanced surgical laser tool for neuroArm. He enjoys travelling and high performance cars, distance running and swimming.
Patti Paulson Business Manager
Patti Paulson was the Business Manager for the Seaman Family MR Research Centre from 2000 to 2006. During her time working on the project, Patti worked in the early fund raising for Project neuroArm and in the development of the initial successful Project neuroArm research grant acquired from Western Economic Diversification, Canada, and the subsequent Canada Foundation for Innovation grant. Patti is currently the Manager, Research, Diagnostic Imaging for Alberta Health Services, Calgary Zone.
Pete Rizun Graduate Student
Pete was the first Project neuroArm PhD student completing his degree in the Department of Physics. His early experiments related to the development of Haptic Forceps. For this he brought to Calgary four engineering students (Dylan Gunn, Brian Cox, Krispin Davies and Edward Wong) from the University of British Columbia. His PhD thesis was entitled, “On the Estimation of Angular Orientation with Microelectromechanical Systems”. He also provided the architectural design of what became the present Project neuroArm research space in the HRIC building, University of Calgary. He currently works in the private sector.
Manar din Samad Graduate Student
Manar completed his M.Sc. in 2011 under the co-supervision of Drs. Garnette Sutherland and Yaoping Hu within the department of Clinical Neurosciences and Electrical and Computer Engineering respectively, at the University of Calgary. His MSc research thesis was based on human psychophysics in the application of robot-assisted surgery. After successfully defending his MSc. Manar is presently pursuing his PhD at Old Dominion University in Norfolk, Virginia, USA. His present research focuses on the study of computer vision techniques to interpret behavior in subjects with cognitive deficits.
Company Creation: neuroArm Surgical Ltd.
Advisory Board
Kent Anderson Calgary Lawyer
Kent Anderson, Q.C. is the Managing Partner of the Calgary office of Miller Thomson and member of the firm’s national executive committee. In addition to his management role, Kent is a business lawyer with over twenty-five years of transaction and litigation experience. He provided legal advice in the development and evolution of neuroArm Surgical Ltd.
Henry Lawrie Calgary Accountant
Henry was born in Calgary and began his professional career with the local accounting firm Henderson, Waines and Anderson. He received his CA in 1960, his FCA in 1979 and his CPA (Texas) in 1980. From 1962 until his retirement in 1997, he worked for Price Waterhouse, Serving in offices in Calgary, Toronto and Dallas. He was the managing partner in Calgary from 1992 to 1997. Following retirement from Price Waterhouse, he was Chief Accountant for the Alberta Securities Commission. He provided mentorship and accounting advice for neurArm Surgical Ltd. After a long and productive life, Henry passed away on November 7, 2009.
Daryl K. “Doc” Seaman Calgary Businessman, Entrepreneur, and Philanthropist
Mr. Doc Seaman was a Calgary businessman, entrepreneur and philanthropist. As the owner of Calgary Flames and active member of various ice hockey commissions, he was elected to the Hockey Hall of Fame in 2010. He was involved in the awarding of the 1988 Olympic Winter Games to Calgary, Alberta, Canada. For his many contributions, in 1993, Doc was appointed to the Office of the Order of Canada. Along with his brothers B.J. and Don Seaman, Doc provided $2 million for the establishment of the Seaman Family MR Research Centre at the Calgary Health Region-University of Calgary. The project led by Dr. Garnette Sutherland went on to set an example of innovation in science and technology with its linkage to community and philanthropy. Doc’s ongoing support through capital, contacts, experience and time, helped University of Calgary become home to neuroArm in 2007. In 2009, the city of Calgary and province of Alberta paid tribute to Doc’s life and his many remarkable contributions.
Michael Tims Calgary Businessman
In the formative period of neuroArm Surgical Ltd., Michael Tims provided business acumen and mentorship to the company. He is presently the Chairman of Peters & Co. Limited, an investment firm specializing in investments in the Canadian oil and gas, oilfield services and energy infrastructure industries. Mike holds a B. Comm. degree (with distinction) from the University of Calgary and an M.B.A. degree from Harvard University. He is a Chartered Business Valuator. Mike has also had extensive involvement with a number of other community, educational and charitable organizations.
Chief Executive Officers
Alykhan Nanji
Alykhan was the acting CEO while neuroArm Surgical Ltd. was in its early phase of development. He is presently a General Internal Medicine specialist with a Masters in Public Health from Harvard and an MBA from Wharton. Alykhan served as the Executive in Residence (Biodevices) with University Technologies International. UTI is the technology commercialization arm of the University of Calgary. Alykhan is a member of the Calgary MD-MBA group.
Michael Raymont
Following company development, Michael Raymont was appointed CEO. Dr. Raymont has B.Sc (Hons) and Ph.D. degrees in chemisty, and was a Killam Scholar. He was the Vice-President, Technology and Industry Support, with the National Research Council of Canada (NRC), and also served as acting president of NRC from 2003 to 2005. While CEO of neuroArm Surgical Ltd., he led the negotiations that resulted in the successful transfer of the neuroArm IP to IMRIS Inc.

Click here to meet the people behind the NeuroArm project.


Collaborators
Department of Clinical Neurosciences, University of Calgary
University of Calgary
Alberta Health Services
IMRIS
MDA
NRC
Awards & Grants
Order of Canada, Office of the Governor General of Canada
Canada Foundation for Innovation
Western Economic Diversification Canada
Alberta Advanced Education and Technology
Reach!
Alberta Innovates: Health Solutions
AsTech Awards
Manning Award
How To Contact Us
1st Floor
Health Research Innovation Centre
3280 Hospital Drive NW
Calgary, AB
T2N 4Z6
neuroarm@ucalgary.ca