About CRANIA

CRANIA brings together research, clinical and academic expertise across multiple disciplines, in an environment with broad access to patients in a World-class Center for Research, Development, Application and Commercialization of Neuromodulation Technologies and Interventions in Toronto.

Fully integrated and first-to-clinic for neuromodulation therapies that can positively impact patients in the next 5 years.

OUR MISSION

To accelerate the translation of neuromodulation research to patient solutions that improve brain health and function.

OUR VISION

The potential of every individual’s brain is unlocked for better quality of life.

The Burden of Brain Disorders

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CANADA

Neurological and mental illness disorders directly affect over 10 million Canadians

  • 4 million living with a neurological condition/injury
  • 7 million experience mental illness or addiction in any given year
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THE WORLD

Globally Brain Disorders account for 25% of disease burden
Greater than Heart Disease at 10% and Cancer at 9%

  • 10%  Neurological Disorders
  • 6.5% Mental Health & Addiction
  • 5%  Stroke
  • 3.5% Back & Neck Pain

WHAT IS NEUROMODULATION?

NEUROMODULATION changes brain, spinal cord or nerve function using advanced device(s) that interface with specific areas of the central or peripheral nervous system to reduce symptoms and address underlying disorder(s).

Established Neuromodulation Therapies

functional electrical stimulation therapy

Functional Electrical Stimulation Therapy

Improves voluntary control of upper limbs following stroke and spinal cord injury.

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Deep Brain Stimulation

Reduces motor symptoms of conditions such as Parkinson’s Disease.

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Vagus Nerve Stimulation

Reduces seizure burden by sending pulses of electrical energy to the brain.

Expanding Technologies & Applications

  • Functional Electrical Stimulation (FES)
  • Respiratory Electrical Stimulation (RES)
  • Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation (TMS)
  • Transcutaneous Electrical Nerve Stimulation (TENS)
  • Deep Brain Stimulation (DBS)
  • Gastric Electrical Stimulation (GES)
  • Spinal Cord Stimulation (SCS)
  • Sacral Nerve Stimulation (SNS)
  • Vagus Nerve Stimulation (VNS)

TEAM MEMBERS

View the CRANIA team

CORES

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Devices R&D – Electrodes & Coatings

Leads

A. Guenther (Mechanical and Industry Engineering, University of Toronto)
P. Santerre (Faculty of Dentistry)

Location

University of Toronto, Mechanical and Industrial Engineering, Faculty of Dentistry

Activities

Manufacture electrodes that are fully customizable, biocompatible, collagen-based, with the option of being biodegradable and that minimize magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) artifacts; thus, overcoming limitations of existing electrodes and extending their useful life.

Equipment

Clean room tools for collagen electrode manufacturing and testing: Electrode surface coating development and testing (Laser Cutter, Maskless writer, High vacuum evaporator) and Collagen electrode development and testing equipment

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Devices R&D – Electronics

Leads

R. Genov (Electrical and Computer Engineering Department, University of Toronto)

Location

University of Toronto, Electrical and Computer Engineering Department

Activities

Develop a next generation implantable device that integrates electrodes from Core A with a wireless monitoring and communication system. Brain activity signals and other inputs will be processed and used, in real time, by the device to stimulate the brain (eg, deliver neuromodulation therapy) in a responsive manner via accurately implanted electrodes.

Equipment

Digital components and tools for building circuits and sensors: Wireless Sensor and Stimulator Development, Custom Designed Integrated Circuits, Digital Components, Printed Circuit Board Router, Implantable Sensor Development, Characterization and Validation, Development of Miniaturised Optical Sensors for Diagnostics.

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Neuromodulation Suite

Leads

S. Kalia (Neurosurgery)
T. Krings (Joint Department of Medical Imaging)
G. Zadeh (Neurosurgery)

Location

Toronto Western Hospital – University Health Network

Neurosurgery

Activities

Develop, in collaboration with industry, advanced imaging, electrophysiological measurement and surgical navigation technologies to identify and target specific brain regions associated with disease in grey/white matter with unparalleled accuracy and precision.

Equipment

Low field strength (0.5T) MRI, robotic placement of electrodes, novel registration technologies, surgical\physiological targeting and navigation systems.

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Technology Validation – Animal Models

Leads

L. Zhang (Krembil Research Institute)
J. Zariffa (Toronto Rehabilitation Institute)

Location

Toronto Western Hospital – University Health Network

Activities

Validate technologies from Cores A, B, and C in appropriate animal models. Technologies to be tested include: the wireless communication systems, implantable stimulators, implantable electrodes, connectors, sensors, closed-loop control strategies, coatings and other components of the implantable neuromodulation systems.

Equipment

Animal electrophysiological measurement and stereotaxic surgical systems.

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Application – Closed-loop Capabilities

Leads

R. Wennberg (Neurology)
A. Fasano (Neurology)
C. Marquez Chin (Toronto Rehabilitation Institute)

Location

Toronto Western Hospital, Toronto Western Hospital Movement Disorders Lab, Toronto Rehabilitation Institute REL (Lyndhurst)

Activities

Clinical testing of closed loop algorithms, chips, and stimulation protocols with real time physiological/behavioral/cognitive assessments in healthy individuals and those with neurological conditions (Epilepsy, Parkinsons’s etc). Test bed for the development of closed-loop neuromodulation strategies.

Equipment

Research EMU amplifier system, Real-time gait analysis, EEG assessment systems, Neurological assessment system, Electrical stimulator, Optical kinematic, CRANIA lab renovations.

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High Performance Computing (HPC)

Leads

C. Virtanen (University Health Network)
N. Koudas (University of Toronto)
A. Sheikholeslami (Electrical and Computer Engineering Department, University of Toronto)
S. Hill (Krembil Research Institute)

Location

University Health Network

Activities

Robust HPC infrastructure is required to collect, standardize and perform data analytics.

Additionally, the UHN HPC4Health team will work with CRANIA to facilitate the necessary network interconnects to transfer pre-processed data gathered from sensor streams and other sources to HPC4Health.

Application of Fujitsu’s Digital Annealer to neuromodulation.

Equipment

Computers and software.

COLLABORATIONS

Host Institutions & Main Partners

University Health Network logo
University of Toronto logo

University Health Network & University of Toronto

  • Toronto Rehabilitation Institute, University Health Network
  • Krembil Research Institute, University Health Network
  • Faculty of Applied Science and Engineering, University of Toronto
  • Faculty of Medicine, University of Toronto
  • Faculty of Dentistry, University of Toronto
  • Faculty of Arts and Science, University of Toronto

POWERED BY

  • Canada Foundation For Innovation
Canada Foundation For Innovation logo
  • MRIS: Ministry of Research, Innovation and Science
Ministry of Research, Innovation and Science Ontario, Canada logo
  • The Walter and Maria Schroeder Foundation

Other Sponsors

  • R. Howard Webster Foundation
  • Donald M. Ross
  • The William & Nona Heaslip Foundation
  • The Henry White Kinnear Foundation
  • Anonymous