Within the scope of his scientific work, Andreas is keenly interested in the interactions between the basal ganglia and the cerebral cortex. Phylogenetically, both originate from the peduncular hypothalamus and form a system optimized in controlling our environment, first and foremost by means of action (e.g., motor output). Hence, Andreas strives to explore network connectivity and causality in this system, the human connectome and its structure-function relationship. As a clinical case of connectomics, he studies effects of deep brain stimulation (DBS) on aberrant circuitries that lead to movement disorders. These interests are often realized by furthering development of the Lead-DBS toolbox, which Andreas envisions as a collaborative platform for the refinement and scientific application of methods to study how DBS interacts with the brain.
When not in the lab, Andreas may be found marveling at the invigorating powers of the coffee machine in the kitchen or hidden in the lab’s cooler eating ice cream. He may (or may not) have played in dubious rock bands with doubtful musical output back in the days, but nonetheless his love for music has lived on until today. Apart from that, Andreas also has a thing for podcasts (he even hosts one himself – it’s called Stimulating Brains!) and the ramblings of Jerome Salinger, whom he credits as his favorite author. Ningfei Li gave him a drone once, which is amazing, but if you see Andy and his drone you better watch out because he has only been crashing into trees with it so far.
Member of the NetStim lab since its early days, Ningfei is also an essential part of the core Lead-DBS development team and concurrently completes his PhD within the lab. Beforehand Ningfei received Bachelor’s and Master’s of Engineering degrees with specializations in Electronics Science and Technology, as well as in Signal and Information Processing at the Northwestern Polytechnical University of Xi’an, China.
In the framework of his PhD project, Ningfei intends to contribute to the improvement of DBS therapy for patients by investigating connectomic DBS targets in Parkinson’s disease (PD), dystonia and obsessive compulsive disorder. More specifically, he aims at generating predictive models of structural connectivity profiles derived from diffusion-weighted magnetic resonance imaging (dMRI) based connectomes and linking these to clinical improvement. Currently, Ningfei has extended his focus toward the comparative study of DBS targeted to the subthalamic nucleus across different diseases.
Understanding the peculiarities of nature itself is Ningfei’s strongest driver for delving into research, and he has always been inspired by Einstein’s speech for Max Planck’s 60th birthday. When he is not busy with two of his favorite things about science, namely contributing to open-source software and teaching others about the nitty-gritties of machine learning and neuroscience, Ningfei attempts to learn Xiao, a Chinese instrument that resembles the flute (less successfully so far – but bravely hanging in there). This go-getter mentality might explain why he scored high on the “Producer Type” according to Adobe’s “Creative Personalities“ – although Ningfei himself is convinced he’d rather fit the description of the “Maker Type”. Ningfei, who has a prolific past as a poet himself, also enjoys reading the literary musings of others. Besides that, he is a creative cook, a gift he likes to share during the lab’s beloved “Waffle Fridays“ tradition.
Simón joined the NetStim lab in September 2019 and, beyond being part of the core development team of Lead-DBS, is pursuing his PhD within the lab. During his Bioengineering studies in Buenos Aires, he got fascinated by the nuts and bolts of image processing, and more specifically, by the potentials of the brain imaging technique of MRI to reveal information about the hidden workings of the brain.
With an aspiration to contribute useful methodology for the scientific advancement of the field of DBS, in his PhD, Simón is currently exploring methods to refine registration tools and to use these methods to build more predictive DBS models.
Besides his love for getting at the bottom of a problem and questioning things, Simón likes to play football and the electric bass. Over time, he discovered that creativity plays a central role for him – from the music he enjoys to the research he pursues, and for all the other aspects of life in between. Someday, Simón hopes to follow his favorite band Snarky Puppy on tour.
Barbara joined the NetStim lab in May 2020 to pursue her PhD as a fellow of the Einstein Center for Neurosciences and the Berlin School of Mind and Brain. She holds a Master of Science in Psychology with a focus on cognition and neurosciences from the University of Vienna, where she investigated associative memory in Alzheimer’s disease as part of her Master’s thesis. Alongside her studies, she received conjoint training in the application of non-invasive neuromodulation approaches (transcranial magnetic stimulation, MRI-guided focused ultrasound) in both healthy participants as well as in patients affected by neurodegenerative disorders.
Barbara’s research interests include symptom-specific connectomic DBS for the treatment of circuitopathies, patient-centered precision neuromodulation, dimensional approaches to neuropsychiatry and comparative studies across disorders. Within the realms of her PhD, Barbara currently aims to model optimal convergent circuit targets for DBS therapy of individual non-motor symptom constellations by tracing structural (dMRI derived) and functional (resting-state fMRI derived) connectivity profiles in Parkinson’s disease (PD) patients. In the near future, she hopes to leverage neuromodulation techniques to prospectively investigate cognitive and emotional functioning in PD, OCD and other neurological or psychiatric disorders.
Besides her passion for unraveling neuroscientific conundrums, Barbara is an art lover and curious adventure enthusiast who adores to explore every nook and cranny in- and outside of Berlin, both cycling and walking. When exhausted from too many discovery trips or treasure hunts at flea markets, she likes to dive into drawing and photography or reading books (mostly in one shot). She also has a quirk of growing uncommon house plant species, combining unconventional ingredients into novel food creations, and loves attending live concerts.
Qiang joined the NetStim team as a PhD student following the completion of his medical Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees, both with a focus on Neurosurgery in the Guangdong province, China. He got fascinated by invasive network stimulation research in movement disorders already while working towards his Master’s degree, where he investigated Parkinson’s disease and levodopa-induced dyskinesias in rat models, conducted microelectrode implantation, as well as basic oscillatory activities analysis.
With a profound desire to translate his research into improving patients’ wellbeing, he presently strives to compare the similarities and differences between patient-specific and normative connectivity profiles seeding from deep brain stimulation electrodes for Parkinson’s disease within his PhD project, primarily by leveraging structural connectivity measures, including MRI and dMRI.
In the hope of his functional neurosurgery skill and scientific work mutually enriching each other in the future, Qiang’s most important mission is to continue informing his research with the help of patient experts-by-experience. He also likes to see research as a means of amplifying scientific advancements in order to make them available to a broader range of affected individuals. When in search for a helping hand or for somebody with whom to share some fun, waffles, and a good cup of original Chinese tea, Qiang is the person you’re looking for!
Leon is a medical student working for his dissertation at the lab.
Ana Sofía Ríos Infante
Ana is a Master’s student in the International Graduate Program Medical Neurosciences and initially joined us in February 2020 for a lab rotation. To our delight, she decided to stay and complete her Master’s thesis within the NetStim lab. Prior to moving to Berlin, Ana completed her Medical Diploma in Mexico followed by a year-long work experience in the Genetic’s clinic of a public hospital.
Eagerly interested in neurodegenerative diseases, Ana strives to explore the effects of neuromodulation as a treatment option for different disorders. In the framework of her Master’s thesis, she is currently validating the WarpDrive tool, which has recently been developed by fellow lab member Simón Oxenford within the Lead-DBS environment. Her goal with this project is to manually improve accuracy of atlas fit at the level of specific brain nuclei (such as the STN or the fornix) across different datasets of Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s disease patients. With regards to everyday life in the NetStim lab, Ana appreciates the relaxed environment and being surrounded by people that are both hard-working and supportive of each other.
Ana, whose favorite brain area is the corpus callosum, also admits to being a heavy coffee addict. In her free time, she likes to explore Berlin with her bike and discover small coffee spots all around the city, so hit her up if you’re looking for a list of the top addresses for Berlin’s most delicious coffee! She also really loves cooking and recently discovered a passion for playing Sudoku.
Bassam, an MD/PhD student in the laboratory of Andrea Kühn, is also affiliated with the NetStim lab via multiple projects since early 2019. He earned a Medical School Diploma earlier on, followed by a Master’s of Science degree in Neurophysiology, both in Baghdad, Iraq. Moreover, he received a 6-months research training in non-invasive brain stimulation at the Università Cattolica del Sacro Cuore in Rome, Italy under the mentorship of Prof. Paolo Maria Rossini as a scholar of the IFCN in 2015/2016.
Bassam is endeavoring to understand remote network effects of DBS and leverage the latter in the development of a personalized medicine approach for DBS outcome in patients. In his PhD, which he pursues as a fellow of the International Graduate Program Medical Neurosciences at Charité Berlin, he thus applies structural and functional connectomic analyses to investigate neuroimaging correlates of DBS effects in movement disorders (besides others, such as psychiatric conditions). Although Bassam came to like programming and figure design already outside the realm of scientific papers, he now exploits these skills in his scientific career. Apart from his research, Bassam has also been involved in teaching (e.g., postgraduate-level classes on neuroanatomy) and supervision of Master’s students.
Bassam’s scientific enthusiasm got inspired already early during childhood by his father (a quantum physicist), who is still his most important driving force for investing himself into science up until today. Moreover, he loves his family and spends most of his non-scientific time with his wife and kids. Bassam also enjoys traveling and listening to contemporary music, especially to movie soundtracks (such as Hans Zimmer). Get in touch with Bassam if you’re a fellow fan of the Globus Pallidus internus, which is his favorite brain region!
Lukas’ scientific interests primarily revolve around brain networks and network stimulation, as well as the application of transcranial direct current stimulation (tDCS) and DBS in clinical contexts and beyond. These interests are also reflected in his current main research project, in which he aims to leverage multifocal tDCS in order to stimulate neuronal networks and investigate their relationship with clinical outcome parameters in patients with Parkinson’s disease. In joining knowledge gained through both his research and clinical activities, Lukas hopes to ultimately improve patients’ outcome by refining stimulation methods and subsequently translating these from bench to bedside.
Something Lukas highly values in research is that there is a continuous learning curve. Moreover, he really appreciates scientific exchange, and finds it essential being immersed within a great team and research environment – all things he likes about the NetStim lab! When Lukas is not in the lab fiddling with electrodes or in the clinical ward seeing patients, one might find him heading out for a cycling tour in and around Berlin or jumping into one of Berlin’s many amazing lakes. Recently, he also rediscovered the beauty of hiking.
Jan is a physician interested in the translational principles of Deep Brain Stimulation. His research is focussing on the local and network effects of DBS in patients with Parkinsons Disease and aims at moving Neuroimaging from bench to bedside to optimize therapeutic strategies in the field. He is enrolled in the MD/PhD program of the Einstein Center for Neurosciences and affiliated with the Lab of Andrea Kühn.