Macquiarie Neuro Surgery & Spine
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Research Team and Scholars

Research Team and Scholars

Macquarie Neurosurgery & Spine’s academic position to spread knowledge is well demonstrated by the number of national and international doctors, including research and surgical fellows, PhD candidates and researchers.

Current Research team

Robert Newport

Research Project On Machine Vision In Neuroimaging, Supervisor: Professor Di Ieva​

Robert Ahadizad Newport is interested in computational applications for medical image analysis. His background is in research and development, both in academia and industry. He co-authored several image-processing patents while working as a software engineer in the United States. His academic background includes a Master of Software Engineering from Carnegie Mellon University and a Master of Research at Macquarie University’s School of Computing. Robert is particularly interested in fractals, for both their usefulness in describing geometric complexity and their beauty in doing so.

Poonam Kumari

Research Project On Cognitive Neurosciences, Supervisor: Professor Di Ieva​

Poonam Kumari is a research scholar at the Department of Macquarie Medical School. She holds an undergraduate degree in Computer Science from India and a Master of Research degree in Cognitive Science from Macquarie University. She is currently doing her PhD in computational neuroscience, medical image processing and artificial intelligence under the supervision of Prof. Antonio Di Ieva. She is working on a computer vision project to study the differences between naïve and expert human’s visual attention.

Mana Alaviuon

Research Project On Arteriovenous Malformations, Supervisor: Professor Stoodley​

Mana Alaviuon is a medical doctor, chiropractor, and PhD candidate. She graduated from a Master of Chiropractic from Macquarie University in 2019 after completing her medical degree in 1999 and two decades of working as a General Practitioner. She researched alternative treatments for back pain for two years. Currently, she is pursuing her PhD in the field of health and medical sciences, working on a potential treatment for arteriovenous malformations (AVM).

As a life-long learner, her goal is to continue in academics and expand her portfolio as a researcher in the medical field. Her hobbies include cooking and swimming, but also reading – including as part of her research projects. Always in and out of the science labs, she loves action and never backs away from a challenge. Mana received a stipend scholarship from Professor Morgan, Emeritus Neurosurgeon at MQN, and his wife.

Dr Eric Suero Molina

Clinical and Computational Neurosurgery Fellow

Dr. Eric Suero Molina is a neurosurgeon and university lecturer at the University Hospital of Münster, Germany. He graduated in Medicine from the Faculty of Medicine of Münster in 2012. He pursued his specialization in neurosurgery at the University Hospital of Münster between 2013 and 2019. He specializes in neuro-oncology and leads the minimally-invasive skull base surgery program at the University Hospital of Münster. His research group studies optical and hyperspectral imaging of brain tumours. He has further expertise in spine surgery. He holds a master’s degree in business administration in international healthcare management from the Frankfurt School of Business and Management.

He is currently pursuing a computational neurosurgery fellowship at the CNS lab at Macquarie University, specializing in machine- and deep-learning algorithms for neurosurgical research questions. At the same time, he is working clinically in the department with a special interest in neurovascular and spine surgery.

Dr Lucinda McRobb ​

Professional Overview​

Dr McRobb joined the Neurosurgery group at the Faculty of Medicine and Health Science lead by Professor Marcus Stoodley in January 2014. She is a scientist with over 20 years of research experience in microbiology, biochemistry, cell biology and vascular biology. She received her PhD from the University of Sydney in 2008 and has held postdoctoral positions at The Heart Research Institute in Sydney and the Centre for Vascular Research (University of NSW).

Areas Of Research Interest

Dr McRobb is interested in understanding the pathogenesis of vascular disease and vascular abnormalities and developing methods to treat them. Her previous studies have investigated the role of androgens (male hormones) in driving atherosclerosis and vascular calcification and the development of small molecule inhibitors for the treatment of vascular restenosis after angioplasty and vascular stent placement. Dr McRobb’s current research studies in the Neurosurgery group aim to develop vascular targeting agents for the treatment of brain arteriovenous malformations (AVMs). This first involves identifying novel and specific molecular targets in gamma-radiated AVMs. Pre-clinical models and proteomic analysis will be used to identify up-regulated proteins expressed on the surface of cells lining the vascular wall after gamma knife surgery.


Dr Sarah Hemley ​

Professional Overview​

Dr Hemley completed her PhD thesis in 2011 and was awarded her PhD in April 2012, receiving the Macquarie University Dean’s Award for Excellence in Graduate Studies. The same year she joined the Macquarie Neurosurgery Team as a Postdoctoral Research Fellow. She has developed a keen interest in neuroscience research, specifically investigating spinal cord cyst formation (syringomyelia) and fluid circulation in the spinal cord. She has contributed to numerous publications related to the pathophysiology of syringomyelia and presented at internationally recognised conferences on the topic.

Dr Carlo Russo​

Professional Overview​

Dr Carlo Russo is Senior Data Scientist at the Joint Research Centre in Ispra, VA (Italy) and Honorary Senior Lecturer at the Computational NeuroSurgery (CNS) Lab at Macquarie University, Sydney. He works on application and development of algorithms for image analysis in the neurosciences using non-linear geometry, including fractal analysis, and deep learning.

He has previously worked as Research Associate at the CNS Lab and for more than 15 years at Humanitas Research Hospital in Rozzano, Milan (Italy), where he developed innovative software and hardware aimed to introduce computer aided automatic diagnosis tools both in research and in clinical workflows. His studies include the application of fractal geometry and artificial intelligence to histopathology and radiology images. He is author and co-author of 31 peer-reviewed articles (h-index 13) and 5 patents.​

Dr Sunil Unnikrishnan​

Professional Overview​

Sunil has a PhD in Biomedical Engineering from the University of Virginia, USA. Before joining Macquarie Neurosurgery, he was a post-doctoral researcher in radiology at the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia. His primary research experience is in preclinical and clinical ultrasound imaging in the context of tumour and cardiovascular imaging. He has also undertaken research in computational and experimental fluid mechanics as applied to physiologic flows.

At MQN, he is working on a variety of projects involving the biomechanics of spinal fusion surgeries, machine learning, and magnetoencephalography in neuromodulation. He is also currently researching the clinical outcomes of neurosurgical procedures such as revision Chiari decompression, bypass for intracranial lesions, lumbar microdiscectomy, and gamma knife radiosurgery for large arteriovenous malformations.


Dr Joel Berliner​

Professional Overview​

Dr Berliner joined the Neurosurgery Research group lead by Professor Stoodley in January 2016. That year, he completed a Master of Research in Clinical Medicine at the Faculty of Medicine, Health and Human Sciences, Macquarie University. He continued to a PhD in 2017 where he investigated the pathological processes leading to syringomyelia after spinal cord injury. Dr Berliner submitted his PhD in 2021 and was awarded the doctoral degree in 2022. Since then, he has been working as a Postdoctoral Research Fellow. He is currently working in clinical research with people who live with Chiari 1 malformation and syringomyelia. He hopes to increase our understanding of these two conditions and improve outcomes for people in the future.

Dr Berliner also works in laboratory research, where he is investigating the affect physiological variables have on the development and progression of syringomyelia.

Current Scholars

Dr Kevin Agyemang ​

Cerebrovascular Fellow​

Dr Kevin Agyemang is a Fellow of the Royal College of Surgeons of England since 2021. He graduated from St Georges University of London, UK, in 2010, and pursued his specialization in neurosurgery at the Institute of Neurological Sciences, Queen Elizabeth University Hospital, Glasgow, UK, between 2013 and 2021. He was awarded his Certificate of Completion of Training in Neurosurgery in 2022 and spent a year as a WFNS (World Federation of Neurosurgical Societies) Cerebrovascular Fellow at the Universidade Federal De São Paulo, in Brazil.

He is currently undertaking a Cerebrovascular fellowship with Macquarie Neurosurgery with a focus on steno-occlusive vasculopathies, complex AVM and aneurysms as well as CSF disorders. Dr Agyemang’s areas of interest are cerebrovascular surgery and Neuro-oncology.

Dr Prashant Kaushal ​

Unaccredited Registrar​

Dr Prashant Kaushal graduated from Weifang Medical University, China, in 2009, then worked as a resident and registrar in Neurosurgery at different hospitals of Nepal. He was a Postgraduate trainee in Surgery between 2016 and 2019 in Tongliao, China, and ongoing PhD in Neurosurgery with Tongji University in Shanghai since 2019. Dr Kaushal is currently an Unaccredited Registrar with Macquarie Neurosurgery, having started in June 2021.

Dr Ayfer Aslan ​

General Fellow ​

Ayfer Aslan is a postgraduate doctor who completed her primary medical education and specialty training in Neurosurgery in Ankara, Turkey in 2010 and 2016, respectively.

Right after she became a neurosurgeon, Ayfer worked as a Consultant Neurosurgeon in Sirnak State Hospital, Turkey (February 2017 – February 2019), in Edremit State Hospital, Turkey (October 2019 – August 2020), in Hitit University Faculty of Medicine, Turkey (August 2020 – June 2023), and lastly in Balikesir Onyedi Eylul University Faculty of Medicine, Turkey (June 2023 to current).

She is currently a General Fellow at Macquarie Neurosurgery & Spine aiming to add more to her knowledge and experience.

Ayfer is particularly keen to learn and teach in different countries because of the many techniques and innovations she can adopt and pass on to future generations. She has already been multiple times in Europe including Switzerland (Zurich University Hospital), the United Kingdom (University Hospital of Wales), and the Netherlands (UMCG) as an observer during her graduate and postgraduate training period.

Previous Researchers

Zhenjun Zhao​

Magda Bolek​

Tom Woodcock​

Abdulla Al Suman​

Vivienne Lee​

Dr Leon Lai​

“Surgical management and advancements in the treatment of brain aneurysms”

Thomas Cusick

Thomas Cusick​


Master of Research in Advanced Medicine (MRes)

Dr Joan O’Donnell​

2010 to 2018​

“Patient functional outcomes and quality of life after surgery for unruptured intracranial aneurysm” – PhD awarded 2018


Dr Sarah Hemley​

2008 to 2011

“Fluid inflow and outflow in syringomyelia” – PhD awarded 2012

Vanessa Sammons​

2009 to 2011

“Vascular targeting for arteriovenous malformations” – Masters awarded 2013

Dr Johnny Wong​

2009 to 2011

“Pathophysiology of syringomyelia” – PhD awarded 2014

Dr Saleh Kashba

Dr Saleh Kashba

2011 to 2013

“Vascular targeting for AVMs” – PhD awarded 2015

Newsha Raoufirad

Newsha Raoufirad

2010 to 2017

“Identifying endothelial changes for vascular targeting for brain AVMs” – PhD awarded 2016

Dr Margaret Simonian

2009 to 2015

“Proteomic changes in arteriovenous malformation endothelium treated with radiation” – PhD awarded 2016

Dr Athieh (Elmira) Najafi

Dr Athieh (Elmira) Najafi

2011 to 2014

“Pathophysiology of syringomyelia” – PhD awarded 2016

Dr Solomon Ugoya

Dr Solomon Ugoya

2013 to 2016

“Endothelial cells in cerebrovascular disorders” – PhD awarded 2017

Jude Amal Raj

Jude Amal Raj

2012 to 2017

“Radiation-induced endothelial changes in AVM model” – PhD awarded 2017

Dr Andrew Gauden

Dr Andrew Gauden

2015 to 2018

“Developing vascular targeting treatments for brain AVMs”

Dr Shinuo Liu

Dr Shinuo Liu

2016 to 2020

“Pathophysiology of syringomyelia”

Dr Sinduja Subramanian

2015 to 2018

“Testing the efficacy of prothrombotic conjugates in radiated endothelial cells”


Dr Joel Berliner

2017 to 2022

“Pathophysiology of syringomyelia”

Dr Fahimeh Faqihi

2018 to 2022

“Radiation-induced markers for vascular targeting”

Dr Laya Jose

Dr Laya Jose

2019 to 2023

“Deep learning for glioma histopathology image classification”

Dr Markus Weidmann

Cerebrovascular Fellow – 2015, 2016

Dr Santhosh George Thomas

Cerebrovascular Fellow – 2014, 2015

Dr Salem Al Dwairy

Spine Fellow – 2014 to 2016

Dr Peter Wilson

Accredited SET Trainee Graduate – 2013

Dr Keryn Davidson

Accredited SET Trainee – 2015

Dr Ravi Dadlani

Neuro-oncology Fellow – 2014

Dr Khalid Alsahli

Neurosurgical Registrar – 2014, 2015

Dr Elmira Najafi

Unaccredited Registrar – 2014 to 2016

Dr Anthony Chau

Neurosurgical Registrar – 2014

Dr Jorn Van Der Veken

Cerebrovascular Fellow – 2018, 2019

Dr Chris Davidoff

Neurosurgical Registrar – 2015 to 2017

Dr Angela Li Ching Ng

Unaccredited Registrar – 2018

Dr Michael Mulcahy

Unaccredited Registrar – 2016

Dr Truc Vu

Complex Spine Fellow – 2018, 2019

Dr John Nerva

Cerebrovascular fellow – 2016, 2017

Dr Renata Ganko

Unaccredited Registrar – 2018 to 2020

Dr Cristian Gragnaniello

Spine fellow – 2012, 2013

Dr Miles McCaffrey

Unaccredited Registrar – 2020

Dr Bryden Dawes

Accredited SET Registrar – 2016

Dr Kaishin Tanaka

Unaccredited Registrar – 2020

Dr Ahmad Badran

Neuro-oncology Surgery Fellow – 2016, 2017

Dr Amer Abu Al Ragheb

Cerebrovascular Fellow – 2019, 2020

Dr Sultan Jarrar

Spine Fellow – 2016, 2017

Dr Santosh Rendu

Unaccredited Registrar – 2020, 2021

Dr Anna Lo Presti

Cerebrovascular Fellow – 2017, 2018

Dr Adina Spiro

Unaccredited Registrar – 2021

Dr Karhik Maharajan

Complex Spine Fellow – 2017, 2018

Dr Miracle Anokwute

General Fellow – 2022

Dr Miikka Korja

Cerebrovascular Fellow – 2013, 2014

Dr Shinuo Liu

Cerebrovascular Fellow – 2021, 2022

Dr Michel Loyoddin

Spine Fellow – 2014, 2015

Dr Lacklan Jackson

Unaccredited Registrar – 2023

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