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Skull Base & Cerebrovascular Laboratory

A Place for Neurosurgical Technology and Neuroanatomical Development

Ranked Top 5 In The Country


#1 on the West Coast


The UCSF Neurosurgery Department is the #1 in the nation in research excellence

Welcome to San Francisco


The Skull Base and Cerebrovascular Laboratory (SBCVL) at the University of California San Francisco is a crucible where passion, creativity, and knowledge are amalgated. We promote camaraderie and gather a multidisciplinary team of international research fellows to produce ground-breaking publications in stereoscopic and volumetric neuroanatomy.  

The practical use of current and future technologies developed in our laboratory for surgical simulation allow us to bridge the gaps in translational neuroanatomical research: today’s projects, tomorrow’s surgical solutions.

We, the SBCVL team, would like to express our deep gratitude to the people who have selflessly contributed to the study of human surgical anatomy in the fields of  Neurosurgery and Otorhinolaryngology. Your support constantly inspires us to strive excellence in our research and educational missions. Welcome to the Skull Base and Cerebrovascular Laboratory.

Roberto Rodriguez Rubio, MD
Director, Skull Base & Cerebrovascular Laboratory

Neurosurgery for all – “Doing more with Less”

We believe that it’s our privilege to have the resources that we have available, and believe in using it for the greater good; our goal is to  make the knowledge that we uncover and the technology that we develop to be available for all

Anatomical Education

Our goal is to provide widespread and easily accessible anatomical education worldwide; we plan to achieve it through our publications and the educational technology that we develop and also through collaborations and international missions like Mission Brain

A “laboratory beyond the laboratory”

For each publication that we share with the neurosurgical community or for each fellow that we train, we aim to create a laboratory beyond the facility that we have here at UCSF SBCVL – our ultimate goal is to have the neuroanatomical knowledge be readily available to every person who is seeking it

Ambassadors to Create Leaders

Our international fellows are trained to their back to their home institutions and countries, helping create a strong network to disseminate neurosurgical education and advancement worldwide


Our vision is to push the boundaries of surgical innovation to promote the advancement of neurosurgical techniques and contribute towards technological advancement in the ever-evolving  field of Neurosurgery

  • Minimally Invasive Neurosurgery

  • Innovation

  • Technological Advancement


The Diversity in the SBCVL Enriches the Experience of Our Fellows

Interact with Our 3D Map to See the Country of Origin of Our Team Members



the laboratory




The Skull Base & Cerebrovascular laboratory is home to neurosurgeons and otolaryngologists who have consistently pushed the envelope to refine open surgery techniques and minimize its impact. At UCSF, we have a tradition of clinical excellence in the fields of skull base, neuro-oncology and cerebrovascular surgery. Our diverse surgical experience provides us with the perfect combination of high case volume and high case complexity, which challenges us to innovate, explore, and apply our ideas to advance Neurosurgery.

Dr. Rodriguez is the director and principal investigator of the laboratory. He is a Neurosurgeon with particular skills in neurovascular, white matter and skull base neuroanatomy. He is trained in creating 3D anatomical volumetric models and virtual neurosurgical simulations. Dr. Rodriguez Rubio oversees the activity of the laboratory and coaches the research fellows.

Roberto Rodriguez Rubio, MD
Assistant Professor, Departments of Neurosurgery and Otolaryngology University of California San Francisco

Dr. Abla is a co-dierector of the laboratory. He is a vascular and endovascular neurosurgeon, he specializes in the treatment of brain aneurysms, arteriovenous malformations and fistulae (AVM and AVF), cavernous malformations, stroke, and carotid artery disease.  He is involved in clinical and laboratory research of cerebrovascular diseases. He oversees the cerebrovascular research projects of the laboratory.

Adib A Abla, MD 
Professor and Chief of Vascular Neurosurgery, Department of Neurosurgery University of California San Francisco


Dr. El-Sayed is co-director of the laboratory. He is the Co-Director of the UCSF Center for Minimally Invasive Skull Base Surgery and a recognized and respected skull base surgeon. He is fellowship trained in Head and Neck Oncologic Surgery. Dr. El-Sayed is a senior faculty member and oversees endoscopic endonasal skull base research projects of the laboratory.

Ivan El-Sayed, MD
Professor of the Department of Otolaryngology and Head & Neck surgery University of California San Francisco

Dr. Berger is co-director of the laboratory. He is a renowned expert in the surgical treatment of intra-axial brain tumors and a major contributor to the clinical treatment and basic research of brain cancer. Dr. Berger is a senior faculty member and oversees the intra-axial tumor surgical research projects of the laboratory.

Mitchel S Berger, MD
Chairman and Professor, Department of Neurosurgery University of California San Francisco

Dr. Theodosopoulos is co-director of the laboratory. He is a respected skull base surgeon with extensive experience in surgical anatomy and minimally invasive research. Dr. Theodosopoulos is a senior faculty member and oversees skull base research projects of the laboratory.

Philip Theodosopoulos, MD
Professor and Vice-Chair, Department of Neurosurgery University of California San Francisco

Laboratory collaborators

The skull base & cerebrovascular laboratory has active collaborations for inter-institutional, multi-center research in minimal impact Neurosurgery.

Dr. Lawton is a former co-director. He is an expert in the surgical treatment of cerebrovascular lesions and has written authoritative reports on cerebrovascular surgery. Dr. Lawton is a senior faculty member at UCSF.

Michael T Lawton, MD
President and CEO
Professor and Chair, Department of Neurosurgery, Barrow Neurological Institute
Chief, Neurovascular Surgery, Barrow Neurological Institute
Professor, Department of Neurosurgery University of California San Francisco

Dr. Benet is the former director of the laboratory. He is an expert in surgical research, 3D photography, surgical simulation, minimal impact neurosurgical research, and neurosurgical anatomy.

Arnau Benet, MD
Neurosurgery Resident, Barrow Neurological Institute
Former Assistant Professor, Departments of Neurosurgery and Otolaryngology University of California San Francisco

Mr. Probst is the Medical Illustrator at the Department of Neurosurgery. He has collaborated with the editing of many books and publications. He is involved with the graphic aspects of many projects and provides beautiful illustrations to enrich our works.

Kenneth Xavier Probst
Assistant Professor, Departments of Neurosurgery University of California San Francisco

Mr. McElroy is a senior embalmer and laboratory technician at the UCSF’s Willed Body Program. His outstanding embalming skills and creativity are pivotal to the development of cutting edge surgical simulation procedures and critical to the final quality of our dissections. Mr. McElroy has implemented successfully our novel embalming procedure for neurosurgical simulation in a large amount of cadavers and is currently developing a grading system to anticipate the quality of the specimens before dissection.

Karl McElroy
Senior technician, UCSF’s Willed Body Program, CA, US

Academic Support Team

The following are very talented professionals of our team, who provide essential support to faculty and research fellows and are responsible for our continued success.

Erica Helms is our HR coordinator who helps the fellows to complete all the required paperwork and documentation. She also facilitates the visa process in coordination with the ISSO.

Erica Helms
HR Liasion, Department of Neurosurgery, University of California San Francisco

“A surgeon who does not know his anatomy is like a blind man carving a log”

Guy de Chauliac

Present Fellows

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Vera Vigo

2017 - Present learn more

Rina Di Bonaventura

2017 - Present learn more


Sheantel Reihl

learn more

Olivia Kola

learn more

Ashna Khare

learn more

Former Members

Ali Tayebi Meybodi

2014-2017 learn more

Pooneh Mokhtari

2016-2017 learn more

Levent Beker

2015-2017 learn more

Lui Ming

2016-2017 learn more

Yuan Li

2016-2017 learn more

Sirin Gandhi

2016-2017 learn more

Muyuan Liu

2016-2017 learn more

Flavia Dones

2017 learn more

Ruth Lau Rodriguez

2017 learn more

Sergio Garcia Garcia

2017 learn more

Sofia Kakaizada

2016-2017 learn more

Halima Tabani

2016-2017 learn more

Mahsa Sedaghati

2017 learn more

Aashna Mehta

2017-2018 learn more

Sonia Yousef

2016-2017 learn more

Andre Payman

2016-2017 learn more

Jose Luis Sanmillan

2015 learn more

Xuequan Feng

2014 - 2015 learn more

Alireza Sadighi

2014 - 2015 learn more

Hansen Deng

learn more

Peyton Nisson

2016 learn more

Li Wei

2014 - 2015 learn more

Kaiming Su

2015 - 2016 learn more

Xiaoming Guo

2015 - 2016 learn more

Xin Zhang

2015 - 2016 learn more

Dylan Griswold

2015 - 2016 learn more

Simar Singh

2014 - 2015 learn more

Xinming Ding

2015-2016 learn more

Guanglong Huang

2015-2016 learn more

Outstanding Fellowship Awards

“Xuequan Feng MD, PhD was awarded the 2015 outstanding fellow award”

“Xin Zhang MD, PhD was awarded the 2016 outstanding fellow award”

“Ali Tayebi Meybodi, MD was awarded the 2017 outstanding fellow award”

Daily life at the laboratory

Visit the Skull Base and Cerebrovascular Laboratory social network on  Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter,  to see what’s up with the Fellows daily life!

Daily life at the lab

Role of research fellow

The engine of the Skull Base & Cerebrovascular laboratory is our team. A combination of innovation, knowledge, passion, new technologies, and team collaboration makes this place unique. Here, the Research Fellow will improve his/her anatomical knowledge and explore new surgical approaches and techniques, thanks to the optimal environment. Moreover, the Fellow will learn how to combine and translate his/her research effort into new technologies to spread our knowledge all around the world.

This application is very competitive; the time from application to starting the fellowship with us (considering Visa process) may take months or years.


How to Apply

The following are some of the most important factors we consider during applicant selection:


Letter of intent. Background of the applicant in both surgery and surgical anatomy (with specific examples). Personal motivations and career goals. Commitment to hard work.


English Proficiency & familiarity of the international anatomical nomenclature.


Curriculum Vitae with special emphasis to official training, publications and creativity.


Project proposal. Proposal of an area of study, innovative idea and relevance of the project in the field.

Professional profile of the applicants for the minimal impact Neurosurgery fellowship position

The research position in our laboratory will be offered to a highly qualified neurosurgeon with expertise in the field of surgical anatomy who is preferably experienced with research in the field of cerebrovascular and skull base surgery. Applicants with interest and knowledge of stereoscopy (3D photography, videos, VR), will increase efficiency during the laboratory time.

A committee formed by Dr. Rodriguez Rubio, Dr. Abla and Dr. Berger will ensure a fair selection process.

Duties of the fellow

The fellow will be required to fulfill the following duties:


The fellow will commit to a relevant research topic consisting of sequential projects of progressive scientific complexity. The research topic will be designed to finally cover a specific research area in the field of cerebrovascular and or neuro-oncological surgical anatomy with the aim of answering pivotal current questions or limitations in the field.


The progress of the projects and the performance of the fellow will be presented to the laboratory director during laboratory meetings.


The end product of the fellows who work in the laboratory will include publication of the research findings in renowned peer-reviewed journals in the field.


Preparation of specimens for surgical simulation as defined in the research projects.


Mastering the techniques for Stereoscopy (3D photography, 3D video, 3D scanning and printing, VR) of anatomical dissections that are used for illustrative purposes in submitted research manuscripts to peer reviewed journals and national and international educational events.


Actively participate in teaching new fellows that engage in research projects in the lab approved by the laboratory. This includes teaching techniques of stereoscopy for illustrative anatomical dissections.


Elaboration of an Internet-based resource to share the educational resources of the laboratory to the neurosurgical community.


Help develop a series of 3D neurosurgical anatomy video-lectures taught by our faculty and prepare them for worldwide divulgation.

  • Step 01Letter of intent
  • Step 02Upload your CV
  • Step 03Proof of English
  • Step 04Project
  • Step 05Submit



Letter of intent

Upload your CV


Proof of English



By clicking the submit button you confirm and provide written assurance that the information included in this application is accurate to the best of your knowledge. Falsified documents will lead to permanent disqualification from the application process. You authorize sharing the application package to the SBCVL. You consent to be contacted back for further interaction and a possible interview request. You will not legally process the UCSF’s SBCVL under any terms related to the submitted application. While we guarantee we will review your application, please understand that we receive multiple applications and the time of response may be variable. You may send update requests through the contact panel of this website if we have not contacted you within 2 months of submission. Only one application may be sent by each applicant.