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.
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
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
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
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
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
Minimal impact surgery is a concept that involves the use of cutting edge surgical techniques and advanced knowledge in surgical anatomy to design a unique and “best” surgical strategy for a particular patient (and lesion), and that aims to an efficient, maximally effective (e.g. extent of ressection, re-vascularization), and safe (protection of eloquent function) therapeutic impact.
A surgical three-pin head holder is critical to recreate patient positioning during our surgical simulations, especially when designing new surgical approaches.
We have a fully equipped endoscopic tower with the latest generation HD camera and recording system.
Our laboratory is equipped with a fully functional surgical table, which allows us to change patient positioning while doing a surgical simulation. This feature has been critical for designing simultaneous combined approaches.
The microscope is a natural extension of the surgeon. We have powerful surgical microscopes in the laboratory that allow us to view complex regions in detail and create high quality dissections.
Fine surgical instruments are the fingertips of great surgeons. Highly specialized surgical instruments allow us to efficiently dissect through complex anatomical regions and sometimes are the difference in reaching beyond apparent limits. This allows to simulate best any surgical maneuver. We have many complete skull base sets and several instruments for cerebral bypass.
A key concept of minimally invasive skull base surgery is to gain access to complex lesions by removing bone and minimizing brain manipulation. In our laboratory we have several highspeed drills and ultrasonic dissectors, which allow us to simulate a real surgical procedure.
The microscope is a natural extension of the surgeon. We have powerful surgical microscopes in the laboratory that allow us to view complex regions in detail and create high quality dissections.
We have a fully equipped endoscopic tower with the latest generation HD camera and recording system. A cutting-edge skull base laboratory must be equipped with an endoscope to research minimally invasive surgical approaches.
Navigation brings the power of stereotactic measurements into the laboratory. Instead of guidance, we use the latest innovation in navigation to obtain stereotactic coordinates. This is the technology we use to prove our hypotheses when comparing surgical trajectories or deﬁning new approaches.
3D is the most powerful tool for both teaching and surgical anatomy research. Our microscopes are coupled with a 3D system that allows us to record stereoscopic (3D) images of all procedures, which we use for both designing new approaches and teaching the next generation of surgeons.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Vera Vigo obtained her M.D. degree at the Catholic University of Rome and she is currently a Senior Resident in Neurosurgery at the Hospital “Fondazione Policlinico A. Gemelli” of Rome. During her first six months at the SBCV lab she was involved in many projects on both endonasal endoscopic approach and open surgery to the anterior skull base.
Currently, her research is based on white matter dissection and posterior circulation of the brain.
Rina Di Bonaventura obtained her M.D. degree at the Catholic University of Rome and she is currently a Senior Resident in Neurosurgery at the Hospital “Fondazione Policlinico A. Gemelli” of Rome. She did a Clinical Fellowship at the “Besta” Hospital in Milan, Italy, regarding brain tumors and a Research Fellowship about skull base tumors at the “Addenbrooke’s Hospital-Cambridge University Hospital”, Cambridge, UK.
Her research at the SBCV lab is, currently, focused on novel techniques to posterior circulation bypass and the using of 3D on neurosurgical practice.
Sheantel Reihl is a Medical Student at UCSF.
Her research at the SBCV lab is focused on new plastination techniques and developing 3D printing for anatomical dissections.
Olivia Kola graduated from University of California, Los Angeles with a bachelors in neuroscience.
Olivia has been actively participating in projects to develop surgical simulation materials and virtual reality for anatomical education and research.
Ashna Khare is a sophomore in high school.
At SBCV lab, she reviews research papers, studies elements of the human brain, and assist on projects that the fellows and other team members are working on.
Dr. Ali Tayebi Meybodi is a neurosurgeon from Iran. After completing his medical and residency training at Tehran University of Medical Sciences, Dr. Tayebi came to the University of California San Francisco.
During his time at the SBCV laboratory, Dr. Tayebi developed many innovative surgical approaches to the skull base for cerebrovascular lesions.
He is currently doing a postdoctoral and research fellowship at the Barrow Neurological Institute, Phoenix.
Pooneh Mokhtari earned a PhD degree in motor behavior from Tehran University in Iran. Throughout her career, she has focused on improving motor learning and control.
During her time at the SBCV laboratory, she developed a project to analyze the motor and cognitive aspects that contribute to the learning curve for microsurgical vascular bypass.
She is currently involved in independent research.
Levent Beker received his undergraduate and master’s degree from the Middle East Technical University, Turkey. He then received his PhD in mechanical engineering from UC Berkeley, focusing on bio-implantable micro-electro-mechanical systems (MEMS).
During his time at the SBCV laboratory, Dr. Beker worked on developing sustainable power sources for neural interfaces.
He is now a postdoctoral researcher at Stanford University studying wearable medical devices.
Dr. Ming Liu is a neurosurgeon and associate professor from the Ningde municipal hospital, China.
While at UCSF, Dr. Ming focused on the clinical anatomy of CPA and the brain stem.
He is currently practicing at Ningde municipal hospital in China.
Yuan Li is a neurosurgeon from the First Affiliated Hospital of Zhengzhou University, China. He did a Postdoc-fellow at Stanford Medical from 2010 to 2012.
As a member of the SBCV laboratory, Dr. Yuan Li’s research focused on exploring the novel surgical approaches for modified STA to ACA anastomosis and identifying landmarks to simplify OA-AICA revascularization.
He is currently an attendant neurosurgeon at the First Affiliated Hospital of Zhengzhou University, China.
Sirin Gandhi completed her medical degree at M.S. Ramaiah Medical College in Bengaluru, India and then did clinical rotations in the department of neurosurgery at Kaiser Permanente, Fresno and Johns Hopkins Hospital, Baltimore. She served as a clinical research fellow at the State University of New York, Buffalo.
While at the SBCV laboratory, Dr. Ghandi’s primary interests were in neuroanatomy, brain tumors, and cerebrovascular lesions.
She is currently doing research at Barrow Neurological Institute, Phoenix.
Muyuan Liu is a head and neck surgeon from the Cancer Hospital of Shantou University Medical College, China. After graduating from Sun Yat-Sen University in 2007, he worked as a Head and Neck Oncology surgeon, and was able to conduct the operation of thyroid tumor, parotid tumor, oral cancer, laryngeal cancer and so on independently.
As a member of the SBCV Laboratory, Dr. Muyuan Liu’s research was focused on the anatomical study of the parapharyngeal space and developing landmarks for early identification of the facial nerve.
Now, he is an associate professor at Cancer Hospital of Shantou University Medical College.
Flavia Dones obtained her MD degree at the “Università degli studi di Palermo”, Palermo, Italy. She did her Residency at “Università degli Study di Napoli Federico II”, Naples, Italy. During her third year of residency, she did a clinical fellowship at the “A. Cardarelli” Hospital in Naples, and at “Niguarda” Hospital in Milan, Italy.
During her Research fellowship at the SBCV lab she was involved in many projects, focusing on the investigation of bypasses for direct revascularization of the posterior cerebral circulation and the comparison between different approaches to such deep and eloquent areas as the pulvinar.
Currently, she is a Neurosurgeon Attendant at “Niguarda Hospital”, Milan, Itlay.
Ruth Lau Rodriguez obtained her MD at the School of Medicine at the Universidad Autonoma of Barcelona. She did her Residency at Bellvitge Hospital in Barcelona, Spain.
Her research at the SBCV lab was focused on novel approaches to the Atrium, Hippocampus, and Amygdala, and combining open surgery with endoscopy-assisted.
She is currently a Neurosurgeon Attendant at the “Hospital Joan XXIII” in Tarragona, Spain.
Sergio Garcia Garcia is a resident of neurosurgery at the Hospital Clinic, Barcelona, Spain. He completed his medical degree in 2012 at the University of Valladolid, Spain.
While at UCSF, Dr. Garcia focused on optimizing surgical routes to paramedian arteriovenous malformations and studying the surgical feasibility of new suggested posterior circulation bypass.
Sofia is an undergraduate student at San Francisco State University.
During her time at the lab, she focused on understanding various neurosurgical approaches used by the fellows to conduct minimally invasive neurosurgeries. She also assists the fellows in various projects.
She is currently working towards her bachelor’s degree while completing a fellowship regarding brain mapping for low grade gliomas.
Halima Tabani obtained her MD degree from Aga Khan University in Pakistan. She undertook an elective in Neurosurgery at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center and at University of Illinois College of Medicine at Peoria.
Currently, she is working on many projects, such as the utility of different three-dimensional imaging modalities in neurosurgical research and education and the Endoscopic Endonasal approach to the Meckel’s Cave. She is also involved in cadaveric dissections at the Lab under.
Mahsa Sedaghati obtained her MD from Tehran University of Medical Sciences in Tehran, Iran. She obtained a master degree in Molecular Medicine and Cancer Research at Brunel University in England, UK.
During her research fellowship, she was involved in many projects, among which the minimally invasive approach to the anterior cranial fossae and anterior circulation.
Aashna Mehta is a sophomore at UC Berkeley majoring in Public Health.
Her research was focused on understanding various neurosurgical approaches used by the doctors at this lab to conduct minimally invasive neurosurgeries. Additionally, she assisted the fellows in various projects when necessary.
Sonia Yousef is a graduate of UC Berkeley’s Haas School of Business, with a Bachelor’s Degree in Business Administration.
During her time at the lab, Sonia assisted fellows with their projects, which involved taking 3D neurosurgical photos, collaborating in the dissection of cadaveric heads for complex surgical techniques, conducting literature reviews for project publications, and editing 3D neurosurgical videos.
She is currently working toward jumpstarting her career in medicine.
Andre is a pre-medical student majoring in neuroscience.
During his time at the lab, Andre collaborated with Dr. Ali Tayebi in multiple studies and projects, such as the researching the anastomosis of the anterior temporal artery and the temporopolar artery, and researching about methods for treating Hereditary Hemorrhagic Telangiectasia.
Andre is currently working toward completing his bachelor’s degree and continuing in his medical education.
José Luis Sanmillán obtained a medical degree in 2009 at the Universitat de València (València, Spain). Afterwards, he moved to Barcelona and coursed the Neurosurgery Residency Program at Hospital Universitari de Bellvitge (Barcelona, Spain) from 2010 to 2015.
The main research performed by Dr Sanmillán at the SBCV Laboratory focused on the analysis, evaluation, and comparison of different skull base approaches for the treatment of neurovascular lesions, with emphasis on the application of arising endoscopic procedures for the treatment of challenging neurovascular lesions.
Currently, he works at Hospital Universitari de Bellvitge (Barcelona, Spain) as skull base neurosurgeon.
Xuequan Feng is a neurosurgeon and associate professor at Tianjin 1st Center Hospital in Tianjin, China. He received his medical degree at Nankai University in 2003. In 2009, he obtained his Ph.D. degree at Tianjin Medical University. Sponsored by China Scholarship Council (CSC) in 2014, he began his work as a visiting scholar and research fellow at the Skull Base and Cerebrovascular Laboratory in UCSF.
During his time at the lab, Dr. Feng was interested in the treatment of neurovascular diseases and conducted research on extracranial to intracranial (EC-IC) bypass techniques, including a novel approach to locate and isolate the internal maxillary artery (IMA) for IMA-M2 highflow bypass, a new technique to harvest the superficial temporal artery (STA) for STA-MCA bypass, and ways to protect the middle meningeal artery (MMA) during craniotomy and its potential bypass usage. He gained a nickname “Leonardo da Vinci” in the lab due to his meticulous anatomical work and beautiful anatomical images.
Xuequan Feng is currently working as a neurosurgeon and associate professor at Tianjin 1st Center Hospital.
After attending Tabriz University of Medical sciences in Iran, Dr. Sadighi was a clinical observer in the department of surgery, Imperial College of Medicine, London. He spent on one year of technical research for developing new neuro-rehabilitation devices for disabled patients with spinal cord lesions and making new concentric needles for EMG study and then worked in research in the Department of Neurosurgery, University of Wisconsin-Madison.
During his time at UCSF, Dr. Sadighi studied the venous system of the brain, focusing on the evaluation of microsurgical anatomy of the tentorial sinuses and related bridging veins and defining practically, reliable, trajectories for safe surgical entry zones through the tentorium.
Dr. Sadighi is currently working as an independent researcher.
Hansen Deng is a second year medical student at University of California, San Francisco. Prior to medical school, he graduated from UC Berkeley with a double major in human biology and studio painting specializing in oil.
He is enthused by the utilization of 3D imaging systems in tandem with state of the art surgical simulations to answer the current practical questions in cerebrovascular and neuro-oncological surgery.
Peyton is a medical student from the University of Arizona College of Medicine. He completed his undergraduate degree at the University of Arizona in 2013 and has since worked in pathology at the university hospital and entered the College of Public Health for a Master’s in Public Health before entering medical school.
Peyton’s interest while at the lab was in understanding if locations of aneurysms in the brain influence patient outcomes and how they might correlate with the different treatment modalities.
Dr. Li Wei is an associate professor from the Ear-Nose-Throat department of the first affiliated hospital of China Medical University. He studied in the otolaryngology department of UCSF as a visiting scholar alongside his fellowship at the SBCVL.
Dr. Li is an expert in the sinonasal endoscopic approach to the skull base and conducted research on the regional anatomy of the internal carotid artery, including the definition of surgical landmarks for safe and efficient exposure of the posterior genu of the petrous internal carotid artery as well as trajectories to protect the V3 branches and the Eustatian tube during the dissection. Adhering to the clinical requirements, Dr. Li described surgical procedures on recognizing the ICA using bony landmarks, and he also explores the variation of the landmarks, such as sphenoid spine of the temporal bone.
Li Wei is currently working at an ENT surgeon at the first affiliated hospital of China Medical University.
Dr. Kaiming Su is an associated otolaryngologist from the ENT department of Jiao-tong University Affiliated 6th Hospital, in Shanghai, China. He graduated from the Department of Ophthalmology & Otolaryngology, Nanjing Medical University with an M.D. degree in 1996. He subsequently received a Ph.D degree from Shanghai Jiaotong University in 2009.
Dr. Su’s projects while at the lab focused on an endoscopic transorbital approach for the decompression of the inner the wall of the optic nerve.
Dr. Xiaoming Guo is a chief physician at the Beijing 304th Hospital in China with more than 20 years of clinical experience.
While at the lab, Dr. Guo studied the middle cranial fossa and cavernous sinus as well as landmarks to protect the cochlea in the Kawase approach.
Dr. Guo is currently working at the Beijing 304th Hospital in China as a neurosurgeon.
Dr. Zhang is a neurosurgeon from North China where he is an Associate Chief Physician in the Department of Neurosurgery at China Rehabilitation Research Center (also known as Beijing Boai Hospital). Ten years ago he obtained his MD-PhD in Neurosurgery from Capital Medical University.
Dr. Zhang is passionate about endoscopic neurosurgery and his research focused on endoscopic transnasal and transorbital approach exploration.
Dr. Zhang is currently working as a skull base neurosurgeon at Beijing Boai Hospital.
Dylan graduated in 2015 from Williams College in Williamstown, Massachusetts, where he majored in Chemistry.
Dylan’s work in the laboratory was directed towards the lab’s educational mission: to provide access to neurosurgical and neuroanatomy educational resources to medical students, residents and patients worldwide.
Dylan is currently a first medical student at Stanford University, Palo Alto.
Simar Singh graduated from the University of California, Berkeley, majoring in Integrative Biology as a Regents and Chancellor’s Scholar.
Her work at the SBCV lab has involved anatomical dissections including the dissection of the facial and auriculotemporal nerves using a surgical microscope. Her background as an accomplished, hyperrealist artist has also allowed her to contribute various illustrations depicting complex anatomical regions and innovative surgical techniques designed by the laboratory.
Simar is currently working as a clinical research coordinator at UCSF.
Dr. Ding received his MD, Ph.D from West China University of Medical Science and completed his postdoctoral training at Tiantan Hospital.
While at UCSF, Dr. Ding researched PICA-PICA bypass treatments for unclippable PICA aneurysms.
He is currently working in the neurosurgical department of Shanxi Province Hospital.
Dr. Guanglong Huang is a Chinese neurosurgeon from Nanfang Hospital, one of the largest tertiary hospitals in southen China. After obtaining an M.D., Ph.D, he found my major interest in neurosurgery specializing in skull base surgery.
His interests while at UCSF included minimally invasive surgical approaches to remove tumors from complex anatomical regions in the skull base using both endoscopic and microscopic anatomical dissection.
He is currently working as a neurosurgeon at Nanfang Hospital.
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.
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.
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.