People

Reza Abbasi-Asl

Principal Investigator

Reza is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Neurology and the Department of Bioengineering and Therapeutic Sciences at UCSF. He is a core faculty member at the UCSF Neuroscape Center, a Weill Neurohub Investigator, and the Director of Data Analytics at the UCSF Weill Institute for Neuroscience. He is a core member of the UC Berkeley/UCSF Bioengineering and Computational Precision Health graduate programs and the UCSF Bioinformatics graduate program. Before joining UCSF, Reza was a scientist at the Allen Institute for Brain Science in Seattle. He completed his PhD and MSc in Electrical Engineering and Computer Sciences at UC Berkeley in 2018, where he developed interpretable machine learning tools with applications in computational neuroscience. Reza received his MSc in Biomedical Engineering from Sharif University of Technology in 2013 and BSc in Electrical Engineering from Amirkabir University of Technology (Tehran Polytechnic) in 2010. He is the recipient of the 2023 Kunal Patel Catalyst Award, New Frontiers Research Award from the Sandler Program for Breakthrough Biomedical Research (PBBR) in 2021, and 2022, and the Eli Jury Award from UC Berkeley, Department of Electrical Engineering and Computer Sciences in 2018.


Arefeh Sherafati

Postdoctoral scholar

Arefeh is a postdoctoral scholar at the Abbasi Lab working on computational methods for integrating structural and functional data in the mouse primary visual cortex. Her research will include the use of machine learning and deep learning to identify spatially-selective and motion-selective neurons in the V1 area. Arefeh got her PhD from Washington University in St. Louis in physics. Her Ph.D. focused on denoising and signal processing methods for high-density diffuse optical tomography (HD-DOT). After that, she worked as a postdoctoral research associate at the Biophotonics Research Center at Washington University School of Medicine. She is currently developing computational models for fMRI and HD-DOT data to find the neural correlates of the impacts of brain implants such as cochlear implants in speech processing or deep brain stimulators in Parkinson’s disease or essential tremor during resting state.


Patrick Xian

Postdoctoral Scholar

Patrick is a postdoctoral scholar at the Abbasi Lab. His main interests are scientific machine learning, which bridges the gap between theories and experiments through computational models, and imaging informatics. His background is in statistics, chemical physics, and quantum information. He conducted his PhD research at the Max Planck Institute, University of Toronto, and University of Hamburg to understand molecular dynamics at the fundamental spatiotemporal scale. During the Covid pandemic, he worked at Northwestern University and University College London on X-ray imaging of brains and lungs. Prior to joining UCSF, he has developed and used machine learning models for spatial and network data in different scientific contexts. Besides research, he likes traveling and visiting museums.


Maryam Bijanzadeh

Assistant Professional Researcher, Neuroscape

Maryam is an Assistant Professional Researcher in our team and a core member of the Neuroscape Center at UCSF. Her research focus is to examine how emotional and affective behavior is encoded in the brain and body using multidimensional neuro- and physiological readouts. Prior to joining the team, she worked as a Machine Learning Scientist at iRhythm Technologies, where she developed ML models to automatically detect cardiac arrhythmias. During her Postdoctoral training in the Chang lab at UCSF (2017-2021), she spearheaded a project focused on understanding neural markers of naturalistic affective behaviors using large neurophysiological datasets sampled from more than 100 sensors across multiple brain regions of consented patients. She also led a collaboration between different laboratories at UCSF in designing a battery of tasks to study neural and physiological mechanisms underlying emotional experiences in patients with epilepsy. She completed her PhD in Neuroscience at the University of Utah where she used laminar electrode arrays in non-human primates to understand how global and local sensory information is processed across layers of the visual cortex.


Gavin Cui

PhD Candidate, Bioengineering

Gavin is a PhD student in the UC Berkeley-UCSF joint Bioengineering program. His project in the lab is focused on building computational platforms to analyze imaging and genomics data in Multiple Sclerosis. Before joining to the program, Gavin was an undergraduate researcher at McGill University, where he generated MRI-based simulations of transcranial Direct Current Stimulation. Gavin’s background in Neuroscience and Medical Imaging prompts him to explore projects that apply machine learning methods for predicting neurological disorder prognosis.


Maria Olaru

PhD Candidate, Neuroscience

Maria is a PhD candidate in the UCSF Neuroscience program working with time-series data from neural implants, iEEG, and wearable sensors jointly advised by Reza and Phil Starr. Currently, she is developing neuro-electrophysiological predictive algorithms for continuous symptom measures in patients with Parkinson’s Disease that are physiologically interpretable. She is also developing closed-loop deep brain stimulation algorithms using direct EEG signal feedback that update patient stimulation parameters to alleviate symptoms and adverse stimulation-related effects. Prior to starting her PhD, she worked in the Neuroradiology Department at UCSF under the supervision of Dr. Leo Sugrue. During this time, she designed a neuroimaging framework that allows for real-time quantification of language hemisphere localization for surgical patients to guide resection procedures and developed lab-wide statistical tools for biological and behavioral data. In her spare time, she enjoys running long distances, climbing outdoors, and reading comprehensive documentation.


Alex Lee

PhD Candidate, Bioinformatics

Alex is a PhD student in the UCSF BMI program. He is interested in interpretable machine learning and is currently working on developing models for multimodal data integration and pattern identification in molecular imaging data. Previously, Alex worked as a research assistant in the Seeley lab at UCSF and at Vivani Medical. Outside of research, he enjoys cooking and then eating.


Kara Presbrey

PhD Candidate, Neuroscience

Kara is a PhD student in the UCSF Neuroscience program jointly advised by Reza Abbasi-Asl, Doris Wang and Phil Starr. Kara studies the neural representation of sequential movement in Parkinson’s Disease – assessing how the cortico-basal ganglia circuit implements ongoing sequential movements across phases of learning, extracting biomarkers of consolidation during sleep that promote performance improvements, and evaluating the effect of levodopa and deep brain stimulation on these processes.


Russell Ro

PhD Student, Bioengineering

Russell is a PhD student in the UC Berkeley-UCSF Joint Bioengineering program. He is interested in time-series analysis, dynamics and control, and healthcare decision-making systems. Prior to starting his graduate studies, Russell graduated from UC San Diego where he studied the neural plasticity mechanisms underlying stroke recovery. He also worked as an engineer at Novartis where he designed tissue culture and assay systems for drug discovery applications. In his free time, you may find Russell bricking mid-rangers in pickup, talking too much about economics without knowing much about economics, or drinking obscene amounts of boba.


Max Collard

MD/PhD Student, Neuroscience

Max is an MD/PhD student in the Neuroscience program at UCSF. Max studies information processing in the astrocyte network, and how this interacts with and shapes neuronal computation. His broader research interest focuses on using category theory to describe world models in cognition, psychoanalysis, and machine learning. Max’s clinical goal is to develop new ways to durably alleviate suffering and promote flourishing by giving folks a greater agency to change their world models.



Daniel Deng

Undergraduate researcher

Daniel is an undergraduate student studying Computer Science and Molecular and Cellular Biology at UC Berkeley. At the Abbasi Lab, he is interested in using signal processing and interpretable machine learning to advance our understanding of neurodegenerative diseases. His current project is on computer vision-aided assessment of Parkinson’s disease motor symptoms. Before joining the Abbasi Lab, he was a research assistant at the Cardiac Vision Lab at UCSF, where he worked on numerical simulation and predictive modeling of cardiac dynamics. In his free time, he enjoys cooking and oil painting.



Former core members


Rob Cahill, Research Specialist
Currently: Co-Founder and President at Junevity

Neelroop Parikshak, Neurology Resident
Currently: Associate Director, Neurology, Therapeutic Area Genetics at Regeneron

Roozbeh Farhoodi, Postdoctoral scholar
Currently: Software Engineer, Google

Jennifer Townsend, Research Data Scientist
Currently: Research Scientist at Vu Lab (UCSF)

Vincent Wang, Research Specialist



Former undergraduate researchers


Shiladitya Dutta

Austin Jang

Gaurav Ghosal

Zeyu Yun

Chirag Sharma

Meera Mehta

Anmol Parande

Franklin Heng

Ahyeon Hwang

Kevin Chen

Arbaaz Muslim

Rohan Divate



Join us!

We have several openings for post-docs, graduate and undergraduate students and software developers. Contact Reza directly at Reza.AbbasiAsl@ucsf.edu to learn more!