Brain & Breathing

Members of the Team

Gaspard Montandon, PhD

Team leader

Staff scientist, Unity Health Toronto

Assistant Professor, Department of Medicine

Gaspard Montandon is the team leader of the Brain & Breathing Science laboratory. He likes to design, tinker, and improve technologies allowing great discoveries. When he is not running with his 4 kids, you can find him playing beach volleyball at Ashbridge’s Bay!


gasp.lab@gmail.comResearch GateBiography

Carolina da Silveira Scarpellini, PhD

Research Technician

Carolina is a talented PCR operator and surgery maestro. She is running the lab with an iron fist.

Andreea Furdui

Master student

Andreea’s research focuses on studying the cell types involved in opioid-induced respiratory depression. Outside the lab, she enjoys road trips and curling up with a good book.

Yara Zayed, PhD

Research manager

Yara is the research manager of the Zebrafish Facility. She did her Master’s and PhD degrees in molecular biology using different research models. She has extensive expertise using zebrafish as well as CRISPR-Cas9 and genome-editing tools. She is investigating the mechanisms of action of opioids and performs drug discovery in larval zebrafish. When she is not in the lab, Yara likes to paint, sew and play the piano with her twin daughters. In another life, she would have been a fashion designer.

Kayla Baker

PhD student

Kayla is a PhD student investigating the neural mechanisms regulating opioid-induced respiratory depression. She did her Master degree at Carleton University where she studied the dopaminergic and glutamatergic systems in mice. When she is not studying neuroscience, she is playing field hockey.

Past Members

Wendy Wang

Undergraduate Student

Wendy Wang was an undergraduate student at the University of Toronto. She is currently pursuing a medical school program at the University of Calgary.

Alexandra Ho

Undergraduate Student

Alexandra was an undergraduate student interesting in research and graphic design. She is now doing a program in biomedical graphic design at the University of Toronto.

Vivian Biancardi, PhD

Visiting Posdoctoral fellow

Vivan is a postdoctoral fellow from the University of Alberta and was visiting our lab in a collaboration with Dr. Greg Funk.

Lauren Levy

Undergraduate student

Lauren is a third year neuroscience student at the University of Toronto. When she’s not in the lab or studying, she can be found training for UC Dragon Boat or involved with the Neuroscience Association of Undergraduate Students. She also likes biking. She’s from Hawai’i and still adjusting to having seasons.

Samantha Mahabir, PhD

Postdoctoral fellow

Samantha is our fish expert and she knows all the tackles and baits to perform outstanding fishing experiments

Jamil Danaf

Master student

Jamil is a second year master’s student at the University of Toronto. Outside of the lab, he enjoys playing basketball and hiking.

Shenhab Zaig

Master student

Shenhab’s research focuses on using zebrafish models for understanding opioid-induced respiratory depression and to find safe opioid pain therapies. Outside of the lab, she enjoys hiking, climbing and binge watching TV shows. Her favourite animals are birds and if she could have a superpower she would teleport.

Dhuvaraha Srikrishnaraj

Undergraduate student

Dhuvaraha is a fourth year neuroscience and physiology student at the University of Toronto. During her free time, you can find her painting or sketching people.

Natalka Parzei

Master student

Natalka’s research focuses on the use of chemogenetics to counteract opioid-induced respiratory depression. Outside of the lab, she enjoys travelling, yoga, and game nights. If she wasn’t pursuing a career in science, she would be a baker.

Jean-Philippe Rousseau, PhD

Post-doctoral fellow

Jean-Philippe is a postdoctoral fellow who joined our team with a strong background in the neural control of breathing. Supported by a CIHR fellowship, his research focuses on alleviating respiratory depression by opioids through targeted optogenetics stimulation. When he’s not working at the laboratory, you will find him spending quality time with his family or spiking volleyballs on the court.

Xiaowei Vivianne Gao

PhD student

Vivianne is a visiting graduate students from the Xiangya Hospital of Central South University. She is investigating the mechanisms of anesthesia for her doctoral degree. She is currently working on identifying new analgesics and anesthetics using larval zebrafish.