Principal Investigator


Dr. Sylvia Villeneuve
Dr. Villeneuve is an Assistant Professor at McGill University in the department of Psychiatry, and a member of the Integrated Program in Neuroscience. She is also an associated member of the Neurology and Neurosurgery department, within the faculty of medicine. She holds the Canada Research Chair for Early Detection of Alzheimer’s disease. She is a member of the PREVENT-AD program and an associated member of the McGill Centre for Studies in Aging at the Douglas Mental Health University Institute of McGill University.Read More

Dr. Villeneuve did a first postdoctoral fellowship under the supervision of Professor William Jagust at the Helen Wills Neuroscience Institute, University of California Berkeley. A central focus of her research was to examine the interplay between beta-amyloid deposition, vascular diseases, and cognition in the preclinical phase of Alzheimer’s disease. Dr. Villeneuve did a second postdoctoral fellowship at Northwestern University under the supervision of Professor Todd Parrish and in collaboration with the Cognitive Neurology and Alzheimer’s Disease Center. This second training involved the proposing of a multimodal MR-based imaging battery to determine the predictive value of neurovascular insults, such as deterioration of the blood-brain barrier or reduced cerebral vascular reactivity, to detect early changes associated with amyloid pathology. Dr. Villeneuve received her PhD  at the Université de Montréal under the supervision of Professor Sylvie Belleville and has been a member of the Ordre des Psychologues du Québec since 2009.

Dr. Sylvia Villeneuve’s work is currently supported by the Canadian Institutes of Health Research.

Contact: villeneuve.sylvia(/at/)
PubMedGoogle ScholarResearchGate


Postdoctoral Researchers

Julie Gonneaud
After getting her neuropsychologist certification at the University of Savoie (France), Julie completed a PhD at the University of Caen-Normandy, under the supervision of Dr Beatrice Desgranges, where she studied the cognitive and cerebral substrates of prospective memory using fMRI and virtual reality. Then, she did a postdoc under the supervision of Dr Gaël Chételat (University of Caen-Normandy), where she became interested in multimodal neuroimaging of Alzheimer Disease, focusing more particularly on the biomarkers changes associated with genetic risk factors. Her postdoctoral project in the Villeneuve Lab  focuses on the detection of early biomarkers changes in asymptomatic individuals with a familial risk of Alzheimer’s Disease. When not in the lab, she likes cooking, going to cinema, concerts and discovering new places.
Contact: julie.gonneaud(/at/)

Graduate Students

AlexaAlexa Pichet Binette
Alexa is a PhD candidate in the Integrated Program in Neuroscience at McGill University since September 2015. She did her master in medical neurosciences at the Charité, Berlin. Employing multimodal neuroimaging, her project aims to examine links between Alzheimer’s disease risk and protective factors, brain integrity and cognition.  When not in the lab, she likes cooking, discovering new places in the city, and trying to keep learning German!

Contact: apichetbinette(/at/)
CV  | PubFacts


Pierre-François Meyer
Pierre has been a PhD student in McGill’s Integrated Program in Neuroscience since September 2015 under the supervision of Dr. John Breitner, co-supervised by Dr. Villeneuve. After getting his BSc in Biology from UJF Grenoble in France, he  received a MSc degree focused on Clinical Neuroscience from University College London. His project aims to understand the role of inflammatory mechanisms in the pathogenesis of AD. By combining CSF and multimodal brain imaging measures, he wishes to investigate wether different inflammatory profiles may lead to subsequent differences in cognitive decline and symptom onset. In his spare time, he likes to travel, explore new places but also play and watch as much soccer as possible.

Contact: pierre-francois.meyer(/at/)


Master’s Students 

Melissa McSweeney

Melissa received her B.A. in Cognitive Science from Northwestern University in 2015. Following graduation, she worked as a research assistant in Dr. Joel Voss’s laboratory at Northwestern for one year. Here, she worked on a research project investigating transcranial magnetic stimulation and human memory. She also volunteered in Northwestern’s Cognitive Neurology and Alzheimer’s Disease Center and explored neuropsychological predictive measures of dementia. Additionally, she worked as a live-in caregiver for an older adult with Alzheimer’s disease prior to her matriculation to McGill. For her master’s thesis, she will be researching the roles of sleep and cognitive fluctuations in Alzheimer’s disease. In her free time, Melissa enjoys designing sets for theatre, swimming, and hiking.

Visiting Scholars

jacob1Jacob Vogel
Jake is a PhD candidate in the Integrated Program in Neuroscience at McGill University. He did 3 years in Berkeley managing Dr. Jagust’s lab and investigating subtle links between cognition and brain pathology in normally aging individuals. Jake is excited by many different flavors of neuroimaging. When not nerding out, you can find him playing music, climbing, and enjoying the finer things in life Montreal has to offer.

CV  | ResearchGate



etienneEtienne Vachon-Presseau
Etienne completed his PhD under the supervision of Pierre Rainville at the University of Montreal where he studied the impact of stress on acute and chronic pain. These studies showed that hippocampal volume may predispose individuals to develop a maladaptive stress response when facing persistent pain and the neural mechanism mediating stress induced analgesia.


Contact: etienne.vachon.presseau(/at/)
CV  | ResearchGate | Google Scholar

Project Management

Christophe Bedetti
Christophe obtained his master degree in neurosciences in Lyon (France) in 2006. He is currently a research assistant working on different modalities in neuroimaging like diffusion MRI, cortical thickness, and PET imaging. Right now, he focuses his efforts on automation of data processing. Outside the lab, he enjoys learning new things about space. You could also find him snowboarding or hiking mountains around Montreal.

Contact: christophe.bedetti(/at/)


Hazal Ozlen
Hazal recently received her undergraduate (B.A., Psychology) degree from McGill University. She will be working on neuropsychological evaluations with the participants and also the administrative tasks in the lab. In her free time outside of the lab, Hazal likes to do yoga, painting, and spending as much time as she can outside enjoying the good weather.




Leslie-Ann Daoust
Leslie-Ann Daoust is a nurse who did her studies at Cégep Édouard-Montpetit Longueil. She graduated in May 2016. She is firstly working with the Stop-Alzheimer’s team to receive participants for the lumbar puncture and for annual follow-ups. She’s also the one who will introduce the participants to our new studies including the PET SCAN. When she’s not working, Leslie likes to do yoga, singing, snowboarding and try different kinds of activities in nature.



Sangitha Jeyaseelan
Sangitha is an undergraduate student at McGill University. She is in the lab to learn as much as she can about neuroimaging techniques and to do a small project on the amyloid presence in the CSF and localization in the brain. In her spare time, she enjoys hiking, reading and running around Montreal.




Michael Smilovitch

Michael recently finished his Undergrad at McGill University, obtaining a BASc in Cognitive Science. He is responsible for the construction and maintenance of the lab website (that you are currently on), along with the online research platform. He hopes to soon learn a thing or two about neuroimaging as well. Michael spends his spare time writing short stories and poetry, and performing around Montreal with his band.

Contact: michael.smilovitch1(/at/)

Ashley McFarquhar

Ashley is an undergraduate at McGill University, majoring in Neuroscience. She is excited to learn more about neuroimaging and computational programming here in the lab. In her spare time, she enjoys jogging around Montreal and dog spotting.


Contact: ashley.mcfarquhar(/at/)



Félix Lapalme

Félix is an undergraduate student in psychology and sociology at Université de Montréal. Apart from neuropsychology and neuroimaging, he’s interested in fields as brain development, sport psychology, and performance psychology. He’s a track and field coach and he’s a board member of the Université de Montréal Triathlon Club. In his spare time, he trains in the three disciplines of triathlon and he likes to initiate sedentary people to physical activity.

Contact: felix.lapalme(/at/)


Lise Løvland

Lise gained her BSc (Hons) Psychology degree from the University of St Andrews in 2015, and is currently an MSc candidate at University College London. For her master’s project, she will investigate the relationship between repetitive negative thinking and risk of Alzheimer’s Disease, under the supervision of Dr Natalie Marchant and Dr Sylvia Villeneuve. When Lise is not working, she enjoys exploring London’s finest cafés and parks, cooking, working out, and singing.



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Shirin Tabrizi
Shirin graduated from McGill in 2015 with a Bachelor of Arts and Science in cognitive science, with a focus on neuroscience.  She’s especially interested in the intersection of neuroscience and public health. Outside of the lab, she enjoys reading and biking around Montreal and its environs.

Contact: tabrizi.shirin(/at/)



Mina Ghabraie
At the end of 2014, Mina graduated from INRS (Institut National de la Recherche Scientifique) with a Master’s degree in Applied Microbiology. Afterward, she worked as a research assistant in the neuroscience laboratory. To pursue her dream, building her career in neuroimaging, she started volunteering here since February 2017. She is interested in Alzheimer’s disease, brain development and the effects of diseases on brain function. Outside the lab, she likes hiking, mountain climbing, traveling, cycling and of course dancing.

Sander Verfaillie
Sander has been a Ph.D. candidate at the “Alzheimercenter” of the VU University Medical Center in Amsterdam (the Netherlands) since December 2013. He is a neuropsychologist and neuroscientist by background within a keen interest in MRI and PET neuroimaging. His Ph.D. project aims to investigate the earliest brain changes leading to Alzheimer’s Disease in
cognitively intact individuals.
When not conducting research, he likes traveling, hiking, running, cooking and la joie de vivre in Montreal.

Contact: sander.verfaillie(/at/)
PubMed | ResearchGate | LinkedIn

Peter Maliha
Peter is a 4th year medical student from Montreal University. Interested by neuroimaging modalities, he volunteered at the lab during the summer of 2016. His hobbies include tennis, bouldering, and cinema.

Contact: petermahila(/at/)




Jill McCarthy
Jill is a student in the Integrated Program in Neuroscience’s Rotation Program at McGill. She obtained a BSc (Honours) in Behavioural Neuroscience from Memorial University. Her project in the Villeneuve lab focused on the interaction between vascular health and Alzheimer’s disease pathology.