Spotlight on... Phedias Diamandis
Each month we speak to a member of the Laboratory Medicine & Pathobiology community and find out more about them.
This month it is Dr. Phedias Diamandis, Assistant Professor in the Department of Laboratory Medicine & Pathobiology. One of his graduate students is a winner in the T-CAIREM Trainee Rounds.
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What is your role and what does it involve?
I am a Neuropathologist at the University Health Network, Scientist at Princess Margaret and an Assistant Professor in the Departments of Laboratory Medicine and Pathobiology and Medical Biophysics.
My clinical role involves the microscopic and molecular classification of various neurological disorders, particularly brain tumors. My research and training roles focus on using chemical biology, deep learning and mass spectrometry-based proteomics to resolve heterogeneity in different brain and glioblastoma niches. The goal of this work is to understand how our brain develops and matures and why many current treatments fail. I hope this knowledge can improve future outcomes in people suffering from various neurological disorders.
How long have you been at LMP and what were you doing before that?
I completed my combined MD/PhD and residency training in neuropathology at the University of Toronto in 2016 and joined as a faculty following graduation.
What working achievement or initiative are you most proud of?
Part of my group is focused on applying modern artificial intelligence tools to the pathological analysis of brain tumors.
While this was something that was quite distinct from my molecular biology training and remainder of my research program, the ability to leverage my clinical expertise to help advance this technology to generate scalable tools that automate and provide objectivity to analysis of patient tissue is extremely rewarding.
We are now beginning to explore commercialization and developing software that allows these innovations to be adopted by remote centers.
The evolution of this project from conception to a productive academic program and now moving towards a tangible product has been both very challenging and rewarding.
Tell us about a project you are working on now which is top of your to-do list
My lab is very much focused on understanding the human brain and its various debilitating maladies.
We are now investing a lot of our machine learning resources and expertise into wearable technologies so we can understand how the communication between brain cells change across learning, different mental states, emotions, aging and disease.
The ability to understand these patterns holds a lot of potential for treating different neurological disorders and human brain augmentation.
What is your favourite album, film and novel?
Album: Automatic for the People (REM)
Film: A Beautiful Mind
Novel: Principles of Neural Sciences (Eric Kandel)
What is your favourite (family friendly) joke?
My mother always told me I was destined to be a pathologist because I was always “staining” things around the house growing up
Who would be your dream dinner guests?
I am a big tennis fan and my wife and I actually invited tennis legend Rafael Nadal to our wedding. His team politely replied with regrets.
I thought that was pretty cool and classy of him and would definitely love to have a family dinner with him in the future, despite firmly believing it is better to never meet your heroes.
What advice would you give your younger self?
Take more smart and calculated risks when you are young and try and do something meaningful that excites you and that you believe in. Don’t be afraid to fail. You can’t take as many risks as you get older.
What would it surprise people to know about you?
I run a YouTube channel called NeuroscIQ devoted to discussing everything Neuroscience. Check it out!
What is your favourite place?
My favorite place is Athens; my birthplace.
I enjoy exploring new cities, but going back to the place where “it all began” is always special. It gives me goose bumps and forces me to take time and reflect on family, heritage, and the remarkable journey and sacrifices my parents made to come here to Canada and give us a better life.