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Oleksiy Zaika

OleksiyI am a PhD student in the department of Anatomy & Cell Biology, working under the supervision of Dr. Sandrine de Ribaupierre and Dr. Roy Eagleson. Having a collaboration between the fields of anatomy and engineering, our lab focuses on usability and implementation of augmented and virtual reality systems in neurosurgery. Using simulation as a testing backbone, we aim to establish the core competencies and skills that govern surgical performance, including depth perception, object targeting, task complexity and procedural performance metrics. We believe this knowledge to be the cornerstone to evidence-based medical education in spatially-complex surgical procedures.


I studied under the Bio-Medical Sciences umbrella at the University of Guelph, with a specialization in neuroscience. In my final year, I found myself split between research in neuroscience (role of histone acetylation in memory in rats) and anatomy education and dissection study in human kinetics. As the year progressed, I found myself drawn to the field of anatomy and its complex role in medicine. I decided to pursue a Master’s in Clinical Anatomy, which has opened my eyes to the breadth of research in medical education. This research project has developed into the focus of my PhD work.


My research is focused on skill development in cerebral angiography coiling procedures using haptic simulation. During an endovascular intervention with a cerebral aneurysm, an interventionalist manipulates a set of wires and catheters in order to fill and stabilize the aneurysmal space. This procedure uses limited fluoroscopy monitoring to navigate a 3D endovascular network – a combination of obstacles that make the procedure difficult. Currently, fellowships specializing in teaching these procedures are limited to offering most technical training in the operating room. With the appropriate implementation of simulation, it would be advantageous to target and develop core procedural skills and competencies.

Using a haptic simulator, we showed dramatic improvements in skill development in aneurysm coiling in novices. We were able to show that simulation can significantly improve the acquisition of basic interventional skills, such as coil placement and aneurysm filling, in novice trainees. This progress is complemented by reduced navigational errors and procedural time, providing us with valuable information on the learning curves that novices exhibit in attaining clinical competency.

Currently, we are looking to establish core actions made by expert interventionalists in clinical scenarios to build simulation-based training programs for future interventional angiography fellows.


Outside of my family time, I find myself pursuing hobbies that challenge and excite me. I cycle in my free time, and occasionally participate in charity-based cycling events. I love to read culinary books and spend time in the kitchen trying out new recipes. In the last year, I have picked up photography and have been enjoying a creative outlet.

I also love connecting with other people. Please feel free to contact me ( with any questions you have about my field and grad school in general!