Bassett Fellowship Alumni Update: Joel Fernando Sanabria Duarte

Bassett Fellowship Alumni Update: Joel Fernando Sanabria Duarte

Developing skills to advance functional neurosurgery access in Paraguay

Dr. Sanabria Duarte with fellowship host, Dr. Suneil Kalia at Toronto Western Hospital

Name: Joel Fernando Sanabria Duarte
Home Country: Paraguay
Sponsors: Dr. Suneil Kalia, Dr. Andres Lozano and Dr. Taufik Valiante
Fellowship Training Hospital: Toronto Western Hospital

FIENS is proud to share the news that FIENS Bassett Fellow awardee, Dr. Joel Fernando Sanabria Duarte completed his fellowship in June 2023. Dr. Sanabria Duarte is a functional neurosurgery fellow from Paraguay who aspired for many years to have the opportunity to visit and observe Dr. Suneil Kalia. His admiration for Dr. Kalia stemmed from his world renowned service specialty in Parkinson’s Disease. 

Fellowship Overview

At Toronto Western Hospital, under the guidance of neurosurgeons, Dr. Suneil Kalia, Dr. Andres Lozano and Dr. Taufik Valiante, Dr. Sanabria Duarte was able to attend procedures that are only performed in a few places worldwide, such as focused ultrasound (FUS), interstitial laser therapy (LITT) and stereoelectroencephalography (SEEG) with robot guidance, in addition to a substantial number of Deep Brain Stimulation (DBS) for Parkinson Disease and others movement disorders. He shared that one of the most valuable learning experiences was observing intraoperative monitoring with microrecordings of awake patients during the DBS implantation. 

He was  impressed by the significance of a multidisciplinary team composed of neurophysiologists, neurologists, biomedical professionals, and engineers working collaboratively to assist patients. He was also able to attend research meetings where ongoing research projects were discussed, including stem cell implantation for Parkinson’s disease treatment, DBS for dementia, DBS for addiction, liquid biopsy with FUS, and electrical stimulation in glioma cells in vitro.

Goals for Neurosurgical Infrastructure in Paraguay

Dr. Sanabria Duarte explained that as one of only a few Paraguayan neurosurgeons trained in functional neurosurgery, he is working on creating a project with colleague, Oscar Servin to treat patients with movement disorders (the epilepsy project is already underway, with over 20 patients operated on in recent years). He shared that it is a long and challenging journey, but it wouldn’t be possible without the training and assistance provided by FIENS. 

Sharing Gratitude

Dr. Sanbria Duarte would like to thank his family, his girlfriend, and his home hospital, Instituto de Neurologia Curitiba – Neurological Institute of Curitiba, for their support during his neurosurgical training. 

“Having this experience would have been impossible without the financial support from FIENS. Each challenge gives strength to move forward, knowing that now we have hope for a better future.

All of us at FIENS are very happy to have been able to provide support to this young aspiring neurosurgeon and are honored to be a part of his professional journey. We look forward to sharing updates on Dr. Sanabria Duarte’s progress in Paraguay.