Daniel Côté

Daniel Côté

Département de Physique, génie physique et optique
Université Laval

Chair title

NSERC/HBI Chair in Optical Technologies for Neurosurgery

Chair program

Industrial Research Chairs program


Senior Chairholder since 2020


Parkinson’s disease (PD) is a brain disease affecting more than 100,000 Canadians. Current medication can treat the symptoms, but after approximately a decade, electrode implantation through deep brain stimulation (DBS) surgery is often the only remaining option. When properly implanted, these electrodes reduce most symptoms for another decade. However, in one out of four cases where they are misplaced by even a millimeter (i.e., the width of a grain of rice), this leads to problems such as incontinence, impaired speech and even depression, and the electrodes cannot successfully remove the tremors. Neurosurgeons are always looking for new ways to improve their surgeries, and after years of discussions with neurosurgeons, it has become evident that optical technologies developed in the laboratory of Dr. Côté offer game-changing opportunities for neurosurgery: they are versatile and affordable; they can be miniaturized; and the many colours of light provide different types of information about the tissue.

We are all familiar with magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) and X-ray imaging: they have been used for decades in hospitals. However, the development of novel optical techniques for neurosurgery is not an easy task and requires a large team and a long-term investment. Dr. Côté's team has worked for five years to create many types of optical fibre devices that enable guidance during brain surgery. They would be used to help surgeons identify the areas of the brain where the electrodes are, and to locate the exact position where the electrode should be implanted. In addition, the team’s strategies can be used for other diseases of the brain, such as cancer. Following a long-standing collaboration with Halifax Biomedical (HBI), Castor Optics, Photon Etc and CHU de Québec neurosurgeons, it has become clear that these optical devices need to be validated at physical, scientific and biological levels. Advanced visualization strategies need to be developed, and new tools using sophisticated lasers must be explored.

The goal of the present NSERC/HBI Industrial Research Chair program is to develop fibre optic devices that can be used during brain surgery to see and identify the tissue. This involves several small projects in parallel where the particularities of fibre devices, laser sources or analysis techniques will be investigated or often combined. The end goal is to combine the necessary techniques into powerful devices that neurosurgeons can use during deep brain surgery to obtain the best possible results for their patients.

Dr. Côté is an expert in coherent Raman spectroscopy, a novel technique he has helped popularize in neuroscience, which can see brain tissue in great detail. Université Laval is an undisputed leader in the high-tech field of optics, photonics and lasers. Its researchers, including Daniel Côté, are responsible for major scientific breakthroughs in the field. Their expertise in areas such as fibre optics, photonic materials and optical communications is revolutionizing medicine, telecommunications and agriculture.


  • Halifax Biomedical Inc.
  • Fondation CERVO
  • Castor Optics Inc.
  • Photon Etc.

Contact information

Département de Physique, génie physique et optique
Université Laval



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