Christoforos Christoforou

Christoforos Christoforou alumni photo

Graduated: 2008

Post-Doctoral Position: Research Scientist at Center for Applied Neuroscience (CAN) at the University of Cyprus

I earned my PhD back in 2008 under the joined supervision of Professor Robert Haralick and Professor Lucas Parra. During my studies I had the opportunity to work in an interdisciplinary environment through a dual appointment in the Pattern Recognition Laboratory and the Neural Engineering: Signals and Computation Laboratory which enabled me to develop my core research skills in machine learning, computational neuroscience and Brain Computer Interfaces, as well as discover my passion for translational research. My research was fully supported by research grants, awards and teaching opportunities. What is more, I had the opportunity to travel around the globe, get to know industry leaders and decision makers and get involved in the creation of spin-off companies, an experience which fortified my entrepreneurial spirit.  All-in-all, it has been a wonderful journey that has helped me define my vision of taking research outside of laboratories and into pragmatic applications from which society could benefit.

In pursuit of that vision, I let go of an opportunity for a post-doctoral position at Columbia University, returned to my home country – Cyprus – and founded a then start-up company named R.K.I Leaders Ltd - an abbreviation of Research, Knowledge, Innovation Leaders - on a mission to build on my interdisciplinary research knowledge and get innovative products and services into the market. The journey hasn’t been smooth by any means, on the contrary there have been  a lot of ups and downs. With the EU financial crisis growing, the national funding frozen for years ahead, and the big hit from the financial collapse of Cyprus made me doubt my decision to leave the United States. However, my education and experience at the Graduate Center has helped me manage and overcome these challenges and despite the negative setting I have been able to firstly secure a research and development grant, followed by a commercialization grant from EU funding, a total amount of $370K. In just five years, R.K.I Leaders is putting the finishing touches on its first innovative application; the neuroscience platform for branding intelligence and marketing, which is scheduled to be released in the US market by the end of 2014.

A parallel branch of my career's journey is in academia. In 2011, I was given the opportunity to join the Center for Applied Neuroscience (CAN) at the University of Cyprus - the top academic institution of the country - as a Research Scientist. I was the first hire of the then newly established research center. At the Center I am working on neuroimaging data analysis involving EEG, eye-tracking and functional MRI and I develop methodologies for both diagnosis and intervention protocols.  In the past three years, I worked on developing computation methods towards monitoring recovery of Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI) patients, developing methodologies for analyzing MRI and fMRI for Alzheimer's patients, and designing neuroimaging paradigms to characterize language learning impairments and dyslexia in young children. A common theme of my research activities is its interdisciplinary and translational nature - combining neuroscience and computer science to spring research out of the lab and into useful applications that people need - the passion I have been following from my time at the Graduate Center.

Looking back, five years after earning my PhD I can say that the education, guidance, experiences and opportunities I had as a student at CUNY helped me define my vision, gave me a great start on my journey to pursue that vision, and equipped me with the confidence to know that I will realize it.