Dr. Simonyan received her medical degrees (M.D. and Dr. med.) from Yerevan State Medical University in Armenia and Georg-August University in Germany and a Ph.D. degree in Neurobiology from the TiHo University of Hannover in Germany. She completed her residency in Otolaryngology and a clinical research fellowship in Movement Disorders, Neurolaryngology, and Neuroimaging.
Dr. Simonyan studies the neural mechanisms of normal and diseased speech production and other complex voluntary motor behaviors. Her clinical research program is focused on isolated focal dystonia, a debilitating neurological movement disorder causing involuntary muscle spasms in different body regions. Her methodological approach bridges brain imaging, machine learning, computational neuroscience, genetics, and clinical trials.
Her recent studies have mapped the large-scale neural architecture underlying speech production and its impairments in laryngeal dystonia. Her research helped define the current view of isolated focal dystonia as a functional and structural neural network disorder. This work led to identifying a neural biomarker for the objective diagnosis of focal dystonia using a deep learning platform, DystoniaNet. She has also identified a new oral drug, sodium oxybate, for the treatment of alcohol-responsive laryngeal dystonia and voice tremor.
Dr. Simonyan’s laboratory is currently focused on refining the understanding of the pathophysiological mechanisms of focal dystonia and developing clinically applicable extension of the DystoniaNet platform for dystonia differential diagnosis, predictive risk in susceptible individuals, and treatment outcomes. She is also investigating a feasibility of a novel brain-computer interface (BCI) strategy for treating focal dystonia. In addition, she directs the NIDCD P50 Clinical Research Center on Next-generation Clinical Phenotyping and Pathophysiology of Laryngeal Dystonia and Voice Tremor, which includes Massachusetts Eye and Ear, Massachusetts General Hospital, the University of California San Francisco, the University of Utah, the University of Iowa, and the University of Massachusetts Chan Medical School. The P50 Center focuses on the delineation of unique clinical and pathophysiological features of these disorders to establish the fundamental framework for their enhanced clinical management.
The Simonyan Laboratory has been continuously supported by the National Institutes of Health, Department of Defense, Jazz Pharmaceuticals, Amazon Web Services, Mass General Brigham Innovation, and philantropic funds.