2021 MRM Talks: Dr. Thomas Durcan and Ms. Maria Castellanos


The MRM Network presents: the MRM Talks. Join us every fourth Thursday at noon to learn more about stem cells and regenerative medicine. The webinar series will feature leading scientists in the field, including MRM Principal Investigators and external guest speakers.

For each seminar, we will also highlight the work of one MRM Trainee, who will present alongside our guest speaker.

In this edition of the MRM Talks:

Dr. Thomas Durcan,
Assistant Professor in the Department of Neurology and Neurosurgery at McGill University,
Associate Director of the Early Drug Discovery Unit (EDDU) at The Neuro.

“From patients to organoids: Modelling disorders of the brain through stem cells.”


Maria Castellanos,
Ph.D. Candidate at the EDDU.

“Towards building a 3D neuromuscular junction (NMJ) to model motor neuron diseases”.


12:00 – 1:00 PM

About the speakers:

Dr. Thomas M. Durcan is an Assistant Professor in the department of Neurology and Neurosurgery at McGill University and is a member of the Centre for Neurodegenerative disease group at the MNI. Dr. Durcan received his Bachelor of Science from University College Dublin before moving to the USA to obtain his Ph.D in Cell and Molecular Biology from the University of Notre Dame in 2007. For his postdoctoral
research, Dr. Durcan joined the Parkinson’s research group of Dr. Edward Fon, were he focused on the function of deubiquitinating enzymes in Parkinson’s disease and other neurodegenerative disorders. His current research program is focused on the use of iPSCs and mouse models to understand how specific pathways are affected in Parkinson’s disease and other neurodegenerative disorders. In addition to his academic appointment, Dr. Durcan is associate director for the Neuro’s Early Drug Discovery Unit (EDDU), focused on the use of iPSCs for fundamental and translational discovery project. During this time, he has published in many prestigious scientific journals including eLife, Journal of Cell Biology, Stem Cell reports, EMBO Journal, and Human Molecular Genetics. He has previously received research support from the Parkinson’s Society of Canada, and the Parkinson’s Disease Foundation. He is currently funded through research grants from the Michael J Fox Foundation, Parkinson’s Society of Canada, Canadian Institute for Health Research, the US Department of Defense (DOD) and the McGill Healthy Brains, Healthy Lives (HBHL) initiative.

Maria Castellanos was born the same year as Nintendo64 and Dolly the sheep. She did a Bachelor of Science at the National Autonomous University of Mexico. During her bachelor, she worked at the lab of Ivan Velasco where she began to form as a scientist by studying the role of glial cell-derived neurotrophic factor (GDNF) in the interaction between motor neurons and skeletal muscle. Currently, she is a PhD student at The Neuro Early Drug Discovery Unit at McGill University, where her research focuses on the use of stem cells to generate in vitro models of motor neuron diseases like amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS).

We want to hear from you, and we welcome your suggestions for speakers!
If you are interested in hosting an invited speaker, please get in touch with us.

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