David Braley Chair in Human Stem Cell Research
Dr. Karun Singh joined the McMaster Stem Cell and Cancer Research Institute in May 2012. He is a Hamilton native, returning to McMaster University as an Assistant Professor in Biochemistry and Biomedical Sciences. Dr. Singh completed his postdoctoral fellowship with Dr. Li-Huei Tsai at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) using neural stem cell models to study neuropsychiatric disorders. Prior to that, in 2008, Dr. Singh obtained his Ph.D. from the University of Toronto where he worked under Dr. Freda Miller examining signaling pathways that regulate the refinement of neural projections in the developing nervous system.
Dr. Singh's research will focus on studying neural stem cells and brain development disorders. Continuing his postdoctoral work, he will focus on neurodevelopmental and neuropsychiatric diseases such as schizophrenia and autism. These disorders are known to run in families, which means that underlying genetic risk factors for developing mental illnesses exist. However, very little is known about how these genes affect the function of different cellular populations in the brain, in particular, neural stem cells. This information is vital in order to develop novel therapeutics to combat these devastating disorders. Dr. Singh will use novel mouse and human neural stem cell models in combination with in vitro and in vivo approaches to study the function of genetic risk factors for autism and schizophrenia.
Dr. Singh is looking forward to working with human skin cells that can be reprogrammed into induced pluripotent stem (iPS) cells, which can then be coaxed to differentiate. This technique has changed neurological research since it is now possible to create neural stem cells directly from a patient. Dr. Singh is also using a new and exciting method to turn patient skin cells into functional neurons, bypassing a stem cell state. This will greatly accelerate the pace in which patient neurons can be generated and studied. These methods will be used to generate patient-derived neural stem cells and mature neurons that carry disease-causing genetic mutations. Dr. Singh’s hope is to study these neural cells using cutting edge molecular tools to understand how mutations disrupt neuronal function. By first understanding how the genetic mutations cause aberrant neuronal function, it is then possible to utilize the chemical screening abilities of the SCC-RI to design and implement high-throughput drug screens that focus on correcting the abnormal neural cellular function.
2001 - 2008 — PhD, Neurobiology, University of Toronto
1997 - 2001 — BSc, Honours Biology, McMaster University
|2008 - 2011||Human Frontiers Science Program Long-Term Fellowship|
|2008 - 2010||NSERC - Postdoctoral Research Award|
|2006, 2009||Canadian Institute of Health Research Brain Star Award (2 time recipient)|
|2006||Honorable Mention - J.C. Laidlaw Manuscript Competition|
|2005, 2006||Ontario Graduate Scholarship (2 time recipient)|
|2004 - 2007||Hospital for Sick Children Graduate Studentship|
|2005||Toronto Star - Hospital for Sick Children Tuition Award|
|2003 - 2005||University of Toronto Open Fellowship (3 time recipient)|
|1999 - 2001||McMaster University Dean's Honour List (3 time recipient)|
|2000||NSERC - Undergraduate Summer Research Award|