McMaster University

Stem Cell and Cancer
Research Institute

Scope of Search

Karun Singh

Karun Singh


McMaster Stem Cell and Cancer Research Institute

Assistant Professor, Department of Biochemistry and Biomedical Sciences

David Braley Chair in Human Stem Cell Research

Research Overview

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

Honours and Awards

Year Description
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

Selected Publications

  • Singh, K.K., Ge, X., Mao, Y., Drane, L., Meletis, K., Samuels, B.A. and Tsai, L.H. (2010). Dixdc1 is a critical regulator of DISC1 and embryonic cortical development. Neuron 67, 33-48.
  • Mao, Y., Ge, X., Frank, C.L., Madison, J.M., Koeler, A.N., Doud, M.K., Tassa, C., Berry, E.M., Soda, T., Singh. K.K., Biechele, T., Petryshen, T.L., Moon, R.T., Haggarty, S.J., Tsai, L.H. (2009). Disrupted in Schizophrenia 1 regulates neuronal progenitor proliferation via modulation of GSK3b/b-catenin signaling. Cell 136, 1017-1031.
  • Singh, K.K., Park, K.P., Hong, E.J., Kramer, B.M., Greenberg, M.E., Kaplan, D.R. and Miller, F.D. (2008). Developmental axon pruning mediated by BDNF-p75NTR–mediated axon degeneration. Nature Neuroscience 11(6), 649-658.
  • Singh, K.K. and Miller F.D. (2005). Activity Regulates Positive and Negative Neurotrophin-Derived Signals to Determine Axon Competition. Neuron 45(6), 837-845.
  • Atwal, J.K., Singh, K.K., Tessier-Lavigne, M., Miller, F.D. and Kaplan, D.R. (2003). Semaphorin 3F antagonizes neurotrophin-induced phosphatidylinositol 3-kinase and mitogen-activated protein kinase signaling: a mechanism for growth cone collapse. Journal of Neuroscience 23(20), 7602-7609.

[Karun Singh's publications on Pub Med]