Thomas Durcan, PhD

Thomas Durcan, PhD
Contact Information
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Hospital title: 
Assistant Professor in the Department of Neurology and Neurosurgery
Prizes and Awards: 
The Cyril and Dorothy, Joel and Jill Reitman Foundation Prize for Open Science in Action

Thomas Durcan came to The Neuro to be part of its new generation and its new vision. “It’s an exciting time to be here,” he says. “New researchers working with older researchers – it’s very inspiring." His lab is making stem cells that can turn be turned into neurons.

Originally from Dublin, Ireland, I have been at the MNI since 2007 and this place has become like a second home to me. As an Assistant Professor at the Montreal Neurological Institute (MNI) and McGill University (, my research focus is on applying patient-derived induced pluripotent stem cells (IPSCs) towards the development of phenotypic discovery assays and 3D mini-brain models ( for both neurodegenerative and neurodevelopmental disorders.

As Associate Director of the EDDU at The Neuro, I oversee a team of over 35 research staff and students, committed to applying novel stem cell technology, combined with CRISPR genome editing, mini-brain models and new microfluidic technologies towards elucidating the underlying causes of these complex disorders. Combined with new approaches in the group towards building multiomics profiles on the patient-derived IPSC cells, the long-term strategy is to identify new personalized precision. Dr. Durcan's academic research program is funded by a CIHR program grant and a USA Department of Defense Parkinson's Research grant. 

Selected publications: 
  1. Maussion G, Rocha C, Bernard G, Beitel LK, Durcan TM. Patient-Derived Stem Cells, Another in vitro Model, or the Missing Link Toward Novel Therapies for Autism Spectrum Disorders? Front Pediatr. 2019 Jun 6;7:225. doi: 10.3389/fped.2019.00225.
  2. Mohamed NV, Larroquette F, Beitel LK, Fon EA, Durcan TM. One Step Into the Future: New iPSC Tools to Advance Research in Parkinson's Disease and Neurological Disorders. J Parkinsons Dis. 2019;9(2):265-281. doi: 10.3233/JPD-181515.
  3. Bell S, Maussion G, Jefri M, Peng H, Theroux JF, Silveira H, Soubannier V, Wu H, Hu P, Galat E, Torres-Platas SG, Boudreau-Pinsonneault C, O'Leary LA, Galat V, Turecki G, Durcan TM, Fon EA, Mechawar N, Ernst C. Disruption of GRIN2B Impairs Differentiation in Human Neurons. Stem Cell Reports. 2018 Jul 10;11(1):183-196. doi: 10.1016/j.stemcr.2018.05.018.
  4. McLelland GL, Goiran T, Yi W, Dorval G, Chen CX, Lauinger ND, Krahn AI, Valimehr S, Rakovic A, Rouiller I, Durcan TM, Trempe JF, Fon EA. Mfn2 ubiquitination by PINK1/parkin gates the p97-dependent release of ER from mitochondria to drive mitophagy. Elife. 2018 Apr 20;7. pii: e32866. doi:10.7554/eLife.32866.
  5. Han C, Chaineau M, Chen CX, Beitel LK, Durcan TM. Open Science Meets Stem Cells: A New Drug Discovery Approach for Neurodegenerative Disorders. Front Neurosci. 2018 Feb 6;12:47. doi: 10.3389/fnins.2018.00047.
  6. Manecka DL, Vanderperre B, Fon EA, Durcan TM. The Neuroprotective Role of Protein Quality Control in Halting the Development of Alpha-Synuclein Pathology. Front Mol Neurosci. 2017 Sep 27;10:311. doi: 10.3389/fnmol.2017.00311.
  7. Roberts RF, Tang MY, Fon EA, Durcan TM. Defending the mitochondria: The pathways of mitophagy and mitochondrial-derived vesicles. Int J Biochem Cell Biol. 2016 Oct;79:427-436. doi: 10.1016/j.biocel.2016.07.020.
  8. Durcan TM, Fon EA. The three 'P's of mitophagy: PARKIN, PINK1, and post-translational modifications. Genes Dev. 2015 May 15;29(10):989-99. doi: 10.1101/gad.262758.115.
  9. Durcan TM, Tang MY, Pérusse JR, Dashti EA, Aguileta MA, McLelland GL, Gros P, Shaler TA, Faubert D, Coulombe B, Fon EA. USP8 regulates mitophagy by removing K6-linked ubiquitin conjugates from parkin. EMBO J. 2014 Nov 3;33(21):2473-91.doi: 10.15252/embj.201489729.
  10. Montie HL, Durcan TM. The cell and molecular biology of neurodegenerative diseases: an overview. Front Neurol. 2013 Nov 29;4:194. doi: 10.3389/fneur.2013.00194.
Research areas: 
Neurodegenerative Disorders

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The Neuro (Montreal Neurological Institute-Hospital) is a bilingual academic healthcare institution. We are a McGill research and teaching institute; delivering high-quality patient care, as part of the Neuroscience Mission of the McGill University Health Centre. We are proud to be a Killam Institution, supported by the Killam Trusts.




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