Thomas Durcan, PhD

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thomas.durcan [at]
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Assistant Professor in the Department of Neurology and Neurosurgery

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.

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. Durcan received his Bachelor of Science from University College Dublin, Ireland, before moving to the USA where he obtained his PhD in Cell and Molecular Biology from the University of Notre Dame in 2007. For his postdoctoral research, 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 induced pluripotent stem cells (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, Durcan manages the new Brain Canada iPSC-CRISPR translational platform at the MNI, focused on providing iPSC-derived neurons for use in different academic and translational projects. During this time, he has published in many prestigious scientific journals including Journal of Cell Biology, EMBO Journal, and Human Molecular Genetics. He has previously received research support from the Parkinson’s Society of Canada, Parkinson’s Disease Foundation and National Ataxia Foundation. He is currently funded through a research grant from the Michael J Fox Foundation.  

Selected publications: 

Roberts, R.F., Tang, M.Y., Fon E.A. and Durcan T.M. (2016) Defending the mitochondria: The pathways of mitophagy and mitochondrial-derived vesicles. International Journal of Biochemistry and Cell Biology. S1357-2725(16)30194-7

Aguileta M.A., Korac J., Durcan T.M., Trempe J.F., Haber M., Gehring K., Elsasser S., Waidmann O., Fon E.A., Husnjak K. (2015) The E3 ubiquitin ligase parkin is recruited to the 26 S proteasome via the proteasomal ubiquitin receptor Rpn13. Journal of Biological Chemistry. 290(12): 7492-505.

Durcan T.M. and Fon E.A. (2015) The three 'P's of mitophagy: PARKIN, PINK1, and post-translational modifications. Genes and Development. 29(10):989-99

Durcan T.M. and Fon E.A. (2015) USP8 and PARK2/parkin-mediated mitophagy. Autophagy. 11(2): 428-9.

Durcan T.M., Tang M.Y., Pérusse J.R., Dashti E.A., Aguileta M.A., McLelland G.L., Gros P., Shaler T.A., Faubert D., Coulombe B., Fon E.A. (2014) USP8 regulates mitophagy by removing K6-linked ubiquitin conjugates from parkin. EMBO J. 33(21): 2473-91.

Montie, H.L and Durcan, T.M. (2013) The cell and molecular biology of neurodegenerative diseases: an overview. Frontiers in Neurology 4:194. doi: 10.3389/fneur.2013.00194. eCollection 2013

Durcan, T.M. and Fon, E.A. (2013) Ataxin-3 and its E3 partners: Implications for Machado-Joseph disease, Frontiers in Neurology 4:46. doi: 10.3389/fneur.2013.00046. eCollection 2013

Durcan, T.M., Kontogiannea, M., Bedard, N., Wing, S.S. and Fon, E.A. (2012) Ataxin-3 deubiquitination is coupled to parkin ubiquitination via the E2 ubiquitin-conjugating enzyme. Journal of Biological Chemistry. 287(1): 531-41.

Durcan, T.M, Kontogiannea, M., Thorarinsdottir, T.E., Fallon, L., Fantaneanu, T.A., Williams, A.J., Paulson, H.L., Fon E.A. (2011) The Machado-Joseph disease-associated mutant form of ataxin-3 regulates parkin ubiquitination and stability. Human Molecular Genetics. 20(1):141-54.

Research areas: 
Neurodegenerative Disorders

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