Thomas Durcan, PhD

Thomas Durcan, PhD
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Associate Professor, 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.

Originally from Dublin, Ireland, I have been at the Montreal Neurological Institute and Hospital (The Neuro) for over 15 years and this place has become like a second home to me. As an Associate Professor at The Neuro and McGill University (Tom Durcan - I Choose The Neuro (YouTube)), my research focus is on applying patient-derived stem cells towards the development of phenotypic discovery assays and 3D organoid models for both neurodegenerative and neurodevelopmental disorders.

As director of the Early Drug Discovery Unit (EDDU) at The Neuro, I oversee a team of over 40 research staff and students, committed to applying novel stem cell technology, combined with CRISPR genome editing, organoid models, and novel multiOmics approaches towards elucidating the underlying causes of these complex disorders. Combined with new approaches in the group towards building more physiological models of these diseases with stem cells on a dish, the long-term strategy is to partner with academics and industry to accelerate the development of new therapeutics for the clinic. Dr. Durcan's academic research program is funded by a CIHR program grant, CQDM, Brain Canada, McGill’s Healthy Brains for Healthy Lives, and Michael J Fox Foundation.  In 2019 he was the first recipient of the "The Cyril and Dorothy, Joel and Jill Reitman Foundation Prize for Open Science in Action". Dr. Durcan is also a Neuro Killam Scholar and a recipient of the Neuro Killam Trust Memorial Fund.

Selected publications: 

URL to list of published work (Durcan TM / Durcan T; 69 publications 2007-2023):

  1. Mohamed N-V, Mathur M, Da Silva RV, Beitel LK, Fon EA, Durcan TM. Generation of human minibrain organoids from induced pluripotent stem cells MNI Open Research. 2021.
  2. Chen X-Q, Abdian N, Maussion G, Thomas RA, Demirova I, Cai E, Beitel L, Fon EA, Durcan TM. A Multistep Workflow to Evaluate Newly Generated iPSCs and Their Ability to Generate Different Cell Types. Methods Protoc. 2021. Jul 19;4(3):50. doi: 10.3390/mps4030050.
  3. Mohamed N-V, Sirois J, Ramamurthy J, Mathur M, Lépine P, Deneault E, Maussion G, Nicouleau M, Chen X-Q, Abdian N, Cai E, Nami H, Thomas RA, Tabatabaei M, Beitel LK, Karamchandani J, Kunath T, Fon EA and Durcan TM. Elevated synuclein levels in Midbrain organoids drive the formation of synuclein aggregates. Brain Communications. 2021. Sep 25;3(4): fcab223. doi: 10.1093/braincomms/fcab223.
  4. Maussion G, Thomas RA, Demirova I, Cai E, Gu G, Chen X-Q, Abdian N, Nauleau-Javaudin A, Ramoz N, Gorwood P and Durcan TM. Auto-QPCR: A Python based web app for the reproducible analysis of qPCR data. Sci Rep. 2021. Oct 29;11(1):21293. doi: 10.1038/s41598-021-99727-6.
  5. Cassel de Camps C, Aslani S, Stylianesis N, Nami H, Mohamed NV, Durcan TM, Moraes C. Hydrogel Mechanics Influence the Growth and Development of Embedded Brain Organoids. ACS Appl Bio Mater. 2022 Jan 17;5(1):214-224. doi: 10.1021/acsabm.1c01047.
  6. Soubannier V, Chaineau M, Gursu L, Haghi G, Flores AKF, Rouleau G, Durcan TM, Stefano Stifani. Rapid generation of ventral spinal cord-like astrocytes from human iPSCs for modeling non-cell autonomous mechanisms of lower motor neuron disease. Cells 2022, 11, 399.
  7. Hettige NC, Peng H, Wu H, Zhang X, Yerko V, Zhang Y, Jefri M, Soubannier V, Maussion G, Alsuwaidi S, Ni A, Rocha C, Krishnan J, McCarty V, Antonyan L, Schuppert A, Turecki G, Fon EA, Durcan TM, Ernst C. FOXG1 dose tunes cell proliferation dynamics in human forebrain progenitor cells. Stem Cell Reports. 2022 Mar 8;17(3):475-488. doi: 10.1016/j.stemcr.2022.01.010. Epub 2022 Feb 10.
  8. Duchesne A, Dong J, Bayne AN, Mohamed N-V, Yi W, Mathur M, Fon EA, Durcan TM, Jean-François Trempe. An Approach to Measuring Protein Turnover in Human Induced Pluripotent Stem Cell Organoids by Mass Spectrometry. Methods. 2022 Jul;203:17-27. doi: 10.1016/j.ymeth.2022.03.011. Epub 2022 Mar 21.
  9. Mohamed NV, Lépine P, Lacalle-Aurioles M, Sirois J, Mathur M, Reintsch W, Beitel LK, Fon EA, Durcan TM. Microfabricated disk technology: Rapid scale up in midbrain organoid generation. Methods. 2022 Jul;203:465-477. doi: 10.1016/j.ymeth.2021.07.008.
  10. Deneault E, Chaineau M, Nicouleau M, Castellanos Montiel MJ, Franco Flores AK, Haghi G, Chen CX, Abdian N, Shlaifer I, Beitel LK, Durcan TM. A streamlined CRISPR workflow to introduce mutations and generate isogenic iPSCs for modeling amyotrophic lateral sclerosis. Methods. 2022 Jul;203:297-310. doi: 10.1016/j.ymeth.2021.09.002.
  11. Chen CX, You Z, Abdian N, Sirois J, Shlaifer I, Tabatabaei M, Boivin MN, Gaborieau L, Karamchandani J, Beitel LK, Fon EA, Durcan TM. Generation of homozygous PRKN, PINK1 and double PINK1/PRKN knockout cell lines from healthy induced pluripotent stem cells using CRISPR/Cas9 editing. Stem Cell Res. 2022 Jul;62:102806. doi: 10.1016/j.scr.2022.102806.
  12. Bayati A, Banks E, Han C, Luo W, Reintsch WE, Zorca CE, Shlaifer I, Del Cid Pellitero E, Vanderperre B, McBride HM, Fon EA, Durcan TM, McPherson PS. Rapid macropinocytic transfer of α-synuclein to lysosomes. Cell Rep. 2022 Jul 19;40(3):111102. doi: 10.1016/j.celrep.2022.111102.
  13. Dorion MF, Yaqubi M, Murdoch HJ, Hall JA, Dudley R, Antel JP, Durcan TM, Healy LM. Systematic comparison of culture media uncovers phenotypic shift of primary human microglia defined by reduced reliance to CSF1R signaling. Glia. 2023 Jan 21. doi: 10.1002/glia.24338.
  14. Castellanos-Montiel MJ, Chaineau M, Franco-Flores AK, Haghi G, Carrillo-Valenzuela D, Reintsch WE, Chen CX-Q, Durcan TM. An Optimized Workflow to Generate and Characterize iPSC-Derived Motor Neuron (MN) Spheroids. Cells. 2023; 12(4):545.
  15. Cassel de Camps C, Mok S, Ashby E, Li C, Lépine P, Durcan TM, Moraes C. Compressive molding of engineered tissues via thermoresponsive hydrogel devices. Lab Chip. 2023 Mar 14. doi: 10.1039/d3lc00007a.
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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