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A research platform to study animal and human cellular models of neurological disorders

Principal Investigator:
  • Karun Singh, McMaster University
Team Members:
  • Mick Bhatia, McMaster University
  • Kristin Hope, McMaster University
  • Sheila Singh, McMaster University
  • Eva Szabo, McMaster University
  • Stem Cell and Cancer Research Institute at McMaster University

Project Overview

Neurological diseases including neurodegenerative, neurodevelopmental, and psychiatric disorders are collectively one of the leading causes of disability to the Canadian population. This poses a significant emotional and economic burden to patients, and a major strain to the Canadian healthcare system. One of the major reasons for this is due to the lack of available effective drug therapies that treat the underlying causes. To make progress towards this problem, it is imperative to identify and validate molecular targets for novel drug therapeutic development. Dr. Karun and his collaborative group at McMaster University are harnessing the power of mouse models to understand the dysfunctional neural circuits using a living brain. They have also developed human neural cellular models, which will be used to study disease-related pathophysiological mechanisms in patient cells, which is ethically impossible to study in living patients. By utilizing both mouse and human neural models, the team is well positioned to move novel discoveries between these systems to determine their reproducibility and validity. To accelerate discoveries, they have established a dedicated research platform at the Stem Cell and Cancer Research Institute (SCCRI). This platform consists of cellular electrophysiology with upgraded calcium imaging, confocal microscopy with upgraded spectral imaging, cell banking equipment for patient samples, and a centralized data management system. Through their Brain Canada platform grant they will employ two highly skilled technicians who collaborate with members of the user group. They will also upgrade the electrophysiology and confocal imaging platform which will significantly streamline experimental protocols, improve research productivity and collaboration, and will lead to increased understanding of disease pathology and new molecular biomarkers/signatures of disease. They will also interface the platform equipment with a Laboratory Information Management (LIM) system, which establishes a central location for user labs to store and manage data.