Careers inside academia 2016 speakers

Monday May 30th, 5:30PM

Panel discussion with faculty for trainees
Organizer: Melanie A Woodin

Alanna Watt, PhD

Alanna Watt is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Biology at McGill University. Trained as an electrophysiologist in the Turrigiano lab during her PhD at Brandeis University, USA, she studied homeostatic regulation of synaptic receptors by activity in cortical brain circuits. Following this, she pursued postdoctoral studies in the Häusser lab at UCL, UK, where she uncovered and characterized a novel early form of activity in the developing cerebellum. At McGill, Alanna contributes to teaching in several Neurobiology courses at both the Undergraduate and Graduate level, including a popular hands-on electrophysiology course for Undergraduate students.

Established in 2011, her lab uses electrophysiology, optogenetics, two-photon imaging, and behavioural analysis to address two major themes concerning circuit development and function. (1) Characterizing and understanding the role of early activity in the development of the cerebellar microcircuit; and (2) understand the pathophysiology contributing to mouse models of diseases such as ataxias that involve aberrations in cerebellar output. She supervises Graduate students, postdoctoral fellows and Undergraduate students in her lab, which is generously supported by funding from CIHR, NSERC, FRQNT, the Scottish Rite Foundation, and the ARSACS Foundation.

Karun Singh, PhD

Dr. Karun Singh is a new Investigator at the Stem Cell and Cancer Research Institute (SCCRI), and an Assistant Professor with the Department of Biochemistry and Biomedical Sciences at McMaster University. He holds the David Braley Chair in Human Stem Cell Research. Prior to starting his lab, Dr. Singh obtained his PhD from the University of Toronto where he examined neural circuit development in the peripheral nervous system. He then completed his postdoctoral training at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) where he studied psychiatric disorder risk genes and neurodevelopment using mouse models. Currently, Dr. Singh’s independent program at McMaster University employs a combination of mouse and patient-derived neural stem cell models to study newly identified genetic mutations in Autism. The goal of his program is to identify cellular and molecular abnormalities that cause disease and to use this knowledge to screen for new therapeutics. In this regard, he has established a Neurological Disease Platform at the SCCRI which uses animal and novel human cellular reprogramming technologies to derive patient-specific neural cells for high-throughput drug screening. This platform is being used to identify novel drugs for neurodevelopmental disorders (Autism), and being applied to neural injury models such as Neuropathy using high-throughput screening assays on human sensory neurons that are reprogrammed from peripheral blood.

Julie Lefebvre, PhD

Dr. Julie Lefebvre is a Scientist in the Neurosciences and Mental Health Program at The Hospital for Sick Children (SickKids). Her laboratory studies how nerve cells form specific patterns of neural connections that are essential for proper development and function of the nervous system. Her research will provide insights into how neural circuits assemble in the healthy brain, and how defects in these developmental pathways contribute to neurodevelopmental and brain disorders.

Dr. Lefebvre received her B.Sc. from McGill University. She earned her PhD at the University of Pennsylvania for her research on neuromuscular development in the laboratory of Dr. Michael Granato. For her postdoctoral training, she worked with Dr. Joshua Sanes at Harvard University to investigate molecular mechanisms of neuronal morphogenesis and circuit formation in the retina.  She joined SickKids in December 2013.

Tuan Tran, PhD

Assistant Professor, Faculty of Veterinary Medicine, Faculty of Medicine University of Calgary, Hotchkiss Brain Institute.

Dr. Trang obtained his BSc (Honours) and PhD degrees from Queen’s University. His doctoral training in Pharmacology and Toxicology focused on the effects of opioid drugs in the brain and spinal cord. He was then a CIHR Postdoctoral Fellow at the Hospital for Sick Children in Toronto, where he expanded his area of expertise into the study of chronic pain. Dr. Trang is currently an Assistant Professor in the Department of Comparative Biology and Experimental Medicine (Faculty of Veterinary Medicine) and the Department of Physiology and Pharmacology (Faculty of Medicine). He is also a full member of the Hotchkiss Brain Institute. Dr. Trang is the recipient of a CIHR New Investigator Award and he is a Rita Allen Foundation Scholar.