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(Toronto – June 25, 2010) John Calarco, a PhD candidate co-supervised by Drs. Mei Zhen and Ben Blencowe, has received an exciting three-year research fellowship to Harvard University’s Center for Systems Biology, as part of the university’s Bauer Fellows program. 
Calarco is expected to conclude his PhD studies later this year, and will continue his focus on research conducted at the Lunenfeld and the University of Toronto’s Terrence Donnelly Centre for Cellular and Biomolecular Research since 2006. Calarco’s research has included investigations into how gene regulatory networks contribute to proper nervous system development and function.
“I'm very excited about the opportunity to initiate an independent research program so early on in my career,” said Calarco. “I feel that this fellowship will help me develop as a scientific investigator, and allow me to continue with the research that I am very passionate about that has been initiated here at Mount Sinai Hospital and the University of Toronto.”
With a more detailed molecular blueprint of how cells in the nervous system normally develop and function, Calarco’s research will ultimately further scientists’ understanding of how these networks are disrupted in psychiatric disorders like schizophrenia, depression and bipolar disorder, neurodegenerative diseases like ALS, and genetic disorders related to development of the nervous system.
“John has initiated several research projects independently in my lab that he will continue to develop as a fellow at Harvard University,” said Dr. Zhen. “His passion for research, success in his scientific career, and maturity has been a model for many junior trainees not only in my lab, but also in the Department of Molecular Genetics.”
Dr. Zhen’s lab is at the forefront of building a knowledge base for the brain development and function, an important tool for the field of neurobiology, and an essential knowledge base for the management of mental health and disease.
The Bauer program of Harvard University is a prestigious, highly competitive program that selects the most promising young scientists internationally, and helps its fellows develop new experimental techniques, apply existing and novel techniques to interesting biological problems, and develop new analytical and theoretical tools for converting genome-wide data into knowledge about biology. Bauer Fellows join the program from a variety of backgrounds, including biology, physics, chemistry, mathematics, computer science, and engineering.

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