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Dr. Gian Carlo Molina-Castro is a neuroscientist, strategist, and educator at Johns Hopkins University, where he has served as the Strategy and Operations Manager of PHutures and Senior PHutures Fellow since 2021. In his role, he works closely with the Executive Director of Doctoral and Postdoctoral Career Design to design and implement the strategic plan of the office, and manage the operational functions, including allocating resources effectively to achieve our strategic goals.
Throughout his tenure at PHutures, Gian has led a number of successful initiatives, including award-winning and internationally attended career conferences, data-driven hiring events, and career education curriculums. He has also been a frequent speaker at various universities and national conferences, where he shares his expertise on topics such as skill-building, career preparation, graduate education, and diversity and inclusion.
During his graduate studies at Hopkins, Gian led Project Bridge, the largest science education and communication student organization, and was an active participant at the Johns Hopkins Graduate Consulting Club. He also served as a member of the Doctor of Philosophy Board, which advises the Provost on graduate education issues and policies, and approves and reviews Ph.D. programs across the nine schools.
In addition, Gian is a strong advocate and proponent for diversity, equity, and inclusion at the student, faculty, and career services levels. Since 2020, he has led the strategy, execution, and implementation of the Passport to Future Technology Leadership program (PFTL). Funded by the Provost’s Office, PFTL is a 2-year career exploration, professional development, and mentoring cohort-based program for Ph.D. students from underrepresented backgrounds university-wide.
Gian has been recognized for his work with several prestigious awards, including the inaugural 2021 JHU Career Impact Award and the 2021 JHU Diversity Recognition Award. In 2022, he was one of five JHU Ph.D. candidates inducted into the Edward Bouchet Graduate Honor Society, which recognizes outstanding scholarly achievement and promotes diversity and excellence in doctoral education. As a neuroscientist, he is an expert in glial biology and his scholarship has focused on studying cellular dynamics during cortical demyelination and remyelination in animal models of multiple sclerosis.
Gian loves exploring the intersection of education, business and personal/professional development. Throughout his career, this have led him to create a non-profit organization to provide educational services to disadvantaged communities, start a CPR training business, work in higher education administration in compliance, marketing/admissions and human resources and be teaching assistant of several undergraduate and graduate level courses. In addition, he has advised local minority-owned small businesses through JHU’s Graduate Consulting Club.
Gian obtained a Ph.D. in Neuroscience from Johns Hopkins in 2023 and a B.S. in Cellular/Molecular Biology from the University of Puerto Rico, Rio Piedras Campus in 2018. In addition, he obtained a Professional Certificate in Non-Profit Management from the University of Puerto Rico, Mayagüez Campus in 2015, and in Human Resources Management from the Ana G Mendez University in 2022.
His doctoral thesis focused on studying the dynamics of oligodendrocyte degeneration and regeneration in the mouse cerebral cortex in two animal models of multiple sclerosis, one of which he developed during his tenure in the Laboratory of Dwight's Bergles at Johns Hopkins University. He was awarded the NSF Graduate Research Fellowship to fund this project for three years.
During his undergraduate studies, he worked in Dr. Carmen Maldonado-Vlaar’s lab studying the role of the endocannabinoid system in mediating the anxiolytic effects of oxytocin in a cocaine conditioning paradigm. He was awarded a NIH BP-ENDURE Fellowship (NeuroID) to fund this project for two years. In the summer of 2016, Gian participated in a research internship in Dr. Heath Schmidt’s lab at the University of Pennsylvania where he studied the role of glucagon-like peptide 1 (GLP-1) receptors in cocaine addiction, demonstrating that a GLP-1 receptor agonist attenuates cocaine seeking dose-dependently. After returning from this internship, he joined Dr. Manuel Diaz’s lab at the Institute of Neurobiology (UPR) where they published for the first time the existence of adenosine and dopamine (A1-D1) heteromeric complexes in spinal motoneurons and its role in mediating the psychostimulant effects of caffeine. In the summer of 2017, he participated in a research internship in Dr. Dwight Bergles’ lab at Johns Hopkins University studying the spatial and temporal dynamics of oligodendrocytes in the cortex after a demyelinating injury.
He has presented his work at more than 20 conferences in Puerto Rico, United States and Europe.
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