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Gian C. Molina Castro is pursuing a Ph.D. in Neuroscience at Johns Hopkins University, School of Medicine and has research experience in behavioral pharmacology, drug addiction and glial biology. Interested in understanding the role of glial cells in mediating long-lasting effects of marijuana. He obtained a B.S. in Cellular/Molecular Biology from the University of Puerto Rico (UPR), Rio Piedras in March 2018. Gian also obtained a Professional Certificate in Non-Profit Management from the UPR, Mayagüez in 2015.
Outside the lab, Gian is part of Project Bridge, a graduate student-led organization focused on connecting scientists to the general Baltimore community, among other Departmental and School-level committees. Beyond neuroscience and scientific outreach, Gian is also interested in strategic management, finance and entrepreneurship.
He was a BLS Instructor at the Universidad Central del Caribe from 2014 to 2018, certifying health professionals and community in general in CPR and First Aid. Also, he has been Audit Assistant, Admissions and Marketing Assistant and Continuing Education Instructor at ICPR Junior College. He was President and Founder of Genios del Futuro, Inc., a non-profit organization dedicated to offer free educational services in Caimito, San Juan, PR. At the UPR-Rio Piedras, he was part of the Executive Board of the Rotaract Club and the first Vice-President of the National Neuroscience Student Association. In addition, he has collaborated with NeuroBoricuas in the “Explora tu cerebro en las San Se’” initiative to increase neuroscience awareness and engage children to learn more about the brain.
As a Neuroscience PhD student at Johns Hopkins, he is currently studying how THC exposure during adolescence affect astrocytes and developmental myelination in Dr. Dwight Bergles’ lab. Also, he was selected to attend the 2019 International Astrocyte School in Bertinoro, Italy.
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.
As part of his undergraduate training, Gian was selected to participate in the Quantitative Biology Workshop at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT, 2017) and the Immunohistochemistry & Microscopy Course of the Marine Biological Laboratory (MBL, 2016). He has presented his work in multiple local and national conferences, including Society for Neuroscience, ABRCMS, Experimental Biology and Leadership Alliance National Symposium.
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