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David Castillo

CSD Graduate Student

CSD Graduate Student - David Castillo

E-Mail: David Castillo


First Year Lab Rotations (BSP Program):

Rotation 1: Xiao-Jing Wang's Lab (2010): Dr. Wang’s laboratory focuses on the study of head & neck squamous cell carcinomas and one of the lab’s main research interest is understanding the molecular mechanisms of head & neck cancer including the properties of cancer stem cells. During my rotation I investigated how increased Sox2 expression in cancer stem cells promotes more aggressive growth and enhances metastasis behavior of tumors cells.

Rotation 2: Linda Barlow's Lab (2011): The Barlow lab research focuses on the development of the taste system and the cellular and molecular mechanisms that are essential for proper formation of this system; which is one of our basic senses and provides distinct information on the nutritional content and safety of ingested food. My rotation project consisted in investigating the postnatal fate of a novel taste cell present in embryonic taste papillae.

Rotation 3: Vivek Balasubramaniam's Lab (2011): Bronchopulmonary dysplasia (BPD) is a chronic lung disease that includes oxygen toxicity and mechanical ventilation of premature infants. To date the mechanisms that impair lung vascular and alveolar growth in BPD or those that enhance recovery are uncertain. During my rotation I study one mechanism of vascular growth using endothelial progenitor cells (EPCs) and the role that the Notch signaling pathway has in EPCs growth.

Thesis Advisor:   Linda Barlow

Honors and Awards:

  • Fullbright Scholar, 2008
  • Barsa Scholar, 2008
  • Member of Gamma Beta Phi National Honors Society and Golden Key International Honour Society


    Singh, M., Castillo, D., Patel, C. V., and Patel, R. C. (2011). Stress-Induced Phosphorylation of PACT Reduces Its Interaction with TRBP and Leads to PKR Activation. Biochemistry 50, 4550–4560.

    Prior Education:

    Masters of Science, Biotechnology, University of South Carolina, Columbia, SC, 2010.

    Bachelor of Science, Biology, University of Costa Rica, San Jose, Costa Rica, 2007.

    Why did you decide to pursue a Ph.D. in Cell Biology, Stem Cells and Development?

    The process that stem cells undergo to achieve differentiation intrigued me. By understanding the cascade of events that takes place, we aim to become capable of manipulating their destiny, redirecting them towards specific cell types. Though, my objectives stretch past stem cells to areas of microenvironment reproduction. The possibilities within this area of research are nearly limitless, further driving my desire to be at the interdisciplinary forefront of this dynamic field.

    Why did you choose CU's Anschutz Medical Campus?

    I chose CU’s Anschutz Medical Campus because is a unique collaborative environment, with a focus on diversity, a vibrant student body, interdisciplinary collaboration and with cutting edge laboratories and research facilities. I was confident that it would offer a profound unparalleled interdisciplinary training that would enable me to succeed as a graduate student and researcher. In addition, the opportunity that I would have to work and participate in research of nationally and internationally known scientists would help shape me as an individual and professional.

    What has been the biggest surprise to you since arriving at AMC?

    The interaction between faculty and students and the collaborations between different labs creates an amazing creative environment where different perspectives and novel solutions converge.

    Where did you grow up?

    Costa Rica

    When did you start the graduate program at Anschutz Medical Campus?

    Fall, 2010, as a Biomedical Sciences Program (BSP) student, and this past summer, 2011, as a CSD student.

    What do you do for fun?

    I like to play soccer, surfing/bodyboarding, snowboarding, running and several other sports. Also going out with friends and just having a good time.

    What do you like about living in Colorado?

    Outdoor sports (definitely snowboarding!). The music scene is great, as well as the diversity of people.

    What do you like about the Anschutz Medical Campus?

    First of all the people, they are friendly, open minded and easy to talk to. Also the installations are amazing and they are always thinking of expanding.