John Castorino

Assistant Professor of Molecular Biology
John Castorino
Contact John

Mail Code NS
John Castorino
Cole Science Center 203A
413.559.6239

John Castorino received his B.S. in biology from Ursinus College and Ph.D. in cell and developmental biology from Thomas Jefferson University.

His current research focus is examining the intracellular trafficking of the cancer-related protein CD147 and a family of monocarboxylate transporters. Due to the excellent work of his students, a new trafficking partner of CD147 has recently been identified. His other research interests include messenger RNA stability, microRNAs, and other gene expression regulation mechanisms.

He has advised students on a wide array of projects such as generating neurons in tissue culture from stem cells, making stem cells from somatic cells, cricket epigenetics, and biological animation. Outside of the laboratory, his interests lie in electronics, art, and zymurgy.

Recent and Upcoming Courses

  • Cancer is currently the second largest cause of death in the United States. One would think that science would have developed a cure for cancer by now, but it hasn't. Why is developing treatment options so difficult? This course will address the biology of malignancy and treatment including some traditional and cutting-edge strategies. We will uncover the truth behind cancer misconceptions and explore some of the ethical and social justice considerations of disease research (including some of the darker examples from cancer research's past). We will also work in the laboratory a little to study cancer first-hand. Students will develop skills in reading primary literature, writing papers, and performing presentations. Keywords:Cancer, biomedical research, ethics

  • Cells are the foundation of all life. The structures and processes inside cells determine how life functions (or dysfunctions). We will discover what is known about how cells work through a combination of primary literature, laboratory research, and textbook readings. We will also discuss what is still not known and how scientists work to find the answers. The class structure will be divided into one day of lecture (which students will typically be responsible for performing), one day of problem set review, and laboratory work. Students will maintain cultures of mammalian cells during the entire semester and perform various experiments on these cells. Students will design and complete their own cell-based experiments towards the end of the semester. KEYWORDS:Cell Biology with Laboratory

  • The COVID-19 pandemic has created divisions in society regarding the origins of the virus, the best response to the pandemic, and the difference between truth and belief. How did drugs like ivermectin and hydroxychloroquine come to reside in the middle of these divides? We will explore drug discovery and mechanisms of action. We will also explore the disconnect between how information is disseminated among scientists versus information flow through greater society. Each student will choose one drug to explore in detail over the course of the semester. Students will be responsible for participation in class discussions, two presentations, small weekly writing assignments, and one final paper. Keywords: biomedical research, pharmacology, diseases, media

  • This introductory laboratory-intensive course will explore the process of doing scientific research in a molecular biology lab (which is relevant to many fields of science including neuroscience and other types of biomedical research). Students will learn numerous techniques in the lab, including DNA isolation, PCR, gel electrophoresis, restriction enzyme digests, cloning, and basic microscopy. Students will engage in a semester-long laboratory research project within a cancer biology gene cloning context. Students will perform protocols, collect and analyze data, and report their conclusions in written and oral formats. This course is intended for students with little or no experience in a molecular biology lab, and it will prepare students for other laboratory courses such as Cell Biology. Students must be able to come into the laboratory to complete work 10-12 hours per week in the laboratory including coming in outside of class time. Keywords: laboratory, genetic engineering, cloning, neuroscience,cancer

  • No description available

  • Genetically modified organisms. Human-machine neural interfaces. Designer babies. Personalized medicine. Gene therapy. Synthetic organisms. Society is at an interesting intersection where some of these technologies are commonplace and some are at the early stages of being implemented. We will cover the science, history, and ethics surrounding these (and other) technologies that may change what defines humanity of the future. Over the course of the semester, students will invent new biotechnologies to address issues that are important to them. Key Words: Biotechnology, Medical Technology, Neuroscience, Cellular Biology, Molecular Biology

  • The structures and processes inside human cells determine how we function (or dysfunction) in the world, and yet they were only discovered in the last few hundred years. We will discover what is known about how they work through a combination of primary literature, laboratory research, and textbook. We will also discuss what is still not known and how scientists work to find the answers. Key Words: Biotechnology, Medical Technology, Neuroscience, Cellular Biology, Molecular Biology