We study development of the embryonic cerebral cortex, the structure in our brains which controls higher cognitive function. In the developing cerebral cortex, neurons are produced from neural progenitors during a process called neurogenesis. The predominant progenitors are radial glia cells (red). These progenitors undergo symmetric divisions to self-renew and asymmetric divisions to generate differentiated cells including neurons (blue) and intermediate progenitors (green). Defects in progenitor division can impact production of neurons and ultimately the size and function of the brain.
We are studying the following research questions?
- Which genetic changes gave rise to human specific brain traits?
- What genes regulate brain development and cause neurodevelopmental disorders?
- What influences asymmetric cell division in the developing brain?
Here about our recent work on enhancers in brain evolution, with an interview on NPR!
We tackle these complex questions using multidisciplinary approaches which include imaging of live brain slices and neural progenitors, genetics, and functional genomics.