Our research

How is the brain assembled during embryonic development?

Addressing this question has enormous implications for understanding the basis for neurodevelopmental disorders affecting brain size and function, such as microcephaly, intellectual disability, and autism. In evolutionary terms, our newest brain structure is the cerebral cortex, which drives higher cognitive capacities that help define us as a species. Our research mission is to elucidate genetic and cell biological mechanisms controlling cerebral cortex development and contributing to neurodevelopmental pathologies and brain evolution. We ask fundamental questions in developmental neuroscience including:

  • How does post-transcriptional control shape cortical development and disease?
  • How does sub-cellular gene expression compartmentalize functions of cortical progenitors?
  • How do genetic and cellular mechanisms shape species-specific cortical development?

We apply a multi-faceted strategy to bridge developmental neurobiology, RNA biology and evolution. Our approaches including: mouse genetics, induced pluripotent stem cells, organoids, fixed and live imaging of brain slices and neural progenitors, and functional genomics. Read some of our recent publications in Development, Current Biology, Neuron, PLoS Genetics. Our research has been featured in several outlets including Science, the Simons Foundation, Spectrum news, and on NPR!

We strongly believe that science is strengthened by diverse perspectives. Our lab is committed to maintaining and promoting an environment of inclusion. We welcome all trainees inclusive of race, religion, gender identity, sexual orientation, nationality, age and disability. Please contact us if you are interested in joining our team!

Our research has been generously supported by:

  • NINDS, NIMH, NICHD, The DDX3X Foundation, The Hartwell Foundation, The Brain Research Foundation, The Ruth K. Broad Foundation, Generous funding from the Kahns and Holland-Trices, and the Duke Institute for Brain Sciences.
  • Additionally, our lab members have been awarded fellowships from: NINDS, NICHD, NSF, AHA, Duke Regeneration Next, The Ruth K. Broad Foundation, Burroughs Wellcome.

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