Our research looks to understand the genetic and epigenetic mechanisms underlying several neurodevelopmental disorders caused by genetic and environmental factors.
We are addressing this challenge by harnessing a cohort of human induced pluripotent stem cells (iPSC) and differentiating them into relevant lineages: First, an optimized version of the fast induction of functional glutamatergic neurons by the induced expression of neurogenin-2 (NGN2), which allows us to identify morphological, transcriptomic and electrophysiological signatures inherent to mature neurons. Second, we differentiate patterned neocortical spheroids, which allow us to recapitulate different stages of early human brain development, including cell populations unique to the human brain in a 3-dimensional structure, thus gaining cellular and molecular insights with a higher physiological accuracy than similar alternatives. Third a small molecule-driven approach to generate neural crest cells.
We investigate the impact of the genetic and environmental insults by means of several "omics" approaches at a bulk and single cell levels, as well high throughput imaging and functional assays from representative pools of progenitor and mature cells.