The neurons forming our brain are produced from neural stem cells during embryonic development. Stem cells and neurons must be produced at the right time, place and sequence for the brain to achieve its correct size and architecture. This spatio-temporal coordination is of particular interest when placed into clinical context, as changes in the composition, size and complexity of the neural stem cell pool are associated with human neurodevelopmental disorders.
The aim of my research is to discover the cellular and molecular logic behind human brain development and synaptogenesis in health, disease and evolution. I will do so by using a multidisciplinary approach combining high-throughput robotics with developmental neuroscience, single cell multi-omics and cell biology.
I will follow tree main directions:
- Stem cells meet robotics. To obtain an integrated and wholistic definition of cells identity in brain development, I will develop a fully automated robot for single cell manipulation and multi-modal analysis of neural stem cells and neurons in primary brain tissue and human brain organoids.
- Stem cell identity in brain development. I will study how basic cell biological processes taking place inside the cell influence neural stem cells behaviour and brain development in health and disease. I will focus on polarity and polarity-generating organelles.
- Time and the cell biology of neurons. We are interested in studying the role of time in the fine tuning of synaptogenesis and neuronal function in evolution and in human disease.