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Event Detail (Archived)

Unraveling Brain Development using Single-cell Technologies

The Nicholson Lecture

Event Details

Friday Lecture Series
Sten Linnarsson, Ph.D., professor, department of medical biochemistry and biophysics, Karolinska Institutet

In order to understand how the brain is computed from the genome, a minimum three key datasets need to be obtained: (1) an atlas of all adult cell types, defined by their gene expression, (2) the complete lineage tree, and (3) the spatial organisation of the embryo over time. Towards these goals, Dr. Linnarsson's group has developed single-cell RNA-seq and single-molecule RNA FISH and applied them to mouse and human nervous systems. They generated a draft cell atlas of the mouse nervous system, discovering several new astrocyte types with specific function, hundreds of neuron cell types and an invariant oligodendrocyte lineage. They observe convergent development of cell types from distinct lineages, a kind of endogenous reprogramming. In this lecture, Dr. Linnarsson will describe a new technique to directly observe dynamic branching lineages using static snapshots of developing tissue, thus enabling lineage reconstruction in the human brain.

Sten Linnarsson took his PhD in 2001, studying neurotrophic factors regulating neuronal survival, growth and plasticity. Instead of a postdoc, he founded a company to develop methods for gene expression analysis and single-molecule DNA sequencing. In 2007, he was appointed assistant professor and in 2015 Professor of Molecular Systems Biology at Karolinska Institute. He was awarded the 2015 Erik K. Fernström Prize for his work in single-cell biology.

Since 2007, Linnarsson has pursued single-cell biology with the ultimate aim to discover the complete lineage tree of the developing human nervous system. To achieve this goal, his group pioneered single-cell RNA sequencing, RNA single-molecule FISH, and advanced computational methods. He has made important contributions to single-cell technology: unique molecular identifiers (UMIs) for accurate quantification, Patch-seq for combined electrophysiology, morphology and transcriptomics, and more. In a series of recent papers he has used these methods to explore the mouse nervous system, including the dorsal root ganglion, the cortex, hippocampus, midbrain, and hypothalamus; in each case discovering previously unrecognized cell types displaying specific transcriptomic identities.

Justin Sloboda
(212) 327-7785
Open to
Richard Lifton, Ph.D.
Refreshments, 3:15 p.m. - 3:45 p.m., Abby Lounge
Justin Sloboda
(212) 327-7785

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