The Laboratory of Developmental Neurobiology (PI: Maya Shelly) aims to identify and characterize the key molecular and cellular signaling mechanisms that underlie embryonic development of the mammalian cerebral cortex.
The mammalian cerebral cortex underlies major cognitive functions such as learning, memory, perception, abstract thinking, and more. Developmental aberrations affecting this part of the brain play a key role in severe disorders such as mental retardation and autism spectrum disorders. The cerebral cortex is composed of billions of neurons divided into specific subpopulations. Early in embryonic development, the neuron establishes separate compartments of axon and dendrite and migrates to populate different regions of the developing cortex where it forms specific synaptic connections. Our goal is to identify and characterize the key molecular and cellular signaling mechanisms underlying embryonic cortical development, using multidisciplinary approaches that combine embryonic genetic manipulation, mouse genetics, biochemistry, material engineering, time-lapse microscopy, electrophysiology methodologies and behavioral studies.
By studying the mechanisms of these basic events in embryonic brain development, in a complementary line of research we aim to gain insight into severe human neurodegenerative disorders.