Seminar – Alex Pollen, PhD – Topic: Studying Genetic Control of Human Brain Specializations and Vulnerabilities
April 29, 2022 @ 12:00 pm - 1:00 pm
Alex Pollen, PhD
University of California San Francisco
Lab website: pollenlab.org
About the Speaker: Over the last six million years, human cognition has changed in remarkable ways to support symbolic language, long-term planning, cooperation on vast scales, and the rapid cultural accumulation of technology. During this time, patterns of brain development and life history changed to triple the number of neurons produced prenatally, extend synaptic plasticity through a prolonged phase of development, and restructure connectivity between brain regions. At the same time tens of millions of mutations accumulated as fixed changes in the human genome through the processes of selection and drift. A portion of this new genomic information guides the development of uniquely human traits and contributes to disease vulnerabilities shared by all humans. However, connecting human-specific mutations to recently evolved traits remains a major challenge because we lack experimental systems for comparative and functional studies of great ape cortical development. To identify genomic differences underlying unique features or vulnerabilities of the human brain, we are incorporating advances in single cell genomics and genome engineering with great ape cerebral organoid models of brain development. We are enthusiastic for new graduate students to join the team, and the lab is well suited for those with an interest in evolution, neuropsychiatric disorders, neuronal cell diversity, stem cell models, or bioinformatics.
For Further Information or Zoom Participation
Contact: Clark Kellogg at firstname.lastname@example.org
The seminar series is funded by the John D. Wiley Conference Center Fund, the Friends of the Waisman Center and NIH grant U54 HD090256.