We aim to explore how the nervous system is formed, from early embryonic stages through adulthood. How do cells acquire specific neuronal identities, migrate to defined regions and connect with defined targets to form a functional brain? During development of the nervous system, a diverse array of neuronal and glial subtypes is generated. These neuronal subtypes are defined by their unique features such as morphology, neurotransmitter identity and physiological and biochemical characteristics. Different neuronal types develop complex and precise patterns of connections and organize into defined circuits. The normal function of the mature nervous system depends on normal development of these features.
To study the development of the nervous system, we combine research ranging from model organisms such as worms and mice, to humans. We integrate a wide range of techniques such as molecular biology, cell biology, advanced imaging, biochemistry, genomics, bioinformatics and physiology. We focus on gene discovery and advanced genetics to understand the molecular mechanisms underpinning brain development, in the context of a developing living organism. The stages of neural development range from embryonic neural induction to circuit formation and plasticity in adults. Studying development is not only important for understanding how complex structures are assembled, but also for characterizing and treating developmental disorders and how deviations from the normal plan lead to disease.