Research projects in the lab promote three main lines of investigation:
Developing a data-driven cellular taxonomy of the normal human brain
This project aims to define the molecular basis of cellular identity in the normal human brain. We perform large-scale, multivariate analyses of human brain transcriptomes to determine the affinities with which individual genes are expressed in distinct neurobiological cell types. The goal of these efforts is to generate mathematical models that can predict the cellular composition and gene activity of human brain samples, which will provide a data-driven framework for quantifying the cellular and molecular effects of diverse neuropathologies.
Elucidating biomarkers and mechanisms of gliomas and other brain cancers
This project aims to define the molecular basis of malignant cellular identity in gliomas and other human brain cancers. We integrate analysis of genetic, epigenetic, and transcriptional features from individual human brain tumors using novel subsampling and bioinformatic strategies. The goal of these efforts is to identify optimal biomarkers of malignant cells that are activated by driver mutations and vulnerable to therapeutic intervention.
Understanding species differences in brain development and function
This project aims to identify and characterize molecular distinctions between brain cells of humans and other species. We use computational strategies to identify transcriptional features that distinguish neurobiological cell types of humans and mice and perform functional studies to determine the consequences of these changes. The goal of this project is to shed light on the evolutionary events that gave rise to the modern human brain.