Understanding how the beautiful and immense complexity of the brain is built is an innately fascinating problem, but its solution will also provide answers to many problems of human health. The human brain comprises several hundred billion neurons, which are connected in precise neural circuits that underlie all brain functions. These circuits form during development when different classes of neurons are produced, positioned and wired together according to an intricate plan that is highly conserved among vertebrates. Our research seeks to understand how the brain is built and how deviations from the normal plan impact behaviour and cause disease. Without this knowledge, we can only hope that chance will lead us to new therapies for neurological and psychiatric disorders, which affect the lives of hundreds of millions of people worldwide.Our research encompasses neural stem cell manipulation, generation of brain organoids, structural and functional in vivo imaging, optogenetic manipulation of neural circuits, and mathematical and systems biology approaches to circuit assembly and function. Ongoing collaborations between basic and clinical researchers also allow the study of neurons derived from human patients with neurodevelopmental disorders. We take advantage of a large range of experimental approaches and model organisms, from worms to humans. The outstanding collaborative culture established here faciliates rapid progress through the synergistic effort of scientists with very diverse backgrounds and complementary skills.
Our research is organised around three broad programmes: