Alysson Renato Muotri, Ph.D.

Title
Assistant Professor
Department
Division of Genetics
Institution
University of California, San Diego
Address
9500 Gilman Drive 0695
City, State, Zip
La Jolla, CA 92093
Country
United States
E-mail
amuotri[at]ucsd.edu
Website
www.muotri.ucsd.edu
Research Field
Neuroscience
Award Year
2002
Country Of Origin
Brazil
Mentor Name
Fred H. Gage, Ph.D.

Research

The complexity of the human brain, with thousands of neuronal types, permits the development of sophisticated behavioral repertoires, such as language, tool use, self-awareness, symbolic thought, cultural learning and consciousness. From such dynamic complexity emerged extraordinary technological and artistic masterpieces in a relatively short cultural history. Moreover, brain complexity has a creative purpose. Understanding what produces neuronal diversification during brain development has been a longstanding challenge for neuroscientists and may bring insights on the evolution of human cognition.

Our laboratory proposes to explore mobile elements as generators of diversity during neuronal differentiation, challenging the concept of “junk DNA”. These mobile elements may be part of a conserved core process responsible for evoking facilitated complex non-random phenotypical variation in which selection may act. We use neural stem cells, human pluripotent cells and several molecular tools to investigate fundamental mechanisms of brain development and mental disorders. Key Words: Stem cells, Brain development, Mobile Elements, CNS evolution