Genomic insights into human cortical development and neurodevelopmental disease

  • Life Sciences
Speaker Arnold Kriegstein, M.D., Ph.D.
University of California, San Francisco
Date & Time


Gerald D. Fischbach Auditorium
160 5th Avenue
New York, NY 10010 United States

Life Sciences

Life Sciences lectures bring together scientists and scholars to discuss diverse topics related to fundamental questions in biology. The lectures are open to the public and are held at the Gerald D. Fischbach Auditorium at the Simons Foundation headquarters in New York City. Tea is served prior to each lecture.

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On 1 February 2017, Arnold Kriegstein described recent advances in our understanding of the unique features of human cortical development and discussed insights into the origins of neurodevelopmental disorders.

His talk was part of the Simons Foundation Life Sciences lecture series.

About the Lecture

The developing human cortex contains a massively expanded outer subventricular zone, not found in rodents, that contains neural progenitor cells responsible for an evolutionary increase in cortical size and complexity. Transcriptome profiling of these cells has provided a novel model of primate corticogenesis and provided insights into lissencephaly (smooth brain syndrome) and microcephaly (smaller than normal brain size).

In this lecture, Arnold Kriegstein described recent advances in our understanding of the unique features of human cortical development. He also highlighted an evolutionary increase in the number of a specific subtype of neural stem cell, oRG cells, which in concert with their transit amplifying daughter cells, contributed to increased cortical size and complexity of the human brain. In addition, he discussed how mRNA sequencing of single human progenitor cells and immature cortical neurons led to a novel model of human cortical development and provided insights into the origins of neurodevelopmental disease.

About the Speaker

Arnold Kriegstein received his B.A. from Yale University and his M.D. and Ph.D. from New York University in 1977. He completed residency training in neurology at Harvard University and is a board-certified neurologist. He has held academic appointments at Stanford, Yale and Columbia. In 2004, he became the founding director of the Broad Stem Cell Center at the University of California, San Francisco. His research focuses on development of the embryonic human and mouse brain.

Past Lectures

How emotions shape our memories

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Director, Simons Foundation Neuroscience Collaborations
Leonard Mlodinow, Ph.D.Physicist and Author

Have you ever contemplated the difference between a feeling, a thought and a memory? And how do all these things fit together in making us who we are?

Leonard Mlodinow is a theoretical physicist and best-selling author. In his latest book, “Emotional: How Feelings Shape Our Thinking,” he unpacks the role emotions play in our thinking and mental well-being.

Kelsey Martin, director of the Simons Foundation Autism Research Initiative (SFARI) and the foundation’s neuroscience collaborations, has spent much of her career as a neuroscientist seeking to understand better how experiences change brain connectivity to store long-term memories.

What do we mean by ‘autism risk genes’?

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Professor, Psychiatry, Neuroscience, Genetics and Genomic Sciences
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Heather Mefford, M.D., Ph.D.
Full Member, St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital

David Ledbetter and Joseph Buxbaum discussed whether there are genes for which mutations confer risk specific to autism or whether these genes are really conferring general risk of disrupted brain development. The discussion was moderated by Heather Mefford.

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Federico Bolognani, Stuart Cobb, and Yael Weiss joined a panel to discuss new industry developments on the use of small molecules, gene therapy and antisense oligonucleotides as treatment approaches for autism spectrum disorders (ASD). The panel discussion was moderated by Randall Carpenter.

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