Gabriella Boulting earned a Ph.D. in biochemistry in the laboratory of Kevin Eggan in the Stem Cell and Regenerative Biology Department at Harvard University, where she focused on the application of human pluripotent stem cells (PSCs) to study neurogenerative disease. She developed methods to produce human spinal motor neurons in vitro, generated a vetted panel of human PSC lines for in vitro amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) disease modeling and uncovered disease phenotypes in motor neurons derived from induced PSCs from individuals with ALS.
For her postdoctoral training, under the mentorship of Michael Greenberg in the Department of Neurobiology at Harvard Medical School, Boulting used human stem cell, rodent and non-human primate models of sensory-dependent neurodevelopment to discover primate-specific neuronal activity-regulated genes and expression patterns, the evolved DNA enhancer sequences required for their expression and their effect on neuronal development. By using single-cell technologies, quantitative genomic profiling and classic biochemical and cellular techniques, she recently completed the first epigenomic study of neuronal activity-dependent changes in human neurons and discovered autism spectrum disorder (ASD) heritability enrichment unique to activity-inducible gene promoters.
Boulting will use human stem cell and non-human primate models to dissect the function of novel, primate-specific, neuronal activity-dependent gene expression as it relates to ASD heritability. In addition, she plans to explore the diversity and evolution of cellular responses to neuronal activity in the primate brain in vivo using multimodal single-nucleus transcriptomic and epigenetic profiling technologies. Boulting hopes to uncover new categories of neuromodulatory pathways specific to primates, thereby revealing fundamental insights that will reshape our understanding of the human brain.