Nervous System Diseases

Paola Arlotta, PhD

Paola Arlotta, PhD

Harvard Department of Stem Cell and Regenerative Biology

During embryonic development, neural progenitors undergo precise differentiation to generate the amazing variety of neuronal types that ultimately populate the mature brain. While some of the basic mechanisms that control general aspects of progenitor specification into neurons have been defined, the genetic programs that control the differentiation of distinct types of neurons in the brain are still largely unknown.

Susan Dymecki, MD, PhD

Susan Dymecki, MD, PhD

Harvard Medical School

The step-by-step differentiation of embryonic cells into different types of neurons lays the foundation for our sensory responses, motor commands, and cognitive behaviors. Our research explores such differentiation programs in mammals using a combination of genetic, embryological, and molecular biological methods. While the generation of such neural diversity is a complex process culminating in the most sophisticated of wiring circuits, one simplifying approach is to start by tracking the specification, differentiation, and migration paths taken by specific sets of cells originating from primitive neuroectoderm.