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Bosiljka Tasic, Ph.D.

Director, Molecular Genetics


Bosiljka Tasic joined the Allen Institute in 2011 as one of the founding members of the Mouse Cell Types program to establish methods for studying cell-type specific neuronal connectivity. She currently leads an effort toward comprehensive molecular analysis of neuronal identity in the mouse visual system. Before joining the Allen Institute, Bosiljka completed her postdoctoral training with Liqun Luo at Stanford University, where she developed molecular genetic techniques for labeling and manipulation of specific neuronal populations or single neurons in Drosophila and mice, and a new method for site-specific transgenesis in mice. Bosiljka received a Bachelor's degree in biochemistry from the University of Belgrade (once Yugoslavia, now Serbia), and a Ph.D. in biochemistry and molecular biology with Tom Maniatis at Harvard University, where she studied mechanisms of vertebrate-specific protocadherin gene expression in the nervous system and their role in neuronal identity.

Research Focus:

Mammalian nervous systems are composed of diverse neurons, some of which have been identified by one or more properties: specific shape, physiology or molecular signature. However, a consensus approach to neuronal classification does not exist, and the correlations of different types of neuronal properties with one another and neuronal function have not been systematically examined. Therefore, we still don't know how many different flavors of cellular building blocks comprise even relatively simple mammalian brains such as the mouse brain. At the Allen Institute, I am part of the Cell Types program, which aims to characterize and categorize neurons in mouse and human cortex. My team is approaching this question at the molecular level, by analyzing transcriptomes and epigenetic landscapes of individual neurons or defined neuronal populations, mostly in the mouse cortex. Through these efforts, we have discovered a number of specific genetic markers that we are now using to create tools for genetic access to specific cell types. We also collaborate with a number of other teams across the institute to establish multi-modal neuronal phenotyping and classification. In the long run, we hope our studies will reveal how molecular characteristics determine neuronal phenotypes, and how they have changed during mammalian evolution to produce species-specific neuronal types and functions.