Solving the mysteries of bioscience
We are an independent nonprofit bioscience research institute aimed at unlocking the mysteries of human biology through foundational science.
Foundational Science Fuels Breakthroughs
We are leaders in large-scale research that transforms our understanding of human health and disease and shapes how science is conducted worldwide.
Inspiring Next-Generation Scientists
To us, open science extends to inspiring the next generation of scientists by supporting access to science resources, research, and experiences.
Understanding detailed brain organization – including its cell types, chemical/molecular nature, connections and parcellations – is an essential step to revealing the mechanisms underlying different brain functions and related diseases. As a neuroanatomist, I am interested in generating anatomical and molecular atlases for the developing and adult human and macaque brains. We use these atlases to guide our large-scale laser microdissection efforts at the Allen Institute. To create precise and detailed human brain reference atlases I use a combination of cellular and molecular markers in multiple cell types to identify the chemical characterization, molecular signature, and unique developmental changes of each target brain structure. So far we have created the first version of digital reference atlases for one adult and two prenatal human brains. Our ongoing effort is to generate reference atlases with more detailed parcellation of the entire human brain by adding fine cortical and subcortical subdivisions. Anatomical and molecular atlases of developing macaque brains provide exemplary models where there is very limited availability of human brains in various stages of development. To collect large-scale microarray data on macaque brain development we are now trying to define all layers of the visual, somatosensory and anterior cingulate cortices as well as subdivisions of the hippocampal formation, amygdala and basal ganglia at six stages of prenatal development. This dataset, together with the microarray data from prenatal human brains, will significantly fuel our understanding of human brain development and related disease. One of my future goals is to explore comparative neuroanatomy of human, monkey and rodent brains with emphasis on the visual and limbic structures. I aim to compare cell types and their molecular characterization, wiring circuits and developmental changes in different species in order to gain information on similarities and differences among these species. In addition, searching for mouse cortical homologues of human and macaque brains using molecular and connectional neuroanatomy would greatly facilitate the interactive use of the huge datasets created at the Allen Institute for mouse, macaque and human brains.