We develop and deploy cutting-edge molecular techniques to more deeply understand the function of cellular specialization in the nervous system. In particular, we seek clear, actionable explanations for how the cells of the brain go awry in major mental illness.

New technologies

We recently developed Drop-seq, a technology for high-throughput gene expression analysis. Using droplet microfluidics and a novel DNA barcoding scheme, we are able to obtain transcriptome-wide data on tens of thousands of cells in simple, routine experiments.  We are interested in ways to:
1) Enhance and augment Drop-seq’s ability to report gene expression
2) Combine Drop-seq expression read-outs with additional measurements of cellular function (e.g. connectivity, spatial relationships, and electrical activity).

We accomplish these technology goals with creative molecular biology, microfluidics, and chemistry.

Novel biology

Our ability to routinely and easily transcriptionally profile tens of thousands of brain cells has opened exciting opportunities in neurobiology.  We are using this information-rich readout of cellular and tissue function to explore how cell types and states change in contexts relevant to neuropsychiatric disease, including identifying the sites of action of pharmacological agents whose mechanisms are poorly understood, and characterizing the biological impact of disease-relevant genetic variation.