MAR 11, 2020 3:00 PM PDT

PANEL: Anatomical Characterization of Neuron Cell Types in the Mouse Brain

Presented at: Neuroscience 2020
C.E. Credits: P.A.C.E. CE Florida CE
  • University Professor, Bioengineering Department, Volgenau School of Engineering, Neuroscience Program, Krasnow Institute for Advanced Study, Founding Editor-in-Chief, Neuroinformatics
      Dr. Giorgio A. Ascoli received a Ph.D. in Biochemistry and Neuroscience from the Scuola Normale Superiore of Pisa, Italy, and continued his research at the National Institutes of Health in Bethesda, MD, to investigate protein structure and binding in the nervous system. He moved to the Krasnow Institute for Advanced Study at George Mason University in 1997, where he is University Professor in the Bioengineering Department and Neuroscience Program. He is also founder and Director of the Center for Neural Informatics, Structures, & Plasticity, a transdisciplinary research group that includes biologists, physicists, psychologists, computer scientists, mathematicians, engineers, and physicians. Dr. Ascoli is founding Editor-in-Chief of the journal Neuroinformatics and an editorial board member of several other international journals. He serves on the advisory board of numerous scientific organizations and is Past President of the Potomac Chapter of the Society for Neuroscience. Dr. Ascoli contributed to the establishment of the fields of computational neuroanatomy and neuroinformatics. His own laboratory investigates the relationship between brain structure, activity, and function from the cellular to the circuit level. In the long term, Dr. Ascoli seeks to create large-scale, anatomically plausible neural networks to model entire portions of a mammalian brain, such as the hippocampus. Dr. Ascoli's interests also involve human memory and consciousness.
    • Professor of Neurology, Physiology & Neuroscience, Director, Center for Integrative Connectomics, USC Mark and Marry Stevens Neuroimaging & Informatics Institute, Keck School of Medicine, USC
        Dr. Hong-Wei Dong M.D., Ph.D., graduated from medical school in China then received both doctoral and postdoctoral training as a neuroanatomist in Larry Swanson's laboratory at the University of Southern California (USC). He was a founding scientist of the Allen Institute for Brain Sciences in 2004, where he made seminal contributions to the brain-wide gene expression mapping project-the Allen Brain Atlas project (ABA). Dr. Dong constructed the flagship Allen Reference Atlas (Dong, Wiley, 2008)-a standard mouse brain atlas that was used as the backbone of the ABA informatics and gene mapping project. Dr. Dong joined UCLA as Assistant Professor in 2006 and established The Mouse Connectome Project (MCP,, a pioneering large-scale brain mapping project with the aim of creating a three-dimensional, Google Earth-like, digital Connectome atlas of the C57BL/6J mouse brain. To date, the MCP is an essential open resource for the broader neuroscientific community accessed by investigators worldwide. In 2013, Dr. Dong transitioned to USC and currently is Professor of Neurology, Physiology & Neuroscience as the founder and Director of the USC Center for Integrative Connectomics (CIC, - comprised of neuroanatomists, computer scientists, and web programmers with cross-functional skillsets to facilitate the CIC's unique, interdisciplinary approach to computational neuroanatomy. He serves as an ad hoc reviewer for many neuroscience journals, including Cell, Nature Neuroscience, Nature Methods, Nature Communications, Neuron, Journal of Comparative Neurology, etc. He currently leads and participates in multiple NIH-funded projects within the BRAIN Initiative Cell Census Network (BICCN), focused on anatomical characterization of neuronal cell types of the complete mouse brain. Dr. Dong intends to construct the whole brain wiring diagram in order to understand structural and functional organizational principles of the mammalian brain.
      • Assistant Professor, Division of Biological Sciences, Neurobiology, University of California, San Diego
          Dr. Lim received a Ph.D. in Neurobiology from University of California, Berkeley, and continued to pursue his research in Stanford University to investigate the neural circuity mechanisms underlying mental disorders. Then, he move to University of California, San Diego as a professor of the Division of Biological Sciences in 2013. He is a recipient of several prestigious awards including NIMH Biobehavioral Research Awards for Innovative New Scientists (BRAINS), Searle Scholar Fellowship, Kingenstein-Simons Fellowship, BBRF Daniel X Freedman Award for Exceptional Basic Research, and so on. He serves as an ad hoc reviewer for scientific journals including Cell, Nature, Nature Neuroscience, Neuron and so on, as well as NIH study sections. His laboratory focuses to understand the neural circuit-mechanisms underlying neuropsychiatric diseases including drug addiction, feeding disorder, depressive disorder, social impairment and movement disorder. To address the anatomical and functional properties of neural circuitry involved in these mental disorders, his laboratory applies and develops a variety of molecular strategies together with electrophysiological approaches. Furthermore, his lab has been a leading group in applying cell-type specific or input-specific optogenetic manipulation in vitro and in vivo in pharmacological animal models of human disease.


        Identifying the diversity of neuronal cell types of the nervous system is one of the main objectives of the BRAIN Initiative, with the vision that distinct neuronal identities will allow for their selective manipulation and reveal their functional contributions in health and disease. However, identifying all the cell types of the mammalian brain is not a trivial undertaking and is hindered by the fact that a satisfactory definition of neuronal cell type is nonexistent, with terms like “class”, “subclass”, “type”, and “subtype” often used interchangeably without proper definition. As part of the BICCN (BRAIN Initiative Cell Census Network), we have developed a practical, robust, and multi-pronged workflow to systematically classify projection neuron types based on their precise anatomical location, long-range connectivity, input/output organization, and detailed neuronal morphology. These connectivity-based neuronal classification strategies can be integrated or validated with other cell type specific information, such as molecular identities (mRNA expression, epigenomics, or genetic labeling), electrophysiological properties, and functional specificities. In this panel presentation, Dr. Hong-Wei Dong will present our recent progress of constructing a whole mouse brain wiring diagram, which lays an anatomical frame for characterizing neuronal cell types. Dr. Giorgio Ascoli will present our progress of developing informatics tools to reconstruct, analyze, and present cell type-specific morphology and a novel shotgun projectome strategy. Dr. Byungkook Lim will present our effort of developing cutting edge tracing technologies to dissect cell type- and projection- specific neural circuits.

        Learning Objectives:

        1. Constructing a whole-brain wiring diagram

        2. Anatomical characterization of neuron cell types based on anatomical locations, projection targets, and neuronal morphology

        3. Genetically dissect cell type-specific neural circuits

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