A critical challenge in understanding the intricate programs underlying development, assembly and dysfunction of the human brain is the lack of direct access to intact, functioning human brain tissue for detailed investigation by imaging, recording, and stimulation.
Dr. Sergiu Pasca's lab is using pluripotent stem cells derived non-invasively from human individuals to generate in a dish specific regions of the human brain in a functional 3D preparation they have developed. They are using months-to-years long ‘brain-a-dish’ cultures (also known as brain region-specific organoids or spheroids) to understand how neurons find their final position in the brain and how they mature functionally. To investigate how different brain regions talk to each-other in normal and diseased states, Dr. Pasca's lab introduced a new approach for in vitro assembly of neural circuits, also known as assembloids.
The Pasca lab employs state-of-the-art stem cell biology, genome engineering, imaging and neuroscience approaches to identify the dynamical processes that go awry in neural cells derived from patients with neuropsychiatric disorders, such as autism or schizophrenia, and what should be therapeutically targeted in these conditions.