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Brain Development

UC Santa Cruz Haussler & DANSER Labs

UCSF Pollen Lab

UCSF Nowakowski (NOW) Lab

The Braingeneers

A Project of the UC Santa Cruz Genomics Institute

The Braingeneers are a team of UCSF and UC Santa Cruz researchers using a cross-disciplinary and collaborative approach to apply their experience working on the Human Genome Project, its understanding of comparative genomics and primate brain development to model neural activity. The collaboration is helping the team learn how the human brain evolved, how the brain develops and how to harness its power.

The team is experimenting with cerebral organoids — lab-grown tissues that resemble embryonic brain tissues. The team is applying modern artificial intelligence (AI) approaches to uncover exactly how genetic changes during primate evolution enhanced the brain’s architecture and computing capacity. This has already provided an unprecedented window into brain development.

The team is also developing and experimenting with scalable systems to study the behavior of neural circuits. This experimentation will allow the team to compare machine and biological learning in profound new way, with the hope of ultimately teaching humanity important lessons about both.