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Molecular and Optical Tools for Mapping Mammalian Genome and Brain

July 28, 2023 @ 11:30 am - 12:30 pm

Speaker: Rongxin Fang, Ph.D.

Postdoc Fellow

Chemistry and Chemical Biology

Harvard University


Time: 11:30 AM – 12:30 PM (PST)
Date: July 28, 2023
Location: Zoom – Register here for the zoom link


Abstract: The human brain is enormously complex, containing hundreds of billions of cells and perhaps thousands of distinct types. A fundamental question is how the cellular and functional complexity of the brain arises from an essentially identical genome. Addressing this challenge requires the development of new tools to understand how factors at multiple levels — from molecular to cellular, from neuronal activity to brain connectivity — work together to produce specific brain functions. In this talk, I will describe single-cell sequencing, transcriptome imaging, and neuronal recording tools to achieve measurements of the genome and brains at each of these levels, both in vivo and ex vivo. I will provide a detailed description of the molecular tools I developed during my Ph.D. in Bing Ren’s Lab to study how cis-regulatory elements, such as enhancers within each cell type, encode the gene expression program. Furthermore, I will discuss my postdoctoral work in Xiaowei Zhuang’s lab, where I conducted spatially resolved genome-wide transcriptome imaging to investigate how gene expression and spatial organization in the mammalian brain change during evolution. I discovered that the most striking cross-species difference lies in the glia-neuron interactions, which may represent a possible evolutionary adaptation to the higher-order functioning of the human brain.


About speaker: Dr. Rongxin Fang is a postdoc from Xiaowei Zhuang’s lab at Harvard University.

Dr. Fang’s work showcases how computational principles are critical and powerful in the application of biological studies, both in analysis of complex datasets and in the design of experiments. During his grad school, he developed a popular software, SnapATAC, for the analysis of single-cell ATAC-seq data, a popular assay increasingly used by biologists to ask broad questions related to genomics and epigenetics. More recently as a postdoc, he improved and applied MERFISH, a powerful imaging assay that adopted information theory in experimental design to measures spatial distribution of gene expression in tissues, to investigate the anatomy and molecular diversity of the mouse and human brain.


July 28, 2023
11:30 am - 12:30 pm

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