Connectomics & Cell Types

Welcome to the Charvet laboratory for developmental neuroscience!

Welcome to the Charvet laboratory for developmental neuroscience! Our research is focused on integrating high-through-put methods in neuroimaging and sequencing to translate time across species and to develop new tools to better study connections in health, in disease, and across species. We are especially focused on integrating diffusion MR tracrography with transcription. Cutting across scales of organization will enhance our ability to study pathways of the human brain and bridge the gap between model systems and humans.

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Our innovation is to cut across connectomic and transcriptomic scales to enhance the study of connections in the human brain. We have recently published studies showcasing the power of this approach in studying the evolution and development of connections across species. We are excited to see that our approach is increasingly recognized as a powerful way to study the evolution and development of the human brain.

 

We published the first study that integrates diffusion MR tractography with transcription to study the evolution and development of connections in the human brain. This paper, which was published in Cerebral Cortex in 2020, is also the first study from the lab! It’s available here.

 

While the lab was getting set up, I collected structural and transcriptional information to find corresponding ages across the lifespan in humans and chimpanzee. The study of chimpanzee brain development and aging is clouded by difficulty in sample acquisition and quality.  Integrating across scales overcomes many of the existing limitations linked to human and non-human primate brain evolution research and provides a rigorous approach with which to compare brain development and aging in humans and chimpanzees. The preprint is available here. The study addresses the following question but for a chimpanzee of any age!

Monkey Meme

The importance of integrating across connectomic and transcriptomic scales is summarized here.

 

Some past work:

Here are some additional recent studies. Although they do not directly integrate across scales, they are pretty cool. They are from my training in neuroimaging at Harvard Medical School and genetics at Cornell University. It was all part of a long-term plan to cut across scales to enhance the study the evolution and development of the human brain.

 

At the Martinos Center for Biomedical Imaging, we implemented state-of-the-art of diffusion MR scans to study the evolution and development of connections. Here is a modified figure from our study published in Cerebral Cortex last year, which is available here. This study showed for the first time that we could use diffusion MR tractography to compare brain pathway maturation across species during fetal stages of development.

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Welcome to the Charvet laboratory for developmental neuroscience!

Welcome to the Charvet laboratory for developmental neuroscience! Our research is focused on integrating high-through-put methods in neuroimaging and sequencing to translate time across species and to develop new tools to better study connections in health and in disease. We are especially focused on integrating diffusion MR tracrography with transcription. Cutting across scales of organization will enhance our ability to study pathways of the human brain and bridge the gap between model systems and humans. Please check out our recent presentations and publications.

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We study developmental programs generating variation in brain structure and function across species. We use state of the art diffusion MR scans to trace pathways across the entire brain as shown below in a human brain. As you can see the human brain is composed of a complex web of networks. Diffusion MR imaging is a high-throughput method that relies on the principle of diffusion to reconstruct tracts (i.e., pathways). Although diffusion MR tractography is an exciting method to explore the structural connectivity of the brain, the tractography is sometimes questionable in its interpretation. Our lab is focused on developing new tools to ensure the accuracy of diffusion MR tractography so that we may develop a more complete understanding of human brain evolution. By integrating diffusion MR tractography with other scales of study, we can better map the human brain connectome and its evolution

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From Hendy et al., 2020 in Cerebral Cortex-Christine Charvet lab

Our innovation is to cut across connectomic and transcriptomic scales to enhance the study of connections in the human brain. We have recently published studies showcasing the power of this approach. We are excited to see that our approach is increasingly recognized as a powerful way to study the evolution and development of biological programs in the human lineage.

 

We published the first study that integrates diffusion MR tractography with transcription to study the evolution and development of connections. This paper, which was published in Cerebral Cortex in 2020, is also the first study from the Charvetlab! It’s available here.

Expanding on Translating time 

We now translate time in chimpanzees!

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We have a model to translate ages across 18 mammalian species. We have most recently included chimpanzees in the model. We were able to incorporate chimpanzees in the model by integrating transcriptional and structural information. This research provides a rigorous approach with which to compare brain development and aging in humans and chimpanzees and was recently published in the Proceedings B! The study addresses the following question but for a chimpanzee of any age!

Diffusion MR imaging

We study diffusion MR imaging and we have worked with researchers at the Martinos Center for Biomedical Imaging.  For example, we collected diffusion MR tractography to compare brain pathway maturation across species during fetal stages of development as you can see below in a fetal mouse and human. These fibers  represent pathways. Color coding reflects the average direction of pathways. 

Compare Mouse and Human Brain

From Charvet et al., 2020 in Cerebral Cortex

Statistical Genetics

We use RNA and epigenetic data to translate ages across species as well as other methods. Our analyses are inspired by different fields. For instance, we recently published a study investigating the genetic basis of variation in DNA replication timing across human pluripotent stem cell lines in Nature Communications in 2021. Read depth was used as an index of DNA replication timing and can be used to quantify the relative timing of DNA replication across the genome. We use methods from these fields to inform how to translate findings across species.

Please see our recent papers in the Proceedings of Royal Society and the Journal of Neuroscience. 

Enhancing diversity

Read about our efforts to enhance diversity in stem fields! We have participated in the growth of programs to engage students in science at historically black colleges. We are increasing awareness of HBCU achievements  and we participate in other initiatives to make education more accessible. 

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Animal Kingdom

We are in the College of Veterinary Medicine at Auburn University

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Join the lab!

There are many ways to join and participate in the lab. We have programs to fund veterinarian students, graduate, or undergraduate students who are interested in gaining short-term or long-term experiences. Here are a few opportunities available at the College of Veterinary Medicine. Please get in touch if you are interested in joining the lab at charvetcj(at)gmail.com

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We have a summer internship program to engage veterinary students in the lab.

Please get in touch if you are interested.

Scientist with Microscope

We have graduate student fellowship to fund graduate students

Please get in touch if you are interested.

Laboratory Scientist

We have a G-rise program to fund graduate students

Please get in touch if you are interested!