Central Institute of Mental Health and
Hector Institute for Translational Brain Research
Dott. Julia Ladewig
Throughout my past and present research works, I was using human pluripotent stem cells (PSCs) as a tool to generate specific cell populations of the human brain and to exploit neuronal physiology, stem cell-based brain regeneration as well as neurodevelopmental, psychiatric and degenerative disorders. This fact demonstrates my strong interest in the application of PSC-based model systems to study human brain development and function. During my early time in this area, I developed a lineage selection protocol for the isolation of young PSC-derived human neurons and establish a highly efficient protocol to generate human neurons directly from somatic cells (iNs). Next to this focus, I was involved in several studies concentrating on different neurodegenerative diseases such as Alzheimer’s Disease and ataxia. I got then interested in neuronal behavior and used PSC-derived neurons to study neuronal migration and integration. These studies turned my attention to more developmental aspects of neuronal migration: the migration of neurons during cortical development. Consequently, I applied for and secured my first independent funding in 2011 to follow my distinct research interest. I continued on this research and extended into the field of human brain development. In 2014, I secured my own independent Junior Research Group and established my own lab. Since then, I focused on the understanding of human cortical development in health and disease. I exploited the self-organizing capacity of PSCs into brain organoids and started to study neurodevelopmental disorders using this cellular model. Specifically, I developed the organoid technique further to generate homogeneous forebrain specific organotypic structures in vitro. With this system I was equipped with a reliable in vitro model for studying the mechanisms controlling cell diversity and positioning in the developing human cerebral cortex in health and changes associated with developmental malformations. Since 2018 I am group leader at the Hector Institute for Translational Brain Research in Mannheim focusing on applying brain organoids to study human brain development and associated psychiatric disorders.
Dott. Andrea Carlo Rossetti
I got my master’s degree in “Biotechnology of the Drug” in 2013 and my PhD in “Experimental and Clinical Pharmacological Sciences” in 2017 at the University of Milan, investigating the influence of neuroinflammation in the pathophysiology of psychiatric disorders. I joined the laboratory of Julia Ladewig in 2018 at the Central Institute of Mental Health in Mannheim to study the dynamics of brain development through iPSCs modeling and brain organoids generation. Currently, my research focuses on the pathologic mechanisms of neurodevelopmental psychiatric disorders (Rett Syndrome, ASD, Schizophrenia) and cortical malformations (LIS-1 lissencephaly), by using both patient-derived iPSCs and cellular stressors in a 3-dimensional in vitro model of the developing brain.