Swammerdam Lecture – Pierre Vanderhaeghen

SWAMMERDAM LECTURE - Tuesday November 8th 2022 at 16:00

Prof. dr. Pierre Vanderhaeghen

Mechanisms Linking Development and Evolution of the Human Brain


Pierre Vanderhaeghen Lab
VIB-KU Leuven Center for Brain & Disease Research, Department of Neurosciences, Leuven Brain Institute, at KULeuven, and  IRIBHM, ULB, Brussels

Date / time

Tuesday November 8th 2022,  16:00-17:00


dr. Frank Jacobs


Swammerdam Institute for Life Sciences
room tba
Sciencepark 904, Amsterdam

The lecture is followed by a reception

The human cerebral cortex has undergone rapid expansion and complexification during recent evolution. One striking feature of human corticogenesis compared with other species is protracted timing, taking years instead of weeks in the mouse and months in the macaque. The resulting brain neoteny is thought to contribute in an important fashion to enhanced neural circuit complexity and plasticity, but the mechanisms have long remained completely unknown.

In vitro and xenotransplantation models indicate that many species-specific properties of corticogenesis, including developmental timing and neoteny, are largely intrinsic to cortical progenitors and neurons. The molecular mechanisms start to be understood, and include selective divergence in gene regulatory networks, the emergence of human-specific genes, but also species-specific features of mitochondria dynamics and metabolism. These newly discovered mechanisms shed light on human evolution and provide interesting links with brain diseases to which our species is particularly sensitive.

Pierre Vanderhaeghen will give a masterclass for ONWAR PhD candidates. More information will follow soon.

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