One Brain, Many Genomes: Somatic Mutation and Genomic Variability in Human Cerebral Cortex

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Simons Foundation Lectures are free public colloquia related to basic science and mathematics. These high-level talks are intended for professors, students, postdocs and business professionals, but interested people from the metropolitan area are welcome as well.
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Christopher Walsh and his team are interested in genetic mechanisms of cerebral cortical development and abnormalities of cortical development resulting in intellectual disability, autism and epilepsy. The lab pioneered the analysis of recessive causes of autism by studying children with autism whose parents share ancestry.

Walsh will review recent work on ‘somatic mutations’ — de novo mutations that are present in some brain cells but not in all cells of the body — in several neurological conditions associated with intellectual disability and seizures. The talk will also cover the extent to which somatic mutations are an inevitable part of normal brain development, such that the neurons in the human brain are a tapestry of cells with distinct genomes. He will also discuss the relevance of somatic mutations to autism.

About the Speaker

Christoper Walsh is chief of the division of genetics and genomics at Boston Children’s Hospital, Bullard Professor of Pediatrics and Neurology at Harvard Medical School, and an investigator of the Howard Hughes Medical Institute. He completed his M.D. and Ph.D. at the University of Chicago, trained in neurology at Massachusetts General Hospital, and has been at Children’s Hospital since 2006.

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