Student Theses and Dissertations

A Reductionist Approach to Modeling Human Corticogenesis

Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

RU Laboratory

Brivanlou Laboratory


The formation of the mammalian cerebral cortex is a complex multi-tiered process that involves three major milestones: 1) neural induction and folding of the neuroepithelium, 2) areal patterning and generation of various progenitor types, and 3) corticogenesis. Our current understanding of the molecular and cellular basis of cortical development comes largely from mouse studies due to the genetic tractability of this model system. However, as primate studies have shown, the primate brain is unique in terms of its progenitor and neuronal composition, cortical areas, scale, and gene expression. Limitations in the availability of non-human primate and human fetal material, the longer timescale of developmental processes, as well as the ethical considerations involved preclude direct experimental observations in both these organisms. However, human pluripotent stem cells (hPSCs) allow a window into early human fetal development and permit experimental manipulation of developmental events, thereby enabling molecular and cellular dissection of corticogenesis.


A Thesis Presented to the Faculty of The Rockefeller University in Partial Fulfillment of the Requirements for the degree of Doctor of Philosophy

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