The hypothalamus is composed of a diverse array of neuronal and glial cell types, many of which are organized into spatially discrete clusters known as nuclei. The hypothalamus is essential for regulating a broad range of homeostatic physiological processes. Progress in this area has been hampered, however, by the fact that hypothalamic cell types thus far have remained quite poorly characterized. Still, less is known about how hypothalamic cell types acquire their identities during development.
In the lab of Professor Seth Blackshaw, I have utilized rapidly advancing single-cell RNA-Sequencing (scRNA-Seq) technology to analyze the hypothalamus development at cellular resolution and profile changes in gene expression across all developmental stages. I integrate our findings of genes that control hypothalamic regionalization and neurogenesis and findings of gene regulatory networks that control cell identity to generate a Hypothalamic Developmental Database (HyDD). Our HyDD reference atlas is used to address various aspects of developmental biology: 1) comprehensive analysis of complex mutant phenotypes and 2) development of hypothalamic neuronal subpopulations.