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The Brain Mosaic: Pioneering and extending brain data

14 October 2019

On 10-11 October 2019, the second edition of The Brain Mosaic: Cellular heterogeneity in the CNS took place. More than 270 people from all over the world gathered at the University hall of KU Leuven for 2 days filled with groundbreaking neuroscience.

For this conference we had the pleasure to have two conference reporters: Nicola Fattorelli and Vinoy Vijayan from the VIB-KU Leuven Center for Brain & Disease Research.

Let’s give them the word:

Nicola Fattorelli: “The symposium opened with a keynote lecture by Sten Linnarsson (Karolinska Institutet, SE) who inspired the audience with an overview of the single-cell transcriptomics work that his lab has been pioneering, including the comprehensive description of the mouse brain atlas and the RNA velocity concept. The first plenary session already gave us the big picture of the Brain Mosaic conference, with an extensive description of cellular heterogeneity in the major animal models’ brain cells by leading speakers of the field.”

Stein Aerts (VIB-KU Leuven Center for Brain & Disease Research, BE) and Scott Waddell (University of Oxford, UK) introduced the fly brain, Bosiljka Tasic (Allen Institute for Brain Science, US) went back to mice, while Barbara Treutlein (ETH Zurich, CH) moved on to primates and explored cerebral organoid development, comparing human and other great apes.”

“The afternoon session of day 1 was mainly dedicated to Spatial Transcriptomics, a groundbreaking technique which allows mapping gene activity in tissue samples. The speakers showed how this spatial information can be added to single-cell transcriptomics, and that we’ll be soon able to reach sub-cellular resolution!”

“The last session covered new developments in methods of omics data integration and gave some insights on how powerful computational analyses can be in understanding the complexity of the data we collect.”

Vinoy Vijayan: “Day 2 kicked off with a keynote address from Ido Amit (Weizmann Institute of Science, IL). His talk focused on new applications of single-cell technologies to study the immune system’s role in disease in intricate detail. Following the keynote, there was an excellent line-up of speakers focused on new technologies and brain diseases, especially Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s. The overall message was that there is a lot more variability at the level of the genome and the transcriptome in disease conditions. New technologies like single cell are helping us appreciate this.

“The final session of the conference switched focus to the level of brain function at the neural circuit and whole brain level. Jayaram Chandrashekar (HHMI Janelia Research Campus, US) talked about the Janelia Mouselight Project – a huge undertaking that combines massive human and technological resources to generate a platform for molecular characterization of individual neurons in the brain. Taken together with genomic, transcriptomic and proteomic technologies described earlier in the conference, it seems that we are approaching a ‘golden era’ for neuroscience research. An era where we can study the amazing diversity of the brain at many different biological levels.”

We thank the reporters for their insights in The Brain Mosaic conference.

Group picture - The Brain Mosaic 2019
Speaker picture - The Brain Mosaic 2019
Conference Reporters - The Brain Mosaic 2019