Tomasz Nowakowski, PhD

Asst Professor in Residence
Anatomy
Psychiatry
Eli and Edythe Broad Center of Regeneration Medicine and Stem Cell Research
+1 415 476-0878

Dr. Nowakowski received his Ph.D. from the University of Edinburgh (UK) in 2012, where he developed his passion for understanding molecular mechanisms of brain development. Subsequently, he pursued postdoctoral training at the Eli and Edythe Broad Center for Regeneration Medicine and Stem Cell Research at UCSF. In 2017, where he used single cell RNA sequencing to study the heterogeneity of cellular populations in the developing brain and discovered the biomarkers of outer radial glia.

He synthesized the current understanding of brain development and cortical expansion in the Supragranular Cortex Expansion Hypothesis, which extends the classic view of cortical development embodied in the Radial Unit Hypothesis to account for the massive expansion of the cortical OSVZ progenitor population, the protracted neurogenesis period in humans and primates, the loss of pial surface-contacting radial glia fibers mid-way through cortical neurogenesis, and the disproportionate expansion of supragranular cortical layers within primates. This updated model has important implication for neuronal migration, area patterning, and cortical folding.

Dr. Nowakowski established his own research group in 2017. His group seeks to understand how the human genome, a fundamental unit in biology, reproducibly generates the neuronal cell types of the brain that support its complex cognitive functions. In particular, Dr. Nowakowski is fascinated by inherited developmental mechanisms that recapitulate key morphological features of the body plan, while allowing sufficient flexibility to achieve the phenotypic variation we observe in nature. 

Recently developed technologies of single-cell sequencing, genome engineering, and in vitro modeling of tissue development have transformed our ability study the complex universe of cellular processes with unprecedented precision. Dr. Nowakowski’s independent research group seeks to utilize these technologies to uncover genetic control mechanisms underlying neurodevelopmental events and tissue organization in the cerebral cortex. These approaches may highlight cellular patterns of selective vulnerability in neurodevelopmental and neuropsychiatric disorders, including Autism Spectrum Disorders and Schizophrenia.

Primary Thematic Area: 
Neurobiology
Secondary Thematic Area: 
Developmental & Stem Cell Biology
Research Summary: 
Developmental origins of cellular diversity in the nervous system. Molecular and cellular mechanisms of cortical development.

Websites

Publications: 

Human iPSC-Derived Cerebral Organoids Model Cellular Features of Lissencephaly and Reveal Prolonged Mitosis of Outer Radial Glia.

Cell stem cell

Bershteyn M, Nowakowski TJ, Pollen AA, Di Lullo E, Nene A, Wynshaw-Boris A, Kriegstein AR

Zika virus cell tropism in the developing human brain and inhibition by azithromycin.

Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America

Retallack H, Di Lullo E, Arias C, Knopp KA, Laurie MT, Sandoval-Espinosa C, Mancia Leon WR, Krencik R, Ullian EM, Spatazza J, Pollen AA, Mandel-Brehm C, Nowakowski TJ, Kriegstein AR, DeRisi JL

Single-cell sequencing maps gene expression to mutational phylogenies in PDGF- and EGF-driven gliomas.

Molecular systems biology

Müller S, Liu SJ, Di Lullo E, Malatesta M, Pollen AA, Nowakowski TJ, Kohanbash G, Aghi M, Kriegstein AR, Lim DA, Diaz A

Transformation of the Radial Glia Scaffold Demarcates Two Stages of Human Cerebral Cortex Development.

Neuron

Nowakowski TJ, Pollen AA, Sandoval-Espinosa C, Kriegstein AR

A Primate lncRNA Mediates Notch Signaling during Neuronal Development by Sequestering miRNA.

Neuron

Rani N, Nowakowski TJ, Zhou H, Godshalk SE, Lisi V, Kriegstein AR, Kosik KS