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
Research Overview: 

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: 

Are Organoids Ready for Prime Time?

Cell stem cell

Bhaduri A, Andrews MG, Kriegstein AR, Nowakowski TJ

Revealing architectural order with quantitative label-free imaging and deep learning.

eLife

Guo SM, Yeh LH, Folkesson J, Ivanov IE, Krishnan AP, Keefe MG, Hashemi E, Shin D, Chhun BB, Cho NH, Leonetti MD, Han MH, Nowakowski T, Mehta SB

A Chromatin Accessibility Atlas of the Developing Human Telencephalon.

Cell

Markenscoff-Papadimitriou E, Whalen S, Przytycki P, Thomas R, Binyameen F, Nowakowski TJ, Kriegstein AR, Sanders SJ, State MW, Pollard KS, Rubenstein JL

Medulloblastoma Arises from the Persistence of a Rare and Transient Sox2+ Granule Neuron Precursor.

Cell reports

Selvadurai HJ, Luis E, Desai K, Lan X, Vladoiu MC, Whitley O, Galvin C, Vanner RJ, Lee L, Whetstone H, Kushida M, Nowakowski T, Diamandis P, Hawkins C, Bader G, Kriegstein A, Taylor MD, Dirks PB

Cell stress in cortical organoids impairs molecular subtype specification.

Nature

Bhaduri A, Andrews MG, Mancia Leon W, Jung D, Shin D, Allen D, Jung D, Schmunk G, Haeussler M, Salma J, Pollen AA, Nowakowski TJ, Kriegstein AR