ERC Consolidator Grant for Boyan Bonev

Fostering interdepartmental and cross-institutional research - congrats to Boyan Bonev for his ERC Consolidator Grant to understand the regulatory logic of lineage specification in the developing cortex.


The mammalian cortex is the most complex region of the brain responsible for higher cognitive functions. It contains an unparalleled variety of neuron subtypes, with unique molecular, morphological and connectivity features, which are generated in a precise temporal sequence from neural progenitors. This sequence is conserved across all mammals and its disruption leads to abnormal cortical development, which often translates into prominent neuropsychiatric diseases such as amyotrophic lateral sclerosis and schizophrenia. Increasing evidence suggests that epigenetic regulation is essential for cortical development but how multiple regulatory layers are coordinated to specify distinct neuronal lineages in vivo remains unclear.

Now, the emergence of single-cell and cell-type specific multi-omics methods developed by Boyan’s lab and others finally allow to interrogate regulatory dynamics genome-wide across multiple epigenetic layers in vivo. With his ERC project EpiCortex, Boyan will map, validate and functionally characterize the regulatory landscape in cortical development in vivo in order to decode the molecular logic of temporal cellular identity in the cortex.

A unique feature of EpiCortex is its integrative nature, combining multi-omic single-cell profiling, massive parallel reporter assays (MPRAs) and large-scale functional perturbations to answer fundamental questions regarding the acquisition and maintenance of cell identity in vivo.

Ultimately, EpiCortex will provide a comprehensive regulatory map of the molecular logic of lineage specification in the mammalian cortex – a much needed boost for future regenerative therapies tailored towards malformation of cortical development.

see also most recent publication