The cerebral cortex of the human brain contains more than 160 trillion synapses, or sites of communication between neurons. Each neuron receives synaptic inputs from hundreds or even thousands of different neurons, and each sends outputs to a similar number of target neurons, spread out over a large distance. Thus, deciphering the “connectome,” or complete connectivity diagram, of even one type of neuron in the brain poses enormous challenges.
The Lichtman laboratory, part of the Molecular and Cellular Biology Department and Conte Center at Harvard, has long been developing novel imaging methods to overcome these challenges. One approach that the lab has revolutionized in recent years is serial electron microscopy (EM) reconstruction of brain tissue. Through innovations in the automation of brain sectioning and serial scanning EM, as well as the development of new computational tools, it has now become possible to reconstruct most, if not all, of the neuronal processes and synaptic connections within a block of brain tissue.
In this hands-on mini-course, taught by one of the scientists pioneering these efforts, Bobby Kasthuri, MD, PhD, students will have the opportunity to directly participate in the process of reconstructing mouse brain circuits—generating real, new data and documenting key steps in the process (possibly to be featured on a website in the future).
An introductory lecture, discussion of background papers, and tour of the laboratory will be included. No background in neuroscience is required. Those who fall in love with connectomics may have the opportunity to stay and do internships in the lab throughout the academic year.
Monday January 21
5pm to 7pm, Welcome Dinner and “Introduction to Connectomics” Lecture
Tuesday January 22 to Friday January 25
9am to 5pm, Daily image reconstruction activities in Lichtman laboratory, starting with lab tour on Tuesday
To register, email firstname.lastname@example.org.
There is a cap of 20 people, so please sign up in advance. Also, note that this is a full week event and attendance throughout the week is required. (If you do have a conflict during one of the days, but would really like to participate, please inquire about this when registering.)