Applied Developmental Neurobiology

This group is led by Carl Sellgren and consists of a preclinical and a clinical unit.

The laboratory is located in Biomedicum (Campus Solna) and uses models of the developing human brain (based on induced pluripotent stem cells) to study mechanisms that guide neurodevelopment and that are involved in different neurodevelopmental disorders (using genetic and environmental risk models). For this, we collect skin biopsies from patients at the psychiatric clinics in Stockholm and integrate experimental data with observational data obtained through genetic analyses, brain imaging, and analyses of cerebrospinal fluid. 

The clinical unit foremost works within the Karolinska Schizophrenia Project but also in collaboration with other cohort studies. Based on our earliest findings, we have a special interest in glial modulation of developing neuronal circuits and have developed brain organoid models that incorporates both microglia and oligodendrocyte lineage cells. Combined with different functional assays, single cell multiomics techniques are also commonly used in the laboratory to characterize brain organoids. 


The current projects in our laboratory can be divided into four major categories:

  1. Assay development including cellular high-throughput approaches as well as more complete models such as organoids.
  2. Patient vs. control comparisons.
  3. Disease-orientated mechanistic studies using for example genetic engineering.
  4. High-throughput compound screening.
Credit: Asimenia Gkogka/Sellgren Lab Sellgren laboratory was part in discovering that an excess of synapses is eliminated in models of the developing human brain when using cells obtained from individuals with schizophrenia. This could largely be explained by genetic risk variations that lead to an increased expression of the CA4 gene, and follow-up studies revealed elevated C4A protein levels in cerebrospinal fluid obtained from individuals with schizophrenia that experienced their first psychotic episode. This is the first time a biological mechanism behind the disease has been described. This image shows the volumetric reconstruction of a microglial cell, crucial for maintaining brain’s health and functions, engulfing synaptic components within human brain organoids. The synaptic elements are statistically color-coded, based on their overlap with the microglia surface (from cyan = no overlap, to magenta = completely internalized by microglia).
Workflow Photo: N/A

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Group Photo KaSP
Group photo KaSP

Group members

  • Sanna Bruno, MD, PhD student
  • Cristina Belotti, postdoc
  • Asimenia Gkogka, PhD student
  • Marja Koskuvi, postdoc
  • Susmita Malwade, PhD student
  • Lena Lundberg, Research nurse
  • Martin Lundberg, MD, PhD student
  • Ana Oliveira, postdoc
  • Samudyata, PhD, senior lab manager
  • Martin Schalling, Professor
  • Ruth Schlissel, Research coordinator
  • Alireza Salehi, PhD, affiliated to research
  • Carl M. Sellgren, Associate Professor, Group leader
  • Rose Temizer, PhD student
  • Caroline Westerberg Hake, Research nurse
  • JingJing Xu, PhD student

Research support

  • Marianne och Marcus Wallenbergs Stiftelse
  • Knut och Alice Wallenbergs Stiftelse
  • Swedish Research Council
  • StratNeuro
  • Erling-Persson Foundation
  • Hjärnfonden
  • ALF
  • SSMF
  • One Mind Foundation
  • Kaiser Permanente
  • Karolinska Institutet
  • Bjarne Ahlström’s Memorial Fund


Our research team works in close co-operation with several national and international groups in order to build a representative biobank of live cells from subjects with psychiatric and neurological disorders.

Our clinical projects are part of the Karolinska Schizophrenia Project (KaSP), a collaboration between the three principal investigators Carl Sellgren, Simon Cervenka and Sophie Erhardt. Our group is responsible for collecting somatic cells for reprogramming as well as to head the collection of clinical data together with the Cervenka Lab.

Selected publications

Cerebrospinal fluid concentration of complement component 4A is increased in first episode schizophrenia. Gracias J, Orhan F, Hörbeck E, Holmén-Larsson J, Khanlarkani N, Malwade S, Goparaju SK, Schwieler L, Demirel İŞ, Fu T, Fatourus-Bergman H, Pelanis A, Goold CP, Goulding A, Annerbrink K, Isgren A, Sparding T, Schalling M, Yañez VAC, Göpfert JC, Nilsson J, Brinkmalm A, Blennow K, Zetterberg H, Engberg G, Piehl F, Sheridan SD, Perlis RH, Cervenka S, Erhardt S, Landen M, Sellgren CM. Nat. Commun. 2022 Nov 3;13(1):6427.

SARS-CoV-2 promotes microglial synapse elimination in human brain organoids. Samudyata, Oliveira AO, Malwade S, Rufino de Sousa N, Goparaju SK, Gracias J, Orhan F, Steponaviciute L, Schalling M, Sheridan SD, Perlis RH, Rothfuchs AG, Sellgren CM. Mol Psychiatry. 2022 Oct;27(10):3939-3950. 

Increased synapse elimination by microglia in schizophrenia patient-derived models of synaptic pruning. Sellgren CM, Gracias J, Watmuff B, Biag JD, Thanos JM, Whittredge PB, Fu T, Worringer K, Brown HE, Wang J, Kaykas A, Karmacharya R, Goold CP, Sheridan SD, Perlis RHNat Neurosci. 2019 Mar;22(3):374-385. 

Neurodevelopmental disorders-high-resolution rethinking of disease modeling. Khodosevich K, Sellgren CM. Mol Psychiatry. 2023 Jan;28(1):34-43. 


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Carl Sellgren Majkowitz

Researcher;Assistant Professor


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