Developmental Neurogenomics – Michael Ratz's Group

We study mammalian brain development by using and building novel molecular tools such as cellular barcoding and spatial transcriptomics.

A tree with yellow, red and blue cells on it.
Artistic illustration showing how uniquely barcoded progenitor cells (bottom) develop into a range of diverse cell types (top). Image: Lesya Adamchuk (Ella Maru Studio, Inc.).

Our research

We are interested in understanding the principles that govern the formation and function of the mammalian brain across scales ranging from genes to neural circuits:

  • What is the molecular and cellular architecture of neural circuits in the mammalian brain?
  • How do single neurons choose specific synaptic partners from many potential targets during brain development?
  • How do mutations in risk genes lead to neurodevelopmental disorders (e.g. autism spectrum disorder)?


To tackle those questions, we employ and develop cutting edge technologies with a special focus on the following areas:

  • Cellular barcodes for lineage and/or synaptic connectivity tracking in vivo
  • Spatial transcriptomics to decode gene expression with 3D resolution in situ 
  • Bioinformatic methods for exploratory data analysis of large genomic datasets 
  • Genome engineering in cells and animals for scalable studies of gene function


Selected publications


  • SSMF Starting Grant
  • VR Starting Grant
  • StratNeuro Startup Grant