Neural Development

Team leader: Julia Ladewig

Our intellectual abilities are what distinguishes us most from ancestral vertebrates including other mammals. Most cognitive skills are accomplished by a complex network formed by neurons and glia of the human cerebral cortex. To understand the development and function of this organ, neurobiologists undertook substantial effort in investigating in vitro and in vivo models. These studies gave us first insight into the molecular and cellular mechanisms leading to the complexity of the human brain. They were, however, hampered by the limited access to human brain tissue and inadequate model systems. Methodologies to model human brain development using human pluripotent stem cells (PSC) provide tremendous potential to accelerate cellular, molecular and functional studies of human brain development.
The Neurodevelopment group employs induced pluripotent stem cell (iPSC)- and direct cell conversion-based systems to study the molecular mechanisms that control cell diversity and positioning in the developing human cerebral cortex in heath and disease.

* Krefft O., Jabali A., Iefremova V., Koch P., Ladewig J., Generation of standardized and reproducible forebrain-type cerebral organoids from human induced pluripotent stem cells. JoVe. 2018 DOI: 10.3791/56768
* Koch P., Ladewig J., A Little Bit of Guidance: Mini Brains on their Route to Adolescence. Cell Stem Cell 2017 Aug 3;21(2):157-158  
* Iefremova, V., Manikakis, G., Krefft, O., Jabali, A., Weynans, K., Wilkens, R., Marsoner, F., Brändl, B., Müller, F.-J., Koch, P., Ladewig, J. “An organoid-based model of cortical development identifies non-cell-autonomous defects in Wnt signaling contributing to Miller-Dieker Syndrome” Cell Reports. 2017 April 4;19(1):50–59. DOI: (2017)

Ministry of Innovation, Science and Research of the State of North Rhine-Westphalia
Junior research group (since 01.01.2014).

Neuron Network of European Funding for Neuroscience Research, JTC 2015 Neurodevelopmental Disorders, STEM-MCD ’Stem cells and mechanisms contributing to human cortical malformations’.