Cellular and Molecular Explorations of Anthropogeny

Event Dates: 
Sep 29, 2017 -
1:00pm to 5:30pm
Event Chairs: 

The complete genome sequences of our closest existing and extinct relatives are now readily available. This has not only made possible the identification of positions in the genome where we are similar to chimpanzees and other apes but also reveals where and how all present-day humans, no matter where they live on the planet, are identical to each other but different from Neandertals. Since the genetic differences between these species are those that set modern humans apart from all other organisms on the planet, the identification of these unique positions constitutes an essentially complete “genetic recipe” for being a modern human. A major challenge for the next decade is to identify which of these genetic changes had important consequences, in particular with respect to the cognitive and social abilities that have made the development of rapidly changing technology, large societies, art, and perhaps modern language possible. Understanding the meaning of these differences is a crucial undertaking to fully explain the human condition and to address the diseases and other conditions that affect traits that are unique to humans. The development of the process of generating induced pluripotent stem cells from somatic cells, which can then be differentiated into any cell or tissue type, allows investigators to establish cellular and organ-specific systems to identify functionally important genetic differences occurring through primate evolution. The further establishment of specific gene-editing tools increases the precision through with these studies can reveal important changes. This symposium will be the first of its kind to explore the progress being made in this new area of Cellular and Molecular Anthropogeny.

Event Sessions

Media for each talk can be played by clicking on icons in the "Media" column, or by clicking on the individual talk titles below and then the attachment file at the bottom of the page.

Date Media Session Title Speakers Abstract Location
Fri 9/29 File Welcome & Introductory Remarks Ajit Varki, Fred Gage Salk Institute - Conrad T. Prebys Auditorium
Fri 9/29 File Cellular and Molecular Mechanisms that Differentiate Human and Non-Human Neural Development Fred Gage

Understanding the evolutionary mechanisms underlying expansion and reorganization of the human brain is essential to comprehend the emergence of the cognitive abilities typical of our species.... more

Salk Institute - Conrad T. Prebys Auditorium
Fri 9/29 File Understanding Primate Brain Development Using Stem Cell Systems Rick Livesey

Variations in cerebral cortex size and complexity are thought to contribute to differences in cognitive ability between humans and other animals. We are using primate stem cell systems to... more

Salk Institute - Conrad T. Prebys Auditorium
Fri 9/29 File Human-Specific Genes and Neocortex Expansion in Development and Evolution Wieland Huttner

The expansion of the human neocortex, which constitutes a basis for our cognitive abilities, is due to an increased abundance and proliferative capacity of neural stem and progenitor cells (NPCs)... more

Salk Institute - Conrad T. Prebys Auditorium
Fri 9/29 File Cellular and Molecular Features of Human Brain Expansion and Evolution Arnold Kriegstein

The developing human brain contains a huge number of cells whose identities have not yet been fully explored but whose specific molecular and functional features lead to the development of human... more

Salk Institute - Conrad T. Prebys Auditorium
Fri 9/29 File Making Faces: Regulatory Evolution and Variation in the Human Neural Crest Joanna Wysocka

From Galapagos finches to anteaters, the remarkable diversity of craniofacial structures within the vertebrate species is a testament to the plasticity of development and resourcefulness of... more

Salk Institute - Conrad T. Prebys Auditorium
Fri 9/29 File Multiple Genomic Events Altering Hominin Sialic Acid Biology Predated the Common Ancestor of Humans and Neanderthals Ajit Varki

Multiple Genomic Events Altering Hominin Sialic Acid Biology Predated the Common Ancestor of Humans and Neanderthals

Naazneen Khan1, Stevan Springer1... more

Salk Institute - Conrad T. Prebys Auditorium
Fri 9/29 File Molecular and Cellular Mechanisms Underlying Human-Specific Evolution of Cortical Connectivity Franck Polleux

Two prominent hallmarks of the human brain are the prolonged maturation time of neuronal circuits and a significant increase in cortical neuron connectivity. These features have been hypothesized... more

Salk Institute - Conrad T. Prebys Auditorium
Fri 9/29 File The Evolution of Human-Specific Genes by Duplication Evan Eichler

Huxley and Darwin were among the first to appreciate the close evolutionary relationship of humans and other African great apes but also to ponder what genetic changes might make us human. Initial... more

Salk Institute - Conrad T. Prebys Auditorium
Fri 9/29 File Wrap-up, Question and Answer Session, Closing Remarks Fred Gage, All Speakers Salk Institute - Conrad T. Prebys Auditorium

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