CARTA Members in the News: Alysson R. Muotri and Katerina Semendeferi (both The Archealization Center, UC San Diego School of Medicine)

Feb 24, 2021

What's Past is Prologue.

The new year welcomes The Archealization Center (ArchC), a new way to study the distant past, and it's no wonder that the minds behind this innovative, multi-disciplinary research center at UC San Diego are both CARTA Members: Alysson R. Muotri, Professor of Pediatrics and Cellular & Molecular Medicine and Director of the Stem Cell Program; and Katerina Semendeferi, Professor of Anthropology and Director of the Laboratory for Human Comparative Neuroanatomy at UC San Diego. The ArchC extends Semendeferi's longtime focus on comparative neurobiology and combines it with Muotri's work growing human brain organoids, the latter of which allows for empirical modelling of social neurological conditions and brain evolution.

A new research article in Science (Feb 12, 2021) and featured in The New York Times (Feb 11, 2021) explores the differences between the genomes of diverse living human populations and archaic ones (e.g., the Neanderthals and Denisovans), producing "Neanderthalized" cerebral organoids that allow CARTA Members to grapple in new ways with basic questions regarding what makes us human.


Original research:

Trujillo, C. A., Rice, E. S., Schaefer, N. K., Chaim, I. A., Wheeler, E. C., Madrigal, A. A., ... & Muotri, A. R. (2021). Reintroduction of the archaic variant of NOVA1 in cortical organoids alters neurodevelopment. Science, 371(6530).


Related press clips:

Buschman, H. How a Single Gene Alteration May Have Separated Modern Humans from Predecessors. UC San Diego Press Release, Published on February 11, 2021.

Zimmer, C. Tiny blobs of brain cells could reveal how your mind differs from a Neanderthal's. The New York Times, February 11, 2021.


Learn more about these CARTA Members and their complementary approaches to anthropogeny in their CARTA profiles:

ArchC co-Director, Alysson R. Muotri

ArchC co-Director, Katerina Semendeferi