Tomasz Jan Nowakowski

Dr. Nowakowski received his Ph.D. from the University of Edinburgh in 2012, where he developed his passion for understanding the molecular mechanisms of brain development under the supervision of Drs. David Price and Thomas Pratt. He subsequently completed his postdoctoral work in the laboratory of Arnold Kriegstein at UCSF in 2017 where he pioneered the use of single cell RNA sequencing to study the heterogeneity of cellular populations in the developing brain and discovered the biomarkers of outer radial glia. He synthesized the current understanding of brain development and cortical expansion in the Supragranular Cortex Expansion Hypothesis, which extends the classic view of cortical development embodied in the Radial Unit Hypothesis to account for the massive expansion of the cortical OSVZ progenitor population, the protracted neurogenesis period in humans and primates, the loss of pial surface-contacting radial glia fibers mid-way through cortical neurogenesis, and the disproportionate expansion of supragranular cortical layers within primates. This updated model has important implication for neuronal migration, area patterning, and cortical folding.


Krieg Cortical Explorer Award, 2017

Broad Foundation Innovation Award, 2017

Simons Foundation Autism Research Initiative, Bridge to Independence Award, 2017

Wellcome Trust 4-Year PhD Studentship, 2007

Significant Publications

For full list of publications please follow: Pubmed

Nowakowski TJ#, Bhaduri A*, Pollen AA*, Alvarado B, Mostajo-Radji MA, Di Lullo E, Haeussler, Sandoval-Espinosa C, Liu SJ, Velmeshev D, Ounadjela JR, Shuga J, Wang X, Lim DA, West JA, Leyrat AA, Kent WJ, Kriegstein AR# Spatiotemporal Gene Expression Trajectories Reveal Developmental Hierarchies of the Human Cortex, * co-first author; **co-corresponding author Science 2017 Dec 8;358(6368):1318-1323. doi: 10.1126/science.aap8809. #- co-corresponding author PMID:2921757

Nowakowski TJ#, Pollen AA, Sandoval-Espinosa C, Kriegstein AR# Transformation of the Radial Glia Scaffold Demarcates Two Stages of Human Cerebral Cortex Development. Neuron 2016; PMID: 27657449; #-co-corresponding author

Nowakowski TJ#, Fotaki V, Pollock A, Sun T, Pratt T, Price DJ#. MicroRNA-92b regulates the development of intermediate cortical progenitors in embryonic mouse brain. PNAS 2013;  PMID: 23569256; #-corresponding author

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Ryan Delgado - Postdoc

I grew up in Phoenix, Arizona and attended the University of Arizona where I studied Molecular and Cellular Biology. As a student in the MD/PhD program at UCSF, I developed an interest in developmental biology and studied the roll of the chromatin modifying protein Mll1 in maintaining the regional identity of stem cells in the postnatal subventricular zone. As a post-doc in the Nowakowski lab, I am interested in studying developmental lineage relationships between radial glia subtypes and postmitotic neurons and astrocytes in the cerebral cortex. Using single cell RNA sequencing, my goal is to discover new genetic programs regulating cell fate decisions during neurogenesis and gliogenesis.


California Institute of Regenerative Medicine Graduate Fellowship, 2013

Significant Publications

Delgado RN and Lim DA. Embryonic Nkx2.1-expressing neural precursor cells contribute to the regional heterogeneity of adult V–SVZ neural stem cells. Developmental Biology 2015; PMID: 26387477


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Galina Schmunk - Postdoc

I received my PhD from UC Irvine, where I discovered a previously unknown calcium signaling deficit across different forms of autism spectrum disorders. Working on autism made me interested in early human neurodevelopment and how prenatal environmental factors, including maternal inflammation, impact brain development and increase autism risks. For my postdoctoral training, I am interested in identifying gene expression profile governing glial maturation and intercellular interactions during neuro-glial interactions in developing brain, and to understand how genetic and environmental perturbations during early neurodevelopment translate into increased autism risk.

Significant Publications

Schmunk, G., Nguyen, R. L., Ferguson, D. L., Kumar, K., Parker, I. & Gargus, J. J. High-throughput screen detects calcium signaling dysfunction in typical sporadic autism spectrum disorder. Scientific Reports, 7, 40740 (2017).

Schmunk, G., Boubion, B. J., Smith, I. F., Parker, I. & Gargus, J. J. Shared functional defect in IP3R-mediated calcium signaling in diverse monogenic autism syndromes. Transl. Psychiatry 5, e643 (2015).


Tamara Sharf - undergraduate volunteer, UC Berkeley


Shaun Cho - undergraduate volunteer, UC Berkeley


Lab Alumni

2017 Johain Ounadjela - Undergraduate Student, Columbia University