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Fields & Applications Translational Science

The Cortex-Characterizing Consortium

After five years of work, a huge consortium of researchers supported by the National Institutes of Health's Brain Research Through Advancing Innovative Neurotechnologies (BRAIN) Initiative has simultaneously published 17 studies identifying 116 different cell types in the mouse, marmoset, and human motor cortices (1).

To characterize the different cell types, the researchers used single-cell RNA sequencing to identify all the specific messenger RNA molecules and their levels in each cell. Other methods included chromatin accessibility and DNA methylomes, morphological and electrophysiological properties, and cellular resolution input–output mapping. Many of the methods incorporated artificial intelligence and machine learning. Finally, a team of statisticians combined data from all of the experimental methods to determine how best to classify or cluster cells.

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  1. BRAIN Initiative Cell Census Network (BICCN), Nat, 598, 86-102 (2021). Available at: https://go.nature.com/3vja6jY
About the Author
James Strachan

Over the course of my Biomedical Sciences degree it dawned on me that my goal of becoming a scientist didn’t quite mesh with my lack of affinity for lab work. Thinking on my decision to pursue biology rather than English at age 15 – despite an aptitude for the latter – I realized that science writing was a way to combine what I loved with what I was good at.

From there I set out to gather as much freelancing experience as I could, spending 2 years developing scientific content for International Innovation, before completing an MSc in Science Communication. After gaining invaluable experience in supporting the communications efforts of CERN and IN-PART, I joined Texere – where I am focused on producing consistently engaging, cutting-edge and innovative content for our specialist audiences around the world.

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