Mapping the Human Brain

The Allen Institute for Brain Science initiated the Allen Brain Atlas in 2003 with a goal to create a genomic map of the mouse brain. The mouse brain atlas was successfully completed in 2006 using 85 million images containing 600 terabytes of data and identifying 21,000 active genes in the mouse brain. The atlas has become a fundamental tool for neurobiologists and the open concept research model has set and interesting paradigm for sharing data and accelerating research progress.

In today’s issue of ScienceInsider, Greg Miller reports that the institute has now launched a map of gene expression in the human brain.

As has been discussed in previous posts on this blog, I believe that a systems approach to biology is critical in achieving a fundamental understanding of functional activity of molecular mechanisms in their correct context. Tools such as the brain atlas make it much easier for scientists to take a holistic approach to their research by allowing them to see the “bigger picture” of temporal and spatial gene expression prior to beginning functional analysis.

Do you have experience with the Allen Brain Atlas or other such research tools? If so, please let us know how they’ve helped you develop your research approach.

Lein, E., Hawrylycz, M., Ao, N., Ayres, M., Bensinger, A., Bernard, A., Boe, A., Boguski, M., Brockway, K., Byrnes, E., Chen, L., Chen, L., Chen, T., Chi Chin, M., Chong, J., Crook, B., Czaplinska, A., Dang, C., Datta, S., Dee, N., Desaki, A., Desta, T., Diep, E., Dolbeare, T., Donelan, M., Dong, H., Dougherty, J., Duncan, B., Ebbert, A., Eichele, G., Estin, L., Faber, C., Facer, B., Fields, R., Fischer, S., Fliss, T., Frensley, C., Gates, S., Glattfelder, K., Halverson, K., Hart, M., Hohmann, J., Howell, M., Jeung, D., Johnson, R., Karr, P., Kawal, R., Kidney, J., Knapik, R., Kuan, C., Lake, J., Laramee, A., Larsen, K., Lau, C., Lemon, T., Liang, A., Liu, Y., Luong, L., Michaels, J., Morgan, J., Morgan, R., Mortrud, M., Mosqueda, N., Ng, L., Ng, R., Orta, G., Overly, C., Pak, T., Parry, S., Pathak, S., Pearson, O., Puchalski, R., Riley, Z., Rockett, H., Rowland, S., Royall, J., Ruiz, M., Sarno, N., Schaffnit, K., Shapovalova, N., Sivisay, T., Slaughterbeck, C., Smith, S., Smith, K., Smith, B., Sodt, A., Stewart, N., Stumpf, K., Sunkin, S., Sutram, M., Tam, A., Teemer, C., Thaller, C., Thompson, C., Varnam, L., Visel, A., Whitlock, R., Wohnoutka, P., Wolkey, C., Wong, V., Wood, M., Yaylaoglu, M., Young, R., Youngstrom, B., Feng Yuan, X., Zhang, B., Zwingman, T., & Jones, A. (2006). Genome-wide atlas of gene expression in the adult mouse brain Nature, 445 (7124), 168-176 DOI: 10.1038/nature05453

Jones AR, Overly CC, & Sunkin SM (2009). The Allen Brain Atlas: 5 years and beyond. Nature reviews. Neuroscience, 10 (11), 821-8 PMID: 19826436

Davis FP, & Eddy SR (2009). A tool for identification of genes expressed in patterns of interest using the Allen Brain Atlas. Bioinformatics (Oxford, England), 25 (13), 1647-54 PMID: 19414530

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