Luis de la Torre-Ubieta, Ph.D.

Luis de la Torre-Ubieta, Ph.D. 

Assistant Professor, Psychiatry and Biobehavioral Sciences

Bio

Luis de la Torre-Ubieta, Ph.D., takes a multidisciplinary approach to advancing the understanding of the human brain. Through analyzing gene expression patterns, as well as cellular and molecular mechanisms that drive human brain development, his ultimate goal is to develop new treatments for neuropsychiatric diseases such as autism spectrum disorder and schizophrenia.

Advances in neural stem cell biology are providing novel methods – such as three-dimensional mini brain organoids and two-dimensional neural tissue models – to gain unprecedented insights into how genetic and cellular mechanisms shape human brain development. A major gap in the study of human stem cell models is the field’s inability to quantitatively assess how accurate these models are at mimicking human brain development. To address this need, de la Torre-Ubieta developed a series of bioinformatics tools, called CoNTExT, that compare gene expression patterns from stem cell-based models with similar data from human brain development. These tools have already revealed key differences and limitations of existing stem cell-based models, suggesting areas for improvement. De la Torre-Ubieta and his lab are continuing to develop, improve and characterize neural stem cell-based models in order to harness their potential to reveal activities in normal and diseased brain development and function.

Another key area of interest for de la Torre-Ubieta is how the genome directs the production of the billions of cells in the human cortex, the outermost part of the brain. De la Torre-Ubieta studies how portions of the non-coding genome, which play an important role in regulating gene expression, direct stem cells in the brain to self-renew and create other types of brain cells. He and his collaborators developed the first map of gene regulation during human cortical neurogenesis, the process by which neural stem cells turn into brain cells and the cerebral cortex – the part of the brain that is responsible for thinking, perceiving and sophisticated communication – expands.  Ultimately, de la Torre-Ubieta hopes his neurogenesis research will shed light into how the human cortex evolved and enable neurobiologists to create better brain models that will lead to new therapies for neurological disorders.

De la Torre-Ubieta earned a doctorate degree in neurobiology from Harvard University and completed post-doctoral fellowships at Harvard Medical School and UCLA.

Publications

Honors & Affiliations

Honors

  • Image Award, Wellcome Trust, 2015

Affiliations

  • Society for Neuroscience