U01 - Zhang, Li 1U01MH116990-01

Cell Atlas of Mouse Brain-Spinal Cord Connectome

Brain and spinal cord constitute the central nervous system. In the past few years, great progress has been made in characterizing brain networks that initiate locomotion, skilled movements, and defensive behaviors. However, how these brain systems interact with spinal cord circuits to drive such behaviors remains poorly understood. Accordingly, we propose to construct a comprehensive cell atlas of the mouse brain-spinal cord connectome. We will use a highly innovative and multidisciplinary approach to systematically characterize neuronal types in the spinal cord based on their anatomy, connectivity, morphologies, molecular identities, and electrophysiological properties. This collaborative efforts holds promise to break technological barriers and to develop an unprecedented, comprehensive open source for brain-spinal cord research. Specific aims are:

  • Construct brain-spinal cord connectome and catalogue associated spinal neuron types.
  • To classify molecular profiles of brain recipient and projecting spinal cord neurons.
  • To develop a comprehensive BICCN brain-spinal cord connectome and cell type data portal.

Project Leadership

Li I. Zhang, Ph.D. (Principal Investigator)
Professor of Physiology & Neuroscience
Zilkha Neurogenetic Institute
Keck School of Medicine
University of Southern California


Hong-Wei Dong, Ph.D.  (Principal investigator)
Professor of Neurology, Director of Center for Integrative Connectomics, 
USC Mark and Mary Stevens Neuroimaging and Informatics Institute
Keck School of Medicine of University of Southern California


Guoqiang Bi, Ph.D. (Co-Investigator)
Professor of School of Life Sciences 
University of Science and Technology of China


Long Cai, Ph.D. (Co-Investigator)
Professor of Biology and Biological Engineering
Beckman Institute
California Institute of Technology


Huizhong Tao, Ph.D. (Co-Investigator)
Associate Professor of Physiology & Neuroscience
Zilkha Neurogenetic Institute
Keck School of Medicine
University of Southern California


Yimin Zou, Ph.D. (Co-Investigator)
Professor of Biology
Division of Biology, Section of Neuroscience
University of California San Diego


Kun Zhang, Ph.D. (Co-Investigator)
Professor of Bioengineering
Institute for Genomic Medicine
University of California San Diego



Project Data Types

  • Transsynaptically anterograde tracing data.
  • Retrograde tracing data.
  • Light-sheet 3D spinal cord imaging data.
  • Electrophysiology data and morphological reconstruction data of anterograde/retrograde labelled spinal cord neurons.
  • Spinal cord SeqFISH data.
  • Spinal cord scRNA-seq data.

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