Mechanisms that
Build the Brain

Choroid plexus

Cerebrospinal fluid


We are fascinated with how the brain is built during development. Many components work together to accomplish this feat including: transcriptional signals within developing progenitor cells, the metabolic state of the brain and body, and interactions with the surrounding fluid environment of the brain (CSF).


Research and teaching inform each other. We are lifelong learners. As educators and neuroscientists, we use research into brain function to inform the learning process.

CSF & Choroid Plexus
Cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) is the environment in which the brain develops and functions. We are enthralled with the  underpinnings of CSF generation, composition, and function, especially early in brain development. In our study of CSF we are interested how the CSF supports brain development and CSF source tissues, including choroid plexus.

Key publications:

>Choroid plexus and CSF show diurnal variations and form an important bridge between body and brain rhythmicity. Published in Nature Communications. 2023.

> Metabolic and genetic underpinnings of choroid plexus water and ion modulatory machinery during early postnatal development and roles for this system in long-term brain morphology and fluid distribution. Published in Nature Communications. 2021.

> Mechanisms of cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) balance/ movement in Danio rerio (zebrafish) larvae with new method to reliably image and quantify CSF flow rates and volume changes in developing larval brain in vivo. Published in Fluids and Barrier of the CNS, 2016.

> Review on CSF during development published in Developmental Cell. 2020.
Translation / Metabolism
Critical developmental stem cell transitions are accompanied by a suite of changes in progenitors themselves including in their metabolism and ability to synthesize proteins. We focus on metabolism as a developmental signal and in disease.

Key publications:

> Choroid plexus and CSF metabolites show diurnal rhythmicity. Published in Nature Communications. 2023

> Review on how metabolism controls brain development. Published in Frontiers in Cell and Developmental Biology. 2021

> Generation of mouse model of a pediatric choroid plexus tumor for comparative study with patient choroid plexus carcinoma (CPC) and choroid plexus papilloma (CPP). Published in Am. J. Path. 2018.

> Use of Translating Ribosome Affinity Purification (TRAP) to investigate developmental ‘translatome’ of the developing choroid plexus across time in mouse. Investigated metabolic underpinnings of choroid plexus water and ion secretory machinery over postnatal development. Published in Nature Communications. 2021.

> Changes in the protein translation machinery in the neuroepithelium before and after neural tube closure (NTC). Published in eLife, 2018. Metabolic changes over this NTC specification timeframe. Published in Development, 2019.
Cortical Development
We are passionate about understanding and harnessing the progenitor cells that generate the brain. These neural stem cells have the capacity to generate multiple cell types in the brain.

Key publications:

> Molecular developmental controls over callosal projection neuron (CPN) subtype identity acquisition in the mammalian neocortex including and in-depth functional analysis of genes controlling CPN development. Investigation of functions for Cited2, published in The Journal of Neuroscience, 2016; for Cav-1 published in eNeuro.

> Identified novel molecular subpopulations of CPN and collaborated to initiate a comparative analysis between mouse and macaque. Identification published in The Journal of Neuroscience, 2009; comparative analysis published in Cerebral Cortex, 2017.

> Investigated establishment of neocortical developmental progenitor domains through study of Sox6 function. Published in Nature Neuroscience, 2009.

-7/11/23: Luke Liu, PhD joins us from Purdue University where he completed his thesis work in the Laboratory of Dr. Wei Zheng.  Welcome Luke!
-6/15/23: Arjun Rajan in the Developmental Biology Graduate program joins the lab for his thesis work!
-6/13/23: Blake Zhou in the Neurosciences IDP Graduate program joins the lab for their thesis work!
-5/22/23: Briana Griffin from Meharry SOM joins the lab for her summer research through the Stanford HBMC-REACH program. Welcome Briana!
-5/22/23: Thanks to the Airan lab for inviting us to share our work at their lab meeting!
-5/11/23: The lab received a 2023 McCormick and Gabilan Award. We are grateful for the support of our group!
-5/9/23: Hannah Pescaru joins the lab as a Stanford University Undergraduate researcher with the NeURO program. 
-5/5/23: Blake and Emma present a poster for the Stanford Neuroscience Forum!
-4/3/23: The first day of the Spring Quarter. We welcome Blake Zhou and Emma Follman (co-rotation in the Tan lab) for their rotations from the Neurosciences IDP graduate program.
-4/1/23: Ryann presents at the CSHL Brain Barriers meeting.
-3/22/23: The last day of Arjun’s Winter Quarter Rotation.  It was great to have him in the lab and we send well wishes for his next rotations!
The lab is grateful to the Shurl and Kay Curci Foundation for their generous support of our work.
-2/28/23: Thanks to the Hayden-Gephart lab for inviting us to share our work at their lab meeting!
We are grateful to the Hydrocephalus Association for funding our Innovator Award proposal!
-1/13/23: Ryann presents at the Bay Area Cilia Super Group
-1/10/23: Saf Seck joins the lab as a Stanford University Undergraduate researcher for the Winter Quarter.  
-1/10/23: Arjun Rajan starts his Winter Quarter rotation in the lab. He comes to us from the Developmental Biology Biosciences Graduate Program.
- 1/9/23: We welcome Ryan H as our lab manager. He comes to us from Harvard with years of experience in laboratory science and management!
-12/8/22: Thanks to the Tawfik lab for inviting us to share our work at their lab meeting!
-11/1/22: Ryann presents at the International Conference on Neural Tube Closure Defects in Austin TX
-11/1/22: The Fame Lab is officially open in the Department of Neurosurgey