The laboratory of Alex Urban at Stanford University, in the departments of Psychiatry and of Genetics, located in the Stanford Center for Genomics and Personalized Medicine, develops and uses cutting-edge genomics technology, in combination with advanced model systems and primary human tissues, to determine how complex variation in the human genome sequence will influence normal and abnormal brain development and brain function.
The major psychiatric disorders have strong developmental and genetic components to their etiology, but the genetics are complex and not yet well understood on the molecular level. The Urban laboratory is using multi-level functional genomics analyses in brains from patients with psychiatric disorders as well as in stem-cell based tissue culture models to reveal fundamental effects of complex genomic sequence variation that lead to abnormal brain development and function.
Dr. Urban has extensive experience with developing and applying state-of-the-art and emerging genomics and epigenomics technologies. Two main, and connected, directions of research in his laboratory are the investigation of the molecular effects of large genome sequence variants during neuronal development using iPSC model systems and the study of the nature and effects of somatic genome variation using tissue culture models and primary tissue samples.
He has been involved on numerous occasions in using a large-scale and high-throughput setup for multi-level genomics analyses. This includes for example participation in the ENCODE and 1000 Genomes projects and also in the Brain Somatic Mosaicism Network (BSMN) consortium project, the NIH Centers of Excellence in Genome Sciences (CEGS) program, and the PsychENCODE consortium.