Genetic Dissection of Cerebral Cortex Development

Simon Hippenmeyer

The human brain, of which the cerebral cortex is the largest structure, is composed of a sophisticated network of billions of interconnected neurons. Precise mapping of the cortical architecture is an essential starting point to learn how cortical circuits account for behavior and cognitive activity, and how alterations in the cytoarchitecture might lead to neurological and psychiatric disorders or dementia. We use multidisciplinary approaches including the genetic MADM (Mosaic Analysis with Double Markers) technology with the aim to trace the logic of how individual neurons successively build up the cortical entity during development. MADM technology offers an unparalleled method to visualize and concomitantly manipulate sparse clones and small subsets of genetically defined neurons at the single cell level in mice. In other words, if one imagines looking at a forest afar it is very difficult to recognize the trimming of a single branch of an individual tree. However, when a single tree stands lonely in a field one can easily observe the snip of even the finest branches of that tree. Similarly, with the MADM method we can now navigate through the dense brain meshwork and follow individual neurons and their fine branches in differently shining red and green colors. An added critical feature of MADM is the possibility to not only label single cells but at the same time also pursue genetic manipulations: it is feasible to label certain neurons that are wild-type in one color, say green. At the same time, MADM can also label in red genetically mutant neighboring sisters of the ‘healthy’ green cells. This allows comparison of wild-type and mutant neurons side by side. We apply MADM to study the fundamental cellular, molecular and epigenetic mechanisms underlying the critical neurodevelopmental processes that control the assembly of the cortex cytoarchitecture.

Simon Hippenmeyer
Institute of Science and Technology Austria (IST Austria)
Am Campus 1
A – 3400 Klosterneuburg

Phone: +43 (0)2243 9000-5101

CV and publication list

Hippenmeyer Group website

Dana Domnisor

Phone: +43 (0)2243 9000-1096

Open Positions in the Hippenmeyer Laboratory

We are currently looking for postdocs and PhD students. Candidates with a strong background in Molecular Biology are particularly encouraged to apply. Experience with next generation sequencing, live-imaging or mouse genetics is an asset. Postdoc candidates send their application including CV, and statement of motivation and research interests to PhD student candidates should apply directly at the IST Austria Graduate School.


  • Nicole Amberg (Postdoc)
  • Robert Beattie (Postdoc)
  • Laura Bocanegra (Rotation Student)
  • Laura Burnett (Rotation Student)
  • Ximena Contreras (PhD Student)
  • Andi Hansen (PhD Student)
  • Susanne Laukoter (PhD Student)
  • Florian Pauler (Technician)
  • Julio Rodarte (Technician)
  • Olivia Slepecka (Student Intern)
  • Johanna Sonntag (Technician)
  • Carmen Streicher (Technician)
  • Aysan Cerag Yahya (Student Intern)

Selected Publications

  • Hippenmeyer, S., Youn, YH., Moon, HM., Miyamichi, K., Zong, H., Wynshaw-Boris, A. & Luo, L. (2010). Genetic Mosaic Dissection of Lis1 and Ndel1 in Neuronal Migration. Neuron 68 (4): 695-709.
  • Hippenmeyer, S., Johnson, RL. & Luo, L. (2013). Mosaic Analysis with Double Markers Reveals Cell Type Specific Paternal Dominance. Cell Reports, 3: 960-967.
  • Gao P, Postiglione MP, Krieger TG, Hernandez L, Wang C, Han Z, Streicher C, Papusheva E, Insolera R, Chugh K, Kodish O, Huang K, Simons BD, Luo L, Hippenmeyer S, Shi SH. 2014. Deterministic Progenitor Behavior and Unitary Production of Neurons in the Neocortex. Cell 159(4), 775-788.

Selected Reviews

  • Hippenmeyer, S. (2013). Dissection of Gene Function at Clonal Level using Mosaic Analysis with Double Markers. Frontiers in Biology, 8(6): 557-568.
  • Hippenmeyer, S. (2014). Molecular Pathways Controlling the Sequential Steps of Cortical Neuron Migration. Advances in Experimental Medicine and Biology (Editors: L. Nguyen and S. Hippenmeyer), 800: 1-24.
  • Postiglione, MP. & Hippenmeyer, S. (2014). Monitoring Neurogenesis in the Cerebral Cortex – an Update. Future Neurology, 9(3): 323-340.


Since 2012 Assistant Professor, IST Austria
2011-2012 Research Associate, Stanford University, Palo Alto, USA
2006-2011 Postdoctoral Fellow, Stanford University, Palo Alto, USA
2004-2006 Postdoctoral Associate, University of Basel and Friedrich Miescher Institute for Biomedical Research, Basel, Switzerland
2004 PhD, University of Basel and Friedrich Miescher Institute for Biomedical Research, Basel, Switzerland

Selected Distinctions

2016 ERC Consolidator Grant
2014 HFSP Grant
2013 Marie Curie Career Integration Grant
2009-2011 SNF Fellowship for Advanced Researchers
2007-2009 HFSP Long-Term Fellowship
2006 EMBO Long-Term Fellowship
2005 Natural Sciences Faculty Prize (University of Basel)
2005 Edmond H. Fischer Prize

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