Organoids are 3-dimensional, miniaturized and simplified versions of organs. They are produced through the differentiation of stem cells in vitro and are to replicate part of the complexity of their in vivo tissues. Organoids have been gaining attention in the last 10 years, after the development of several protocols that enable their reproducible and stable growth. These include brain organoids, but also colon, stomach, kidney and other tissues.
Organoids hold the promise of replacing traditional animal model systems to a large degree. First, organoids derived from human stem cells have the potential of modeling human diseases and capturing biology at a more accurate level than other model systems. A prime example comes from the study of the Zika virus: scientists employed human brain organoids to study the effects of the infection upon the human brain development causing microcephaly. Second, organoid models are emerging as a way to reduce the numbers of animal models, - such as mice - that today need to be sacrificed in order to understand and
treat human diseases, therefore paving the way for more ethical and sustainable science.
In this Q-team the students will use state-of-the-art tools to analyze single-cell RNA sequencing datasets and explore organoids stemming from different tissues, and/or within a disease state. The main research task will be to identify whether the chosen organoids recapitulate the cell type composition and the complexity of their native in vivo tissues with accuracy and reproducibility in health and disease. The students will form teams to study an organ and disease of choice and will leverage publicly available datasets and dataset integration tools to compare organoids with human references from large-scale, international studies (e.g. the Human Cell Atlas). The Q-team will include students from both biological and computational backgrounds to work on these questions.
Registration for the Q-team is handled through the lecturers
In your registration request, please provide information on your academic background and on your programming skills.