Harris Professor in the Child Study Center; Director, Program in Neurodevelopment and Regeneration, Child Study Center; Professor in the Department of Neuroscience
Flora Vaccarino is the Harris Professor at the Child Study Center and Professor in the Department of Neuroscience at Yale University. She received her MD from the University of Padova in Italy. She spent few years as Neuropharmacology Fellow at NIH, trained in clinical psychiatry at Yale, and then was a Research Fellow in developmental genetics at the Yale School of Medicine, where she raised through the ranks to Assistant, Associate and full Professor. Vaccarino leads a multidisciplinary research group working towards new directions for the study of mammalian brain development, particularly human, using stem cell biology and genomics as tools. She has been studying brain development in animal models for over 20 years, focusing on the role of growth factor receptor signaling in the regulation of stem cell behavior and cerebral cortex morphogenesis. Inspired by Sasai’s work, Vaccarino and her lab pioneered the generation of 3D brain organoids from induced pluripotent stem cells (iPSCs) in 2012, and showed that they recapitulate early fetal development of the human cerebral cortex. They then performed an extensive comparison of the organoid’s transcriptome and noncoding elements with isogenic postmortem human fetal cortex and characterized gene regulatory mechanisms that shape the earliest cell fate decisions in human cortical development. Her lab has generated an extensive collection of patient-derived iPSC lines to study altered gene regulatory mechanisms in Autism Spectrum Disorders. Her interests include human somatic genomic variation as a tool to study lineage specification in human embryonic development. She participates to the Brain Somatic Mosaicism Network (BSMN), a multi-site consortium that studies somatic mosaicism and its implication for neuropsychiatric diseases.
Vaccarino is a Fellow of American Association for the Advancement of Science and a member of the PsychENCODE and the Brain Somatic Mosaicism Consortia.