Sten Linnarsson


Sten Linnarsson took his PhD at Karolinska Institute in 2001, studying neurotrophic factors regulating neuronal survival, growth and plasticity. He then founded Global Genomics, a company focused on genome-wide expression analysis and next-generation DNA sequencing. In 2007, he was appointed as assistant professor at the Karolinska Institute, Department of Medical Biochemistry and Biophysics, and in 2015, was appointed Professor of Molecular Systems Biology at the same department. Also in 2015, he was awarded the Erik K. Fernström Prize for his work in single-cell biology.

Linnarsson’s research focuses on single-cell biology, in particular applying single-cell expression analysis to characterize the cell types and lineages of the mouse nervous system. The long-term goal of his research is to map the stable cellular states (‘cell types’) that human organs are made of, and to understand the regulatory networks that induce and maintain them; both in normal tissues and in cancer.


An atlas of mouse brain cell types

Gioele La Manno, Alessandro Furlan, Amit Zeisel, Hannah Hochgerner, Sten Linnarsson

Division of Molecular Neurobiology, Department of Medical Biochemistry and Biophysics, Karolinska Institutet, 17177 Stockholm, Sweden

The mammalian brain is arguably the most complex organ in all biology. To understand its function, we need to first understand its parts (the cell types) and how they are created during embryogenesis. In a large-scale effort, we have now used single-cell RNA-seq to create an atlas of the developing and adolescent mouse nervous system, including the brain as well as sensory, sympathetic and enteric ganglia. We classify cell types and infer lineage relationships during development. I discuss past, present and future work on the road to a full molecular understanding of the cellular architecture of the mammalian nervous system; demonstrate successful discovery and functional characterization of previously unrecognized cell types, with examples from vascular, glial, sympathetic, hippocampal and midbrain dopaminergic systems; and report on our efforts to address the technological, computational and biological challenges of applying whole-brain single-cell RNA-seq towards a fuller understanding of how the brain is built.


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