Seth Shipman and his team develop innovative strategies to manipulate cells for discovery and therapeutic purposes. Using CRISPR, Shipman developed a way to record the order in which genes turn on in a living cell. Now the team is using that technology to understand how the order of gene expression during development drives the formation of different cells types and tissues. They’re also building brain circuits from the ground up, using stem cell–derived neurons as starting material, to understand the mechanisms by which neurons communicate. These studies are crucial to understanding both normal brain development and neuropsychiatric disease.
Areas of Expertise
The philosophy driving Shipman’s research is to identify a technical limitation in a given field and tackle it with innovative approaches borrowing from diverse fields, such as bioengineering, genetics, systems and synthetic biology, neuroscience, microbiology, and chemical biology. With this mindset, Shipman addresses the fundamental question of the relative timing of gene expression with a technology that logs a record of sequential events in the DNA of living cells. His lab is also getting at the fundamentals of neuronal connectivity using single neurons in culture and a battery of genome modification tools to identify the minimal gene set required for neurons to establish functional circuits.
Assistant Investigator, Gladstone Institutes
Assistant Professor, Department of Bioengineering and Therapeutic Sciences, UC San Francisco
Shipman holds a BA in neuroscience from Wesleyan University and a PhD in neuroscience from UC San Francisco, where he worked with Roger Nicoll to understand the molecular events that drive formation of synapses in the brain. His graduate work uncovered how a family of adhesion molecules, called neuroligins, can influence both synaptogenesis and plasticity. Shipman conducted postdoctoral research in genetics, synthetic biology, and stem cell biology at Harvard Medical School and Harvard University with George Church and Jeffrey Macklis, where he developed an approach to store information into the genomic DNA of living cells. This work was featured in The New York Times, The Atlantic, and elsewhere, and was named as one of Discover magazine’s top 25 stories of the year.
“I came to Gladstone to tackle the biggest questions about human disease, but with the freedom to use innovative approaches and follow the science wherever it takes me.”
Honors and Awards
2019 SFARI Bridge to Independence Award
2018 National Academy of Sciences Workshop on Scientific Convergence (Invited Panelist)
2018 DARPA Riser, DARPA 60th Anniversary Symposium
2014 Life Science Research Foundation Postdoctoral Award
2012 Gordon Research Conference, Poster Award
2012 Earle C Anthony Travel Award
2008 Graduate Research Fellowship, Honorable Mention, National Science Foundation
2007 Graduate Research Fellowship, Honorable Mention, National Science Foundation
2001 Outstanding Physics Student Scholarship
- A comprehensive library of human transcription factors for cell fate engineering. Ng AHM, Khoshakhlagh P, Rojo Arias JE, Pasquini G, Wang K, Swiersy A, Shipman SL, Appleton E, Kiaee K, Kohman RE, Vernet A, Dysart M, Leeper K, Saylor W, Huang JY, Graveline A, Taipale J, Hill DE, Vidal M, Melero-Martin JM, Busskamp V, Church GM. Nat Biotechnol. 2020 Nov 30.
- Spontaneous CRISPR loci generation in vivo by non-canonical spacer integration. Nivala J, Shipman SL, Church GM. Nat Microbiol. 2018 03; 3(3):310-318.
- CRISPR-Cas encoding of a digital movie into the genomes of a population of living bacteria. Shipman SL, Nivala J, Macklis JD, Church GM. Nature. 2017 07 20; 547(7663):345-349.
- Molecular recordings by directed CRISPR spacer acquisition. Shipman SL, Nivala J, Macklis JD, Church GM. Science. 2016 Jul 29; 353(6298):aaf1175.
- The cellular and molecular landscape of neuroligins. Bemben MA, Shipman SL, Nicoll RA, Roche KW. Trends Neurosci. 2015 Aug; 38(8):496-505.
- Rapid neurogenesis through transcriptional activation in human stem cells. Busskamp V, Lewis NE, Guye P, Ng AH, Shipman SL, Byrne SM, Sanjana NE, Murn J, Li Y, Li S, Stadler M, Weiss R, Church GM. Mol Syst Biol. 2014 Nov 17; 10:760.
- CaMKII phosphorylation of neuroligin-1 regulates excitatory synapses. Bemben MA, Shipman SL, Hirai T, Herring BE, Li Y, Badger JD, Nicoll RA, Diamond JS, Roche KW. Nat Neurosci. 2014 Jan; 17(1):56-64.
- Distance-dependent scaling of AMPARs is cell-autonomous and GluA2 dependent. Shipman SL, Herring BE, Suh YH, Roche KW, Nicoll RA. J Neurosci. 2013 Aug 14; 33(33):13312-9.
- Dimerization of postsynaptic neuroligin drives synaptic assembly via transsynaptic clustering of neurexin. Shipman SL, Nicoll RA. Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2012 Nov 20; 109(47):19432-7.
- A subtype-specific function for the extracellular domain of neuroligin 1 in hippocampal LTP. Shipman SL, Nicoll RA. Neuron. 2012 Oct 18; 76(2):309-16.
- Functional dependence of neuroligin on a new non-PDZ intracellular domain. Shipman SL, Schnell E, Hirai T, Chen BS, Roche KW, Nicoll RA. Nat Neurosci. 2011 Jun; 14(6):718-26.
- Absence of established sex differences in patients with schizophrenia on a two-dimensional object array task. Shipman SL, Baker EK, Pearlson G, Astur RS. Psychiatry Res. 2009 Apr 30; 166(2-3):158-65.
- Factors affecting the hippocampal BOLD response during spatial memory. Shipman SL, Astur RS. Behav Brain Res. 2008 Mar 05; 187(2):433-41.