Creating to understand
We reconstruct development in a dish to
understand how embryos build themselves
Just like bird flocks and snowflakes, embryogenesis is an extraordinary example of self-organisation. The emergence of ordered structures whose complexity exceeds the sum of its parts requires a dynamic dialogue with the cellular environment and the coordination of cellular behaviours in space and time. Understanding how this is achieved to produce a functional organism is complicated in mammalian species because the embryo grows in the womb and is thus obscured from sight. This impediment can be circumvented by building embryo-like-structures from stem cells in a dish: stembryogenesis.
the cues that shape the (st)embryo
Which cellular interactions drive mammalian embryo-like architecture? How are forces, form and fate coordinated? By direct comparison of stembryos with different levels of morphological complexity, we define the information flows that sculpt the embryo across space and time.
learning from variation
The embryo is always right. The stembryo is often wrong. We develop frameworks to use variation as information by backtracking causative developmental dynamics. This delivers novel biological insights and provides means to control and steer development in a dish.
Building better models
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We implement design principles of the embryo to build better stembryos. Moreover, we aim to establish human stembryos from stem cells to study the molecular, cellular and morphogenetic processes that shape the human embryo in health and disease.
“Creativity comes from applying things you learn
in other fields to the field you work in.”
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