Self-Organization of Biological Systems
The main goal of our laboratory is to uncover which genetic and cellular mechanisms control multicellular self-organization. To do so, we study how embryonic stem cells are able to spontaneously self-organize when cultured in three dimensional aggregates called Embryoid Bodies. Our research focuses on two main areas:
i) Studying which self-organizing gene regulatory network underlies germ layer specification in mouse Embryoid Bodies and characterizing its role during normal mouse development
ii) Understanding which external stimuli and which cellular behaviors drive Embryoid Bodies elongation and gastrulation
We address these questions by using a multidisciplinary systems biology approach that combines experiments, three-dimensional Lightsheet microscopy and computational modeling. Our long-term goal is to develop a comprehensive multicellular model of germ layer patterning to explore how gene regulatory networks, cellular behaviors and external signals are coupled by feedback to control patterning and morphogenesis. This integrative approach will allow us to understand the role of self-organization during embryonic development and to devise novel strategies for tissue-engineering.