Science for Health
The formation of a functional organ requires the coordination of cellular and molecular programmes governing an intricate sequence of developmental steps, including progenitor specification, their differentiation into specific cell types, as well as organ morphogenesis and growth.
Our group is interested in questions of how particular organ fates are established from multipotent cells and how committed progenitor cells rearrange and direct organ shape and size. We particularly focus on the interactions of inductive signals and tissue competence, as well as morphogenetic cell behaviours and tissue interactions. We study these complex issues by focussing on the formation of the liver within the context of the developing digestive system.
We use the zebrafish Danio rerio as a model organism, because it allows us to combine a wide range of genetic, cell biological and imaging techniques. Also, because in fish, in contrast to other vertebrates, the liver is not the site of embryonic hematopoiesis, permitting the investigation of hepatic development independently of defects due to anemia.
The identification of organ-specific genetic programmes will provide insights not only into the general mechanisms regulating embryonic development, but also tissue homeostasis and regeneration following tissue damage in adults.
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