Vertebrate Developmental Biology
The research of the group aims at investigating the molecular network that underlies the initial steps of nervous system development in vertebrate embryos. In recent years, significant progress has been made in elucidating the signals that are involved. An important realization was that the inductive events are regulated by a small set of cell-cell signaling pathways that are integrated in the embryo and trigger distinct cell fate changes and morphogenetic responses. Our aim is to understand, how key inductive signals interconnect and are regulated during neural development. To this end, we apply molecular and biochemical techniques in Xenopus, complemented by genetic studies in the mouse. The mechanisms that determine cell fate in the developing nervous system are re-used in other aspects of development, and basic principles of cellular signalling are conserved across species. The findings made in vertebrate models can be extended to mammalian stem cells with the perspective to deliver concepts for cell therapeutic applications and the repair of CNS injuries in human.