The control of cell division and cell differentiation during embryonic development.
The rate of cell division and differentiation must be tightly regulated to ensure that an organism develops to its appropriate size and shape. However, the mechanisms determining the timing of cell division and differentiation during development remain poorly understood. We believe that understanding these mechanisms will require integrating biology with ideas and techniques from physics and applied mathematics. Our long-term goal is to elucidate the dynamical principles by which genetic networks control cell decision-making during development.
Using the Drosophila embryo as a model system we combine a wide range of techniques including live imaging, quantitative image and data analysis, mathematical modeling, genetics and molecular cell biology. We are currently investigating the mechanisms controlling the timing of the cell cycle during early embryonic development and developing methods to analyze how signal transduction pathways process biochemical signals. We aim to extend our quantitative methodology to vertebrate systems and have initiated collaborations with groups working on zebrafish regeneration and mouse embryonic development.