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Design Principles of Branching Morphogenesis

Objective

Branching morphogenesis, the process by which branched organs such as the lung, prostate, kidney or mammary gland are generated, is a paradigmatic example of complex developmental processes bridging multiple scales. The mechanisms through which given molecular signals and cellular behaviours give rise to a robust organ structure remains a fundamental and open question, for which theoretical methods are needed. Our experience in modelling cytoskeletal mechanics, stem cell dynamics and branching processes puts us in a unique position to tackle this fascinating problem, by combining systems biology and biophysical approaches at multiple scales. In particular, we will focus on:

1. Understanding how stochastic rules lead to robust morphogenetic outputs at the organ scale, and which constraints and optimal design principles they impose on physiological function.
2. Characterizing at the cellular scale the bi-directional feedbacks coordinating fate choices of stem/progenitor cells and niche signals during the extensive remodelling events that branching morphogenesis entails.
3. Developing at the subcellular and cellular scale an integrated mechanochemical theory of pattern formation in branched organs, to understand the coordination of mechanical forces and chemical signals defining their global structure.

Towards these goals, we will combine analytical and numerical tools with data analysis methods, to reach a quantitative understanding of the emergent mechanisms driving branching morphogenesis. We will challenge our theoretical predictions with published datasets available for different organs, as well as design specific experimental tests in collaboration with experimental biology groups. This will allow us to compare and contrast different systems, and extract generic classes of design principles of organogenesis across length scales. With this, we expect to generate novel insights of broad relevance for the fields of systems, computational and developmental biology.
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Host institution

INSTITUTE OF SCIENCE AND TECHNOLOGYAUSTRIA

Address

Am Campus 1
3400 Klosterneuburg

Austria

Activity type

Higher or Secondary Education Establishments

EU Contribution

€ 1 452 604

Beneficiaries (1)

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INSTITUTE OF SCIENCE AND TECHNOLOGYAUSTRIA

Austria

EU Contribution

€ 1 452 604

Project information

Grant agreement ID: 851288

Status

Grant agreement signed

  • Start date

    1 April 2020

  • End date

    31 March 2025

Funded under:

H2020-EU.1.1.

  • Overall budget:

    € 1 452 604

  • EU contribution

    € 1 452 604

Hosted by:

INSTITUTE OF SCIENCE AND TECHNOLOGYAUSTRIA

Austria