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Editor biographies

Editor-in-Chief

 James Briscoe

James Briscoe

Research interests
James Briscoe is a senior group leader at the Francis Crick Institute in London. He obtained a BSc from the University of Warwick, UK, a PhD at the Imperial Cancer Research Fund, London and then undertook postdoctoral training at Columbia University, New York, USA. In 2000 he moved to the Medical Research Council's National Institute for Medical Research (now part of the Francis Crick Institute). His research interests include the molecular and cellular mechanisms of graded signalling by morphogens and the role of transcriptional networks in the specification of cell fate in the vertebrate central nervous system. To address these questions his lab uses a range of experimental and computational techniques with model systems that include mouse and chick embryos and embryonic stem cells.

Areas of expertise
Vertebrate development, morphogen signaling, gene regulatory networks, spinal cord, dynamical systems modelling.

Deputy Editor

Steve Wilson

Steve Wilson

Research interests
Steve Wilson is Professor of Developmental Genetics and Vice-Dean for Research in the Faculty of Life Sciences at University College London (UCL). He has 20 years of experience working with zebrafish as a model system to study nervous system and mesoderm development. His research team has defined roles for various signalling pathways in regional patterning of the forebrain and in regulating the cell movements that occur during morphogenesis. A major focus for his recent work has been on the development of CNS asymmetry from the early events that lead to the breaking of symmetry between left and right sides of the brain through the development of lateralized circuitry to behaviour. His group is also studying eye development and the developmental neuroanatomy of the brain.

Areas of expertise
Zebrafish neural development, forebrain development, asymmetry/laterality.

Editors

 Paola Arlotta

Paola Arlotta

Research interests
Paola Arlotta is a Professor of Stem Cell and Regenerative Biology at Harvard University and an associate member of the Stanley Center for Psychiatric Research at the Broad Institute of Harvard and M.I.T. She is also the co-director of the Neuroscience program at the Harvard Stem Cell Institute. She is interested in understanding the molecular laws that govern the birth, differentiation, and assembly into working circuitry of clinically relevant neuron types in the cerebral cortex. The complexity of the nervous system fascinates her and she is driven to integrate developmental and evolutionary knowledge to inform novel strategies for circuit repair in the cortex and for modelling of human neuropsychiatric disease.

Areas of expertise
Cerebral cortex, neural development, stem cells, brain organoids, neuronal diversity.

 Swathi Arur

Swathi Arur

Research interests
Swathi Arur is an Associate Professor of Genetics and President’s Scholar at the University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center. Her laboratory aims to uncover fundamental cellular and molecular mechanisms of germ cell development and adaptability in response to physiological and environmental perturbations. Her lab studies the role of RAS/ERK signaling in the coordination of multiple cellular processes during oogenesis in the model organism Caenorhabditis elegans. A second area of focus in her lab is to extend fundamental discoveries made in C. elegans to develop mouse models that provide new insights into developmental control of cancer progression.

Areas of expertise
C. elegans, Cancer development and progression, Cell Signaling, Germ cell development, Meiosis, Oogenesis, Small non-coding RNAs.

Swathi joined the editorial team in July 2020, replacing Susan Strome.

 Benoit Bruneau

Benoit Bruneau

Research interests
Benoit G. Bruneau is Associate Director and William H. Younger, Jr. Senior Investigator at the Gladstone Institute of Cardiovascular Disease, and Professor in the Department of Pediatrics at the University of California, San Francisco. His research focuses on how transcription factors and chromatin remodelling complexes regulate cardiac organogenesis and differentiation in order to understand fundamental aspects of gene regulation during lineage commitment and differentiation, and to uncover the basis of congenital and inherited heart disease. Combining stem cell biology and mouse genetics, Dr Bruneau’s research is also aimed at understanding the patterning cues that guide cardiac development, and developing strategies for regenerative medicine and disease modelling.

Areas of expertise
Heart development, cardiac differentiation, chromatin, epigenetics, transcriptional regulation, reprogramming.

Cassandra Extavour

Cassandra Extavour

Research interests
Cassandra Extavour is a Professor in the Department of Organismic and Evolutionary Biology at Harvard University. Her laboratory is interested in understanding early embryonic development, the genes that control this, the evolutionary origin of those genes and how their functions have changed over evolutionary time. Because of the critical role of germ cells not only in development but also in evolution, her work has primarily focused on germ cell development in a comparative context, using a range of arthropod systems.

Areas of expertise
Evo-devo, germ line development, evolution of arthropod body plans, tools for emerging model organisms.

Francois Guillemot

François Guillemot

Research interests
François Guillemot is a Group Leader at The Francis Crick Institute, London, UK. His group uses the mouse forebrain as a model to address how the development of neural lineages is controlled by intrinsic genetic programmes and extracellular signals. They use a variety of genetic, genomic and imaging approaches to determine how interactions between transcription factors and signalling pathways regulate the different steps of neurogenesis, from the divisions and fate specification of stem cells to the migration and differentiation of neurons.

Areas of expertise
Neural development, embryonic and adult neurogenesis, cerebral cortex, transcriptional regulation.

Yka Helariutta

Ykä Helariutta

Research interests
Ykä Helariutta is Professor of Plant Developmental Biology at the Sainsbury Laboratory University of Cambridge and at the University of Helsinki. He is interested in understanding vascular development in plants in a broad sense: how the vascular pattern is established; how the conductive cells differentiate; and how they interact with the surrounding tissues. He uses Arabidopsis thaliana as aprimary model but is also investigating how the basic molecular mechanisms operate in species with an extensive vascular domain, such as in tree species.

Areas of expertise
Plant development, plant genetics, Arabidopsis, plant hormone signalling, phloem.

Haruhiko Koseki

Haruhiko Koseki

Research interests
Haruhiko Koseki is Group Director at the RIKEN Center for Allergy and Immunology in Yokohama, Japan. The goal of Dr Koseki's research is to understand how cellular phenotypes can be stably retained through development irrespective of environmental cues in some situations, while being altered in response to external signals in others. His work also focuses on how these epigenetic mechanisms control morphogenesis and tissue homeostasis. Towards this end, his laboratory combines mouse genetics, genomic and imaging approaches to study how chromatin modifications regulate stem cell identities, meiosis, patterning and organ development.

Areas of expertise
Mouse genetics, epigenetics, patterning, meiosis, ES cells, axial specifications.

Thomas Lecuit

Thomas Lecuit

Research interests
Thomas Lecuit is Director of Research for CNRS, and a Group Leader at the Developmental Biology Institute of Marseille at Luminy (IBDML) at Marseille University. His laboratory investigates the mechanisms of cell polarisation, tissue morphogenesis and mechanics, using the fruitfly Drosophila as a model system. A major focus of his research is to understand how tissues maintain or lose control of the balance between robustness and plasticity. Dr Lecuit has developed expertise across a range of developmental events, including among them: limb patterning; morphogen gradient formation and activity; gastrulation; and the cell biology of Drosophila development, with a particular emphasis on vesicular trafficking, cytoskeleton organisation/dynamics, adhesion and cell polarity. Beyond the classical approaches that are needed to study embryonic development, such as genetics and molecular biology, Dr Lecuit has acquired special expertise on quantitative imaging of cell and protein dynamics in living embryos, and on the physics and modelling of embryonic development.

Areas of expertise
Drosophila, epithelium, gastrulation, limb patterning, morphogenesis, cell polarity, biophysics.

Liz Robertson

Liz Robertson

Research interests
Liz Robertson is Professor of Developmental Biology and a Wellcome Trust Principal Research Fellow at the Sir William Dunn School of Pathology, University of Oxford. Her work exploits transgenic and embryonic stem (ES) cell technologies to investigate how TGFβ signalling cascades influence cell fate decisions and lineage commitment in the mouse embryo. In particular, her work addresses the role of the nodal/Smad pathway, and the downstream T box transcription factor Eomes, in regulating anterior-posterior axis formation, epithelial to mesenchymal transition, and definitive endoderm specification during establishment of the body plan. A second area of interest is on understanding the mechanism by which the zinc finger transcriptional repressor Blimp1/Prdm1, a target of BMP signalling, regulates the formation of multiple embryonic tissues and organs.

Areas of expertise
Mouse embryogenesis, early axis formation and patterning, nodal signalling, TGFβ signalling, embryonic stem cells.

Patrick Tam

Research interests
Patrick Tam is the Deputy Director of and Head of the Embryology Unit at the Children's Medical Research Institute at the University of Sydney. He is a Senior Principal Research Fellow of the National Health and Medical Research Council of Australia and holds a professorship in the Faculty of Medicine, University of Sydney. Professor Tam pioneered the application of technologies of embryological and genetic manipulation to study the cellular and molecular mechanism of the formation of the basic body plan during embryogenesis and has contributed extensively to the knowledge of cell fates and embryonic patterning during early mouse embryogenesis. His research also encompasses cell membrane proteins in germ cell migration, nucleo-cytoplasmic transport and transcription regulators of gut development. His work on the normal developmental process underpins translational research in his lab on the impact of genetic mutations on birth defects, specifically on the role of basic helix-loop-helix factors on craniofacial development, on WNT and Platelet-derived growth factor signalling in head formation, and on Mecp2 and its role in brain function in mouse models of Rett Syndrome.

Areas of expertise
Embryonic patterning, germ cells, lineage specification, mouse gastrulation, organogenesis, stem cells.

Maria Elena Torres-Padilla

Research interests
Maria Elena Torres-Padilla is the Director of the Institute of Epigenetics and Stem Cells in Munich. Her research group is focused on studying the epigenetics and cell fate in early mammalian development. In mammals, epigenetic reprogramming, the acquisition and loss of totipotency, and the first cell fate decision all occur within a three-day window after fertilization of the oocyte. Molecularly, these processes are poorly understood, yet this knowledge is an essential prerequisite to uncover principles of stem cells, chromatin biology and thus regenerative medicine. Specifically, the Torres-Padilla Lab investigates the dynamics of de novo heterochromatin formation in mammalian embryos; the chromatin remodelling mechanisms and its impacts on cellular plasticity and establishment of totipotency.

Areas of expertise
Cellular plasticity, chromatin remodelling, early embryonic development, epigenetics, pluripotency and totipotency.

James Wells

Research interests
James Wells is an endowed professor at the Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Research Foundation in the Division of Developmental Biology. He is the Director for Basic Research in the Division of Endocrinology and is the Chief Scientific Officer of the Center for Stem Cell and Organoid Medicine. Since starting his lab in 2002, his research has focused on the processes by which gastrointestinal and endocrine organs form in the developing embryo. Over the past 15 years his lab has used the molecular pathways underlying organogenesis to direct the differentiation of human pluripotent stem cells into organoids. Using both human organoids and vertebrate model systems, his lab continues to study organogenesis, identify new mechanisms underlying human congenital defects, and how the endocrine and digestive systems control nutrient homeostasis.

Areas of expertise
Endoderm organogenesis, gastrointestinal tract, endocrine cells, organoids, human pluripotent stem cells.

Associate Editors

Paul François

Research interests
Paul François is Associate Professor in the Physics department at McGill University (Montreal, Canada). His research focuses on the theoretical and computational modelling of biological processes, in close collaboration with experimentalists. Techniques used in his group range from gene network modelling using coupled stochastic differential equations to machine learning approaches such as computational evolution.

Areas of expertise
Theory, modelling, biophysics, segmentation, patterning, cellular decision-making

Matthias Lutolf

Research interests
Matthias Lutolf is a Professor of Life Sciences at EPFL’s Institute of Bioengineering, with a cross appointment in the Institute of Chemical Sciences and Engineering. His research program combines stem cell biology with engineering principles and quantitative thinking. His team uses cutting-edge bioengineering strategies for guiding stem-cell-based development for the assembly of next-generation organoids with improved reproducibility and physiological relevance.

Areas of expertise
Stem cells, organoids, self-organization, morphogenesis, bioengineering, tissue engineering.

Irene Miguel-Aliaga

Research interests
Irene Miguel-Aliaga is Professor of Genetics and Physiology at Imperial College London and Section Chair and Programme Leader at the MRC LMS, London (UK). Her laboratory is interested in organ plasticity and “continued development”. At the interface of development and physiology, their work explores how and why organs that we commonly regard as fully developed change in size or function in response to environmental or internal challenges. They use the intestine and its neurons to tackle these questions, mainly in Drosophila melanogaster.

Areas of expertise
Metabolic control of development, physiology, intestine, Drosophila, sex differences, organ plasticity.

Hanna Mikkola

Research interests
Hanna Mikkola is Professor of Molecular, Cell and Developmental Biology and member of Broad Stem Cell Research Center at University of California Los Angeles. Her lab studies mechanisms that govern the development of hematopoietic and cardiovascular stem/progenitor cells, with the long-term goal to generate these cells in culture for therapeutic use. Her lab combines human developmental and adult HSCs, in vitro differentiation of pluripotent stem cells (PSC), mouse models and state-of-the-art molecular and functional assays to understand mesoderm specification to hemogenic endothelium and self-renewing HSCs, or other stem/progenitor cells in the blood and circulatory system.

Areas of expertise
Developmental hematopoiesis, hematopoietic stem cell self-renewal, cardiovascular development, pluripotent stem cell differentiation, transcriptional regulation.

Samantha Morris

Research interests
Samantha Morris is an Associate Professor of Genetics and Developmental Biology at Washington University in St. Louis. Her laboratory studies the mechanisms of cell reprogramming, focusing on how pioneer transcription factors drive gene expression, epigenetic, and functional changes in cell identity. To enable these studies, her group develops novel, open-source single-cell experimental and computational approaches to longitudinally record lineage and transcriptional regulation during directed reprogramming. With her team, Dr. Morris aims to engineer clinically relevant cell populations, translating new insights in cell fate specification into better models of disease and development.

Areas of expertise
Lineage reprogramming, single-cell biology, transcriptional regulation, early embryonic development.

Ken Poss

Research interests
Ken Poss is James B. Duke Professor of Cell Biology and Director of the Regeneration Next initiative at Duke University. He initiated his independent research program at Duke in 2003 to investigate regenerative biology in the zebrafish model system. Poss discovered heart regeneration in zebrafish, establishing an important natural model of robust cardiac repair, and his lab currently investigates mechanisms of regeneration in many additional tissues and injury contexts. His research goal is to elucidate key cellular behaviors and molecular regulatory events of regeneration, and ultimately for this information to inform how to improve the poor regenerative capacity of human tissues like the heart, spinal cord, and limbs.

Areas of expertise
Regeneration.

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