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Emmy Noether-Group for Stem Cell Biology

University of Freiburg, Institute of Anatomy & Cell Biology, Molecular Embryology, Albertstr. 17, 79104 Freiburg, Germany

Our lab is interested in unraveling the mechanisms governing growth and differentiation in the developing nervous system. Our current focus is the identification of cell-contact- as well as diffusible factor-mediated determinants of neural lineage specification.

We utilize human pluripotent stem cells (embryonic stem cells and induced pluripotent stem cells) as the chief model system, complemented with primary neural cell cultures, tumor cell lines and transgenic mouse model systems. Important techniques include a number of cell and tissue culture-based assays, state-of-the-art molecular and cell biology, flow cytometry and FACS, histological analysis and microscopy.

What drives our work is the desire to uncover fundamental mechanisms of mammalian (human) neural lineage specification and morphogenesis. Despite fantastic progress in neurobiology, genetics and developmental biology over the past decade, we are currently unable to direct stem cell development in vitro in a fully predictable manner. While we have learned plenty about many players in the gene regulatory networks underlying development, we are still unaware of the extrinsic cues guing neural tissue morphogenesis and spatially appropriate patterning. In consequence, we set out to elucidate the mechanisms of reciprocal cell interactions during neural development.