The development and maintenance of tissues requires the tightly regulated interplay of many cells. But how do these cells self-organise in order to build complex structures such as the heart or the brain? To achieve this the fate of each cell must be precisely regulated. Understanding the mechanistic principles underlying the behaviour of stem and progenitor cells is not only pivotal for the development of stem cell based therapies in regenerative medicine, but also gives rise to challenging questions at the frontier of non equilibrium physics. In collaboration with experimental groups we use methods from statistical physics to study mechanisms of cell fate regulation in tissue development, maintenance and disease. Read more about our research.
The Statistical Physics of Living Systems group was started in 2017 and is embedded into the Biological Physics division of the Max Planck Institute for the Physics of Complex Systems and the Center for Systems Biology in Dresden (Germany). The group maintains close collaborations with experimental groups on the local and international level.
Wound healing is essential to repair the skin after injury. In the epidermis, distinct stem cells (SCs) populations contribute to wound healing. However, how SCs balance proliferation, differentiation and migration to repair a wound remains poorly understood. Here, we study the cellular and molecular mechanisms that regulate wound healing in mouse tail epidermis.
Lineage tracing has become the method of choice to study the fate and dynamics of stem cells. However, current experimental methods often lead to the initial labeling of different cell types and thereby complicating their interpretation. We developed experimental and theoretical methods allowing the definition of multipotency potential.
By combining lineage tracing with transcriptional profiling and marker-based assays, statistical methods are delivering insights into the dynamics of stem cells and their developmental precursors. We review how quantitative lineage tracing strategies are shaping our understanding of the cellular mechanisms of tissue development, maintenance and disease.