Research & Resources
We are working on a variety of problems concerning the creation of form during development (i.e. morphogenesis). We also have an engineering and theory focus to broaden the quantitative tools available to address the morphogenesis questions
Currently, we are developing several specific projects: 1). Measuring tissue forces in the early chicken embryo and assessing the role of molecular and cellular dynamics in producing such forces (e.g., Xiong et al., 2020, Chan, Xiong et al., 2023); 2). Understanding the mechanism and robustness of bilateral symmetry in the formation of vertebrate body axis; 3). Understanding the contribution of paraxial forces in the folding and closure of the neural tube. 4). Gene expression and biochemical changes of cells in a tissue area that's under a graded mechanical environment or mechanical stresses from other tissues. 5) The role and regulation of global tension on the morphogenesis of the early embryo (e.g., Kunz et al., 2023). 6) The role of lumen pressure on tissue shape and cell fate choices in the neural tube. 7) The interplay between cells and their mechanical environment probed by magnetic nanorobotics. With collaborators, we are also looking at how cell dynamics change tissue mechanical properties and tissue shape in different systems. To pursue these lines of research, we have acquired and created a set of mechanical tools for measurement and perturbation on the live chicken embryo.
We are located on level 1 of the Gurdon institute, the main lab is equipped with the usual molecular lab capacity (centrifuges, gel docs, heatblocks, etc). Embryology: 5x Dissection stations with incubators, stereoscopes and sets of surgical tools; Egg storage and processing fridges and freezers. We also have a well-equipped engineering workstation for electronic and mechanical tool building. Equipment: Olympus FV confocal, Zeiss Axio Observer 7 Timelapse station, Leica MZ10 fluorescent upright scope, Custom automatic embryo screening scope, Custom modified Tissue Force Microscope (TiFM) using an Axio Observer base, Custom simple TiFM, Picoscale interferometer, Custom magnetic nanoparticle imaging scope, Custom magnetic guide, Custom pressure controller, Custom 3D fibre printer, a simple atomic force microscope, Custom puller and tension sensor, Custom embryo stretcher. In addition, we have access to shared equipment including cryostat, needle pullers, RT-PCR and a variety of cutting edge microscopes such as Lightsheet, SPIM, spinning disk and electron microscopes via the Gurdon imaging facility and the Cambridge Advanced Imaging Centre (CAIC).