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We dissect the molecular and cellular mechanisms underlying a range of developmental and reproductive processes.

Secondary cells shown as a cluster of 16 cells (green) next to a larger cell (red) © Benjamin Kroeger
Intracellular compartments in Drosophila secondary cells

Understanding growth, evolution and the onset of disease

Our development and cell biology theme is home to the largest assembly of developmental biologists in the University, and tackles research questions fundamental to understanding evolution, growth, organ formation, the onset of disease and tissue regeneration.

While our research interests are diverse and necessarily cut across other themes with the department, all of our work is guided by a fundamental desire to dissect the molecular and cellular mechanisms which underlie developmental and reproductive processes. The majority of our work is conducted in vivo, embracing the inherent complexity of using model organisms in order to acquire the most clinically relevant findings possible.

Our research is, through necessity, multidisciplinary, bringing together techniques such as state-of-the-art live cell imaging and genetic analysis to understand the developmental, evolutionary, and reproductive aspects of life. Our researchers currently study some of the most fundamental questions facing biology today: how cells are regulated to move and correctly develop embryos, for instance, or the basic science which dictates healthy development of cerebral and cardiovascular systems.

Unsurprisingly, our research is having a significant impact on clinical thinking. While some aspects of our work focus  specifically on disease-related problems - such as the regulation of growth and its relevance to cancer and diabetes - others tackle issues that look set to become increasingly important in the near future, such as how to restore embryonic potential to adult stem cells for tissue repair.

All told, we believe that by understanding development, it is possible to shed light on some of the current and future challenges in translating basic biological understanding into clinical medicine.



Groups within this theme

Optical probing of neural networks in the developing neocortex
Butt Group

Optical probing of neural networks in the ...

Regulation of blood and lymphatic vessel development
De Val Group

Regulation of blood and lymphatic vessel ...

Genetic Dissection of Sexual Behaviour
Goodwin Group

Genetic Dissection of Sexual Behaviour

Cerebral Cortical Development and Evolution
Molnar Group

Cerebral Cortical Development and Evolution

Heart regeneration & development
Mommersteeg Group

Heart regeneration & development

Cardio-immuno genomics
Simões Group

Cardio-immuno genomics

Development, homeostasis and regeneration of the cardiovascular system
Smart Group

Development, homeostasis and regeneration of the ...

Investigating the Genetic and Environmental Causes of Congenital Heart Disease
Sparrow Group

Investigating the Genetic and Environmental ...

Patterning and morphogenesis of the early mammalian embryo
Srinivas Group

Patterning and morphogenesis of the early ...

Spatiotemporal dissection of vascular heterogeneity
Stone Group

Spatiotemporal dissection of vascular ...

We study postnatal and adult mammalian brain stem cells to uncover fundamental developmental mechanisms and disease pathogenesis.
Szele Group

We study postnatal and adult mammalian brain stem ...

Investigating regulatory mechanisms of cardiac development, repair and regeneration.
Vieira Group

Investigating regulatory mechanisms of cardiac ...

Exosomes, Microcarriers and Regulated Secretion: Complex Forms of Inter-Cellular and Inter-Organism Communication
Wilson Group

Exosomes, Microcarriers and Regulated Secretion: ...

Latest news

Key cause of type 2 diabetes uncovered

Research led by Dr Elizabeth Haythorne and Professor Frances Ashcroft reveals high blood glucose reprograms the metabolism of pancreatic beta-cells in diabetes. They have discovered that glucose metabolites, rather than glucose itself, are key to the progression of type 2 diabetes. Glucose metabolites damage pancreatic beta-cell function, so they are unable to release enough of the hormone insulin. Reducing the rate at which glucose is metabolised, and these glucose metabolites build up, can prevent the effects of hyperglycaemia.

New study shows clinical symptoms for Alzheimer’s can be predicted in preclinical models

Establishing preclinical models of Alzheimer’s that reflect in-life clinical symptoms of each individual is a critically important goal, yet so far it has not been fully realised. A new collaborative study from the University of Oxford has demonstrated that clinical vulnerability to an abnormally abundant protein in Alzheimer’s brain is in fact reflected in individual patient induced pluripotent stem cell-derived cortical neurons.

Updating the circuit maps of the sympathetic neural network

A new review from Professor Ana Domingos’ lab and colleagues offers a fresh modern viewpoint on sympathetic neurons and their relation to immune cells and obesity.