Genetic analysis of vertebrate organogenesis

The Institute of Cardiovascular Organogenesis and Regeneration focusses on both the development and the physiology of the vascular ystem, as well as the formation of mneralized bone tissue. We use zebrafish and mice as model systems, since they offer complementary advantages in terms of in vivo imaging (zebrafish) and genetics.

The overall goal of the group is to understand how genes control organ development and how they govern cell behaviour during early embryogenesis. Consequently, we use forward and reverse genetics in zebrafish, and reverse genetics in mice, to generate mutants that lack specific gene functions and that develop phenotypes which are informative in terms of endothelial cell behaviour and osteobast biology. Particularly in zebrafish we then have the opportunity to study the effect of genetic variations on cell behaviour at the organismal and the single cell level. We have developed many transgenic lines over the years that allow us to distinguish between arterial, venous and lymphatic endothelial cells within the same living embryo (likewise for chondrocytes, osteoblasts and osteoclasts), and high resolution confocal microscopy enables us to use these lines to go down to the single cell level in order to understand how blood and lymphatic vessels and the skeleton develop and function.

We have a strong educational focus, and a lively international environment where emphasis is placed on training interactive PhD students and Post docs that have the skill-set to advance their careers in any desired direction.