In our laboratory we study processes and mechanisms, which govern epithelial morphogenesis and homeostasis, and how their deregulation can lead to developmental defects and cancer. We investigate the interplay of biochemical and mechanical signals in shaping epithelial sheets to functional structures, with particular interests in the role fibroblasts in this process. Our ultimate research goal is to understand, how organs are formed and how tumors emerge.
We use the mammary gland, a paradigmatic branched organ unique to mammals, as our main research model and seek answers to the following main research questions:
How is the branched pattern of glandular organs formed?
What is the functional role of fibroblast heterogeneity in mammary gland development?
How do fibroblast-mediated developmental programs contribute to tumor formation?
Our research strategy combines advanced 3D cell culture models and organoids, state-of-the-art imaging techniques, genetic mouse models, single-cell and spatial transcriptomic analyses, mathematical modeling, and AI-driven image analysis.