Living systems have evolved intriguing mechanisms of self-regulation to unfold their physical shape and maintain their robust functioning. During development, differentiated cells have to be generated in the right number and sequence; during adult life, stem cells and specialised cells have to coordinate their activity and proliferation cycles in order to maintain the function of organs and repair injuries. In all these different contexts, the robust collective behaviour of cell populations relies on their capacity to self-regulate, which emerges from the interplay between local cellular operations and intercellular coupling. When this interplay is compromised, diseases such as cancer or diabetes arise.

In many cases, cells and their surrounding tissues constitute a homeostatic ‘ecosystem’ that can be described in terms of niche interactions, cellular diversity, adaptation, collaboration, selective advantage and competition for resources. How do such ecological principles shape the collective behaviour of cell populations within organisms and ensure their correct development, homeostasis and coordination in a self-organised way? And how do diseased tissues such as tumours exploit interactions with their healthy environment to hijack self-regulatory mechanisms and form their own niche environments?

reseARch topics

Theoretical Biology
Stem cell fate dynamics
  • Adult neurogenesis
  • Germ line maintenance
  • Stomach gland homeostasis
  • Cancer stem cells
Morphogenesis and developmental pattern formation
  • Somitogenesis
  • Neurogenesis
  • Genetic oscillations
  • Biochemical signal transduction
  • Theoretical Physics
    Non-equilibrium and statistical physics
    • Active matter
    • Population dynamics
    Nonlinear and stochastic dynamics
    • Coupled oscillators
    • Nonlinear time series analysis
    Electronic synchronisation technologies