The development of complex multicellular organisms from a fertilized egg cell continues to pose some of the most intriguing and challenging problems in modern biology. Life at this level is governed by complex regulatory processes and disentangling these has proved difficult. Yet there are a few physical processes that are believed to underlie the differentiation into different cell types, tissue formation, organogenesis and form and function of life more generally. The outcome of these processes can be shown to be highly replicable, robust and capable of producing the complexity we observe in nature. This project proposes to reconstruct, rationally and using only biological components, such pattern generating processes de novo. For this purpose a combination of developmental, systems and synthetic biology and mathematical modelling will be used. Ability to forward engineer such pattern forming processes will fundamentally alter the understanding of the processes underpinning life, and ultimately the ability to affect developmental processes in health and disease.
Signal transduction networks play a major role in ensuring normal function of living cells, and constitute a strong research focus in fields ranging from biotechnology to medicine. In this project, a novel modeling method rooting in logic-based approaches and specifically tailored to signaling networks will be developed in close cooperation with life scientists from plant sciences and medical research. Building upon ideas from network modularization, it will be highly suited to discovering and analyzing subnetworks crucial for regulatory effects, stability and perturbation processing. The project will advance our grasp of the signaling mechanisms of interest to our cooperation partners, namely cytokinin signaling in plants as well as oncogenic RAS/RAF signaling in humans, and supply modeling tools capable of supporting signal transduction research in all areas of systems biology.