Programme Director: Philip Ingham
Developmental Biology addresses two of the most fundamental questions in biology: how do pluripotent cells give rise to the highly specialised cell types found within the body of an organism? and how are these cells assembled into the intricate patterns and shapes characteristic of different organs?
For decades, these questions have been explored using model laboratory animals, especially fruit flies, chicks, mice and more recently zebrafish. But over the last ten years, the advent of organoids – cell assemblies resembling miniature organs, generated in vitro from stem cells – has opened up the possibility of studying human developmental processes directly.
The ability to image and manipulate human organoids in vitro, combined with the unprecedented resolution of single cell transcriptomic/epigenomic analysis in identifying and plotting the trajectory of distinct cell types, is transforming our understanding of human biology and providing new approaches to the analysis and treatment of diseases.
Researchers at LKCM are working with a variety of organoids – including blood vessels, brain, gut, kidney, lung and pancreas - with the ultimate aim of reversing the effects of degenerative diseases. This is highly interdisciplinary research, combining expertise in stem cell manipulation, high resolution imaging, next generation sequencing and bioinformatics as well as in biomaterial fabrication and microfluidics.
The research is supported by superb infrastructure, including the animal research facility, tissue culture and high-content microscopy facilities, at the Clinical Sciences Building (CSB), Novena Campus.
In complementary research based at the Experimental Medicine Building (EMB), NTU campus, the exceptional regenerative capacity of the zebrafish is being explored with a focus on the central nervous system, skin and musculo-skeletal system.