Research Groups

Self-Organization of Multicellular Systems

Welcome to our group webpage! We are a joint research group, established in 2021, between the Max Planck Institute for the Physics of Complex Systems (MPI-PKS) and the Max Planck Institute of Molecular Cell Biology and Genetics (MPI-CBG), based at the Center for Systems Biology Dresden (CSBD).

We are theorists, but we closely collaborate with experimentalists, at MPI-CBG and beyond, on problems in theoretical biophysics, applied mathematics, and soft matter physics. Read more about our research projects.

Research Focus

We want to understand how the mechanical properties of individual cells arise from those of their constituents, and in turn give rise to mechanical properties at the level of the tissues that these cells form. Additionally, we want to understand how these mechanical properties affect and constrain tissue deformations during development. Key questions for out work are:

(1) How is robust development possible in spite of large amounts of biological variability and mechanical constraints?

(2) What are the continuum theories that describe biological tissues and the processes of cell migration and cell intercalation that they undergo during development?

Latest Research

Turing's diffusive threshold in random reaction-diffusion systems

Haas & Goldstein, Phys. Rev. Lett. 126, 238101 (2021)

Turing instabilities of reaction-diffusion systems can only arise if the diffusivities of the chemical species are sufficiently different. This threshold is unphysical in most systems with N=2 diffusing species, forcing experimental realizations of the instability to rely on fluctuations or additional nondiffusing species. Here, we ask whether this diffusive threshold lowers for N>2 to allow “true” Turing instabilities. Inspired by May’s analysis of the stability of random ecological communities, we analyze the probability distribution of the diffusive threshold in reaction-diffusion systems defined by random matrices describing linearized dynamics near a homogeneous fixed point. In the numerically tractable cases N<7, we find that the diffusive threshold becomes more likely to be smaller and physical as N increases, and that most of these many-species instabilities cannot be described by reduced models with fewer diffusing species.

We have postdoctoral positions and fully funded PhD student positions available!

Read more about our research interests in theoretical biophysics, mathematical biology, and beyond!