Start of the first DRESDEN-concept Research Group

Dr. Rita Mateus joins the Dresden research community with her research on organ growth and structural colors.

Rita Mateus © MPI-CBG

Portuguese scientist, Dr. Rita Mateus, is newly appointed and first DRESDEN-concept Research Group Leader. She joined the Dresden community in February 2021. Her position is joint between the Cluster of Excellence Physics of Life (PoL) at the TU Dresden and the Max Planck Institute of Molecular Cell Biology and Genetics (MPI-CBG) with tenure track to a TU Dresden Professorship. Dr. Mateus and her research lab will work with zebrafish in order to understand how animals control their organ size. Moreover, Dr. Mateus is interested in understanding the physics and cell biology of animal reflectors.

“We at DRESDEN-concept (DDc) are very pleased that the DRESDEN-concept Alliance is now represented in the form of joint junior research groups”, says the rector of the TU Dresden, Prof. Ursula M. Staudinger. “For the alliance, this form of cooperation is an important step towards a Science and Innovation Campus Dresden. DDc plans to provide specific support to individual junior research groups that are particularly committed to the alliance.” Dr. Mateus mentions her motivation to come to Dresden: “Dresden is a reference community in the Developmental Biology field. It’s really exciting to be part of a new project. Once I got the offer, I stopped applying, because this was my dream place to come and establish my lab.”

With her research group, Dr. Mateus is planning to understand how organs grow in the zebrafish, using the fin as a model: “Evolution brings us incredible diversity in animal size and shape, but remarkably, our organs and limbs remain proportional to our body size,” Dr. Mateus explains. “How do organs measure and control their size? This is a crucial question that has remained long unsolved in Biology. We aim to answer it by studying biophysical modes of cellular communication” she adds.

A second research question in her group is why fish are shiny. The answer lies in structural coloration: Fish cells contain light reflecting photonic crystals, which have not been very much explored so far. The “shininess” that zebrafish have in their stripes allows a proper camouflage in the wild. The interdisciplinary and collaborative team will bridge expertise between experimental, computational and theoretical approaches here in Dresden.

Prof. Stephan Grill, speaker of PoL and Director at the MPI-CBG on the appointment: “We welcome Rita Mateus in Dresden. Her research is incredibly exciting and lies right at the interface between Biology and Physics. And, as the first appointed DRESDEN-concept research group leader, she will strengthen the ties between TU Dresden and MPI-CBG.”

Dr. Mateus accomplished her MSc in Molecular Biology and Genetics at the University of Lisbon in Portugal in 2008. She received her PhD in Developmental Biology 2014 at the NOVA University of Lisbon in Portugal. Afterwards, she performed her postdoctoral work at the University of Geneva in Switzerland, before she accepted her joint research group leader position in Dresden.

Press Release TU Dresden