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

Morphoelasticity of large bending deformations of cell sheets during development

Haas & Goldstein, Phys. Rev. E 103, 022411 (2021), highlighted as an Editors' Suggestion

Deformations of cell sheets during morphogenesis are driven by developmental processes such as cell division and cell shape changes. In morphoelastic shell theories of development, these processes appear as variations of the intrinsic geometry of a thin elastic shell. However, morphogenesis often involves large bending deformations that are outside the formal range of validity of these shell theories. We have derived a shell theory for large intrinsic bending deformations that emphasizes the resulting geometric material anisotropy and the elastic role of cell constriction. Taking the invagination of the green alga Volvox as a model developmental event, we have revealed how these geometric effects stabilize invagination.

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

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