Current Lab Members

Name Position Email Phone
Andreas, Heino Technician +49 351 210-1415
Arzt, Matthias Research Software Engineer +49 351 210-2418
Bailles, Anais Postdoc
Brillard, Charlène Postdoc
Cossermelli Vellutini, Bruno Postdoc +49 351 210-2751
Cuenca, Marina Predoc
Girstmair, Johannes Postdoc +49 351 210-2987
Handberg-Thorsager, Mette Postdoc +49 351 210-2785
Lalit, Manan Predoc +49 351 210-2664
Mejstrik, Pavel Technician +49 351 210-2569
Petzold, Max Hiwi
Serafini, Giulia Predoc
Tomancak, Pavel Group Leader +49 351 210-2670
Yadav, Vinca Predoc +49 351 210-2434

Heino Andreas


Heino studied agriculture, and after completing his degree, first worked in a consulting company and later on moved on to the University of Halle to work on various projects. Since 2000, he has been working as a technician at the MPI-CBG. He worked in the last years with different model organism like axolotls, frogs, and planarians. Now, in the Tomancak lab, Heino is still continuing his passion of working with water animals through other species, namely Hydra (jellyfish), Macrostomum (flatworm), and Platynereis (segmented worm). In cooperation with other researchers in the lab he maintains and amplifies the three species to enable studies of their embryogenesis and development. Outside of work, Heino likes to hike and to ride his bike.

Matthias Arzt

Software Engineer

Yes, my last name means doctor! But despite the fact that I really work in a research institute. No, I don't have a PhD. So doctor who? I studied mathematics and did my diploma at the Technical University in Dresden. By combining this with a strong interest in software development, I can now enjoy the pleasure of analyzing the fascinating and beautiful image data recorded by my fellow biologist and life scientist. I have been working in the realm of Fiji image analysis software for five years now. Most notably, I came up with Labkit, a Fiji plugin that makes it intuitive to segment gigantic image data. And now I'm really looking forward to analyzing the lineages and tree data structures brought up by embryonic development and regeneration. Outside the Lab I enjoy cycling, gardening and seeing how my son grows up.

Anaïs Bailles


Anaïs did a Bsc and Msc in physics at Paris XI Orsay/Paris-Saclay University, with a focus on biological systems. She was mind-blown by movies of developing embryos, so she decided to start a PhD in developmental biology in Marseille. There, she studied Drosophila morphogenesis at gastrulation, and how tissue contractility and dynamics are controlled by both mechanical and chemical signals. She joined the lab as a postdoc to study the mysterious regeneration of Hydra aggregates, and how a heterogeneous group of cells can self-organize in the presence of noise. For more theoretical approaches to this question, she is working with the Zechner group. She likes long lunch breaks, improv theater and costume parties, or, for something completely different, reading and discussing history and philosophy of science.

Twitter: @AnaisBailles

Charlène Brillard


Charlène studied engineering, physics and instrumentation respectively at INSA, ENS and the Claude Bernard Lyon 1 University. She developed instruments, from mechanics, optics, electronics to software, mainly related to Scanning Probe Microscopy, for applications in fields from microelectronics and nanotechnology to the world of DNA, proteins, bacteria and cells. Currently, she is using her engineering skills to pursue the goal of visualizing, with a local and global approach, the attachment between the yolk-blastoderm-egg shell, linking electron and light microscopy. If not in the lab, she can be in cinemas or in the Semperoper.

Marina Cuenca


Marina has a degree in physics from the University of Buenos Aires and her project is focused on gastrulation mechanobiology. Using Light Sheet and confocal microscopy she observes and quantifies tissue flow. By perturbing the embryo with photomanipulation techniques, she assesses the nature of the morphogenetic events happening during gastrulation in a multi-scale approach, and the interplay of physical forces involved. In her free time, she enjoys doing sports, reading, dancing and painting.  

Twitter: @CuencaM15

Johannes Girstmair


Born in the Alps of Austria Johannes did his Bachelor and MSc (Molecular Cell and Developmental Biology) studies at the University of Innsbruck. He then continued a PhD under the Marie Curie ‘NEPTUNE’ fellowship at University College London where he used the OpenSPIM for the first time to study the development of a polyclad flatworm, Prostheceraeus crozieri. Currently a postdoc in the group, he continues to study the embryogenesis of different flatworm species with different developmental modes and further advances OpenSPIM systems. He likes to take his two small kids for a hike into the ‘Sächsische Schweiz’ and recently created a publishing platform for fiction books with a friend (

Twitter: @jogirstmair

Manan Lalit


Manan graduated in mechanical engineering from IIT Kanpur and then completed a masters in applied mechanics from Chalmers University. From 2014 up till 2017, he worked with acoustics in the automotive industry. During this period, he used to build graphical interfaces and implement solvers for differential equations. Currently, Manan uses computer vision methods to analyze volumetric imaging data in the context of the early development of the Platynereis worm. He likes to doodle, read science fiction and fantasy novels, and follow cricket matches.

Pavel Mejstřík


Pavel was born just 60 km from Dresden, but on the other side of the border in Usti nad Labem. Then, inspired by Gregor Mendel, he moved to Brno to study Genetics and Molecular Biology at Masaryk University. After finishing his Bachelor and Master studies he started to work on cell cycle regulation during early mouse embryo development at Mendel University in Brno. Later on he switched his focus into medical research revealing new prognostic markers in patients with Lymphomas and Leukemias in the Department of Hematooncology at University Hospital in Brno. He has joined Tomancaklab to screen for gene expression patterns in various tissues of Drosophila using high-throughput RNA in situ hybridization and continues to work with different model organisms in the lab. He is interested in a lot of different sport activities, reading books, hiking and discovering new places mainly with his three kids.

Max Petzold

Hiwi Student

Max is an undergrad in Molecular Biology and Biotechnology at the University of Technology in Dresden. Before he decided to enroll at the university he spend two years down under, travelling, working and doing things a backpacker usually does. His enthusiasm for biology and science in general was growing already back in school. For the lab he is primary working on processing and analyzing bio-images either with Fiji or by scripting in Python but also does he take care of the the transgenic Hydra population. When not in the lab he likes to do different sports, eat good or lay back and read a book.

Giulia Serafini


Giulia comes from Italy and completed her undergraduate studies there, at the University of Bologna. She got her BSc in Biotechnology, with a thesis on the characterization of new variants of breast cancer and her MSc in Molecular and Cellular Biology. During her Master work she encountered Drosophila for the first time, studying the protein Awd and its involvement in wingless signaling. She moved to Dresden for her PhD and now is studying the embryonic development of Drosophila melanogaster, with a particular focus on Scab-mediated blastoderm-vitelline envelope attachment and its role in gastrulation. She loves to dance, and in her free time she likes to practice different kinds of dances. She also enjoys going to the theater, reading a book or just having a walk along the Elbe.

Twitter: @GiuliaSerafin12

Bruno C. Vellutini


Bruno is a biologist fascinated by embryos and evolution. He obtained his BSc and MSc from the University of São Paulo, Brazil, where he studied the life cycle of sea biscuits to understand how they became flat. He then moved to Norway to investigate the evolution of cleavage patterns and body segmentation in spiralians, and obtained his PhD from the University of Bergen. Bruno joined the Tomancak Lab in Dresden to uncover the interplay between genetic patterning and epithelial morphogenesis of a mysterious invagination that divides the head–trunk boundary of flies during gastrulation. He loves imaging living embryos under the microscope and sharing these images and videos online for science outreach. Outside the lab Bruno enjoys playing basketball, reading, and making music with his bass. He also likes culturing shrimp colonies in low-tech planted aquariums.

Twitter: @bc_vellutini | Website:

Vinca Yadav


Vinca completed her BSc and Msc at the University of Delhi (Delhi) and the Centre for Human Genetics (Bangalore) respectively. After her MSc, she worked at the Institute for Stem Cell Science and Regenerative Medicine (inStem) as a junior research fellow, to understand the role of nutrient signalling pathways in maintaining quiescence-growth oscillations in nutrient-limited cell populations. Currently, she is a PhD student in our group, working closely with Jonathan Rodenfels' group to understand metabolic strategies adopted by developing embryos of different animal species. Outside of the lab, she dabbles in improv theatre, collects plants, runs, and plays fetch with her cat, Goblin.

Twitter: @whyvinca

Former Lab Members

Vladimir Ulman


Vlado is a computer vision researcher who impacted many aspects of the lab research acting as a bridge between the requirements of biologists and the skills of the Fiji wizards (one of whom he became). He keeps collaborating with the lab to this day.

He is currently stationed in Czech Republic and coordinates several projects having to do with image analysis on HPC (in Ostrava) and the development of ImgLib2/BDV ecosystem (at CEITEC, funded by Chan Zuckerberg Initiative). 

Stefan Münster


Stefan was an ELBE postdoc working with Tomancak and Grill labs. He discovered the phenomenon whereby attachment of cells to the inner surface of the vitelline envelope impacts gastrulation morphogenesis in insects. He worked on the Tribolium system with Akanksha Jain.

Afterwards he secured funding for an independent research group from DFG (Emmy Noether) and is in the process of setting up his own lab.

Christopher Schmied

PhD student

Christopher Schmied worked on SPIM imaging of Drosophila embryos and developed very impactful protocols for sample preparation and data processing. He also injected some organization into the lab. Afterwards he worked in imaging facilities in Dresden and Berlin.

Currently he continues his succesful career of Research Data Scientist at Human Technopole in Milano (working with long-term collaborator of the lab - Florian Jug).

Sebastian Dunst


Sebastian joined shortly after his PhD with Suzanne Eaton. He worked with Tom Kazimiers and Helena Jambor on extending CATMAID framework to include GO annotations. His database of rab protein localization (FLYtRAB; with Marco Brankatschk) is a piece of art.

Afterwards Sebastian went to the Bundesinstitute für Risikobewertung in Berlin where he runs exciting scientific projects. 

Pavel Vopalensky

Grant manager

Pavel was working on the ARIB Teaming for Excellence project that was building a collaboration between MPI-CBG and the Institute of Molecular Genetics (IMG) in Prague. The project got all the way to Brussels but was eventually sadly not funded. Pavel went on to work for a biotech company SOTIO in Prague.

He is now a research scientist in the Cahova group at the Institute of Organic Chemistry and Biochemistry (IOCB) in Prague.

Akanksha Jain

PhD Student

Akanksha introduced the Tribolium model system to the lab. She was co-supervised by Tassos Pavlopoulos and worked closely with Stefan Münster. They together discovered new conserved mechanisms of gastrulation morphogenesis.

She is currently doing a Postdoc in Barbara Treutlein lab at ETH Zurich in Basel working on brain organoids.

Dimitrios Papadopoulos


Dimitrios used fluorescence correlation spectroscopy (FCS) to study the dynamics of various transcription factors in different contexts of Drosophila development. He was very self-driven, independent researcher and we published many papers together. Subsequently he started his own lab at the University of Edinborough.

Currently he is starting a professorship and a research group at Crete.

Mette Handberg Thorsager


Mette introduced to the lab the wonderful Platynereis dumerilii model species. She collected amazing datasets on the early developmental lineages and inspired a lot of software development for the Mastodon project. We will publish this data eventually.

Mette is currently in Goettingen pursuing her passion for evo-devo. 

Yu-Wen Hsieh

PhD student

Yu-Wen brought his boundless energy to the lab. He worked on the mechanism of chirality during Platynereis spiral cleavage. Publications are still in the works, but we already miss him.

After his PhD, Yu-Wen has moved to a Catenion Pharma/Biotech consultancy where he uses his energy, biology experience, creativity and language skills to help people make money. 

Michaela Burkon


Michaela was for a while the heart and soul of the lab. She did a lot of molecular biology on the FlyFos system and produced many Drosophila transgenes.

She then moved to the CRTD institute in Dresden to work at the lab of Michael Sieweke where she is to this day.

Ivana Viktorinova


Ivana was working very indepently on the mechanism of epithelial sheet rotation in the Drosophila ovary.

She is now Ivana Henry and works in the laboratory of Marta Zlatic at MRC-LMB.

Romina Piscitello

Master Student

Romina worked with Ivana Viktorinova on an RNAi screen for mutations affecting egg size and shape in Drosophila.

She then went on to do her PhD with Suzanne Eaton at MPI-CBG,

Tobias Pietszch


Tobias has a strong background in computer vision and when he was in the lab he developed ImgLib2, BigDataViewer (BDV) and MaMuT/Mastodon Fiji components. He then moved to work with Florian Jug working on related subjects.

He is currently freelancing, harvesting the fruit of the work on ImgLib2/BDV that became foundational components of Fiji.

Johannes Schindelin

Software engineer

Johannes is the "Mother of Fiji". His contribution to the establishment and development of the platform cannot be overstated. It was an honour working with him over the years.

After two stints in the lab (long and a short one) interrupted by a Fiji-related job in Madison Johannes went  to Microsoft. My only regret it that I didn't manage to create a job he deserves.

Helena Jambor


Helena established the Dresden Ovary Table (DOT) database of RNA localization in the Drosophila ovary.

She then re-invented herself as an educator and opinion leader in scientific data communication and figure design.

Monika Zuberova


Monika was funded my Marie-Sklodowska Curie grant to work on the GENCODYS project studying cognitive disorder associated genes in Drosophila.

Peter Pitrone


Pete has a very unique background and he is a doer. He built the OpenSPIM microscope.

He currently works for Oxford Instruments/Andor.

Anastasios Pavlopoulos


Tassos worked on appendage morphogenesis in Parhyale hawaiensis. He also brought Tribolium castaneum research topics to the lab. He was funded by a Marie Sklodowska-Curie grant. Afterwards he became an independent fellow at Janelia Research Campus.

Currently he runs an independent research group at IMBB-FORTH in Crete.

Alex T. Kalinka


Alex studied the evolution of gene expression during Drosophila embryonic development with the focus on the hourglass model. His contribution to the lab's first big paper was invaluable both conceptually and in terms of data analysis. He went on to establish his own group in Vienna.

He is now Principal Bioinformatician at Cancer Research UK (CRUK).

Melek Asli Kayserili

PhD student

Asli was studying the sex specific divergence of embryogenesis in different Drosophila species using transcriptomics techniques.

Vineeth Surendranath

PhD student

Vineeth studied the divergence of gene regulatory networks in evolution using informatic analysis of deep sequencing data.

He currently works at a bloodbank in Dresden and runs a famous local coffee shop.

Maria Bogdanzaliewa


Maria helped us make and characterize genomic fosmid libraries in different Drosophila species.

Stephan Saalfeld

PhD student

Stephan used his mad skillset in computer vision and great biology hands to develop foundational tools to reconstruct and analyze massive serial section transmission electron microscopy acquisitions of the Drosophila nervous system. We published many papers together. His efforts were recognised by the recruitment as Lab Head to HHMI Janelia Research Campus right after PhD.

He is currently the interim Head of Janelia's Computation & Theory Research Area

Michael Weber

Master student

Michael was imaging patterns of gene expression during Drosophila embryogenesis using SPIM. He was involved in the OpenSPIM project. He then did his PhD in Jan Huisken's group at the MPI-CBG. 

He is currently CZI Imaging Scientist & Field Application Scientist for Flamingo, the modular & shareable light sheet microscope.

Kamil Lipinski


Kamil was working on the FlyFos libraries. He went on to do his PhD at the ETH Zurich in the laboratory of Wilhelm Krek.

Stephan Preibisch

PhD student

Stephan developed the stitching and SPIM registration tools, contributed to Fiji, ImgLib2 and many micro-array related projects in our and other labs at the CBG. He then did a post-doc with Rob Singer and Gene Myers pendling between Janelia Farm and MPI-CBG, funded by HFSP. He run an independent research group at BIMSBI in Berlin. 

Currently Stephan is the Director of Scientific Computing at HHMI Janelia

Radoslaw Ejsmont

PhD student

Radek developed tools for reverse genetic manipulation of genes within large genomic transgenes - the FlyFos system. He then did a Postdoc with Bassem Hassan funded by EMBO. Later he started a research group at CRI in Paris.

He now works as Senior Researcher at Synovance and has a nice homepage.

Radostina Shopova

Master student

Radostina was developing a protocol for dual color fluorescent RNA in situ hybridization

Manonmani Arunachalan

PhD student

Manonmani was working on sequence determinants of gene expression patterns. She continued this type of work at Duke University in the lab of Uwe Ohler.

Karolina Varga

PhD student

Karolina was working in the lab on he hourglass model of developmental evolution. She started with PAvel already in Berkeley and helped set-up the lab in Dresden. She collected gene expression data of outstanding quality and was instumental to the lab's first big paper. She then moved to Oxford to do a PostDoc in the lab of Ilan Davis.