Regulation and evolution of developmental processes

Head of the lab: Prof. Smadar Ben-Tabou de-Leon

Lab manager: Dr. Tsvia Gildor

Where genetics and mechanics meet

Our research is focused in deciphering how developmental programs are encoded in the genome, how these programs are executed in a changing environment and how alterations of these programs give rise to evolutionary innovations. We believe that understanding the regulatory control and evolution of morphogenesis will provide a mechanistic understanding of the fundamental processes that underlie life and biodiversity. Furthermore, the same pathways that control embryogenesis are the cause of malignancies, such as cancer, in humans. Therefore, understanding the regulatory networks that drive cell differentiation can open the way for novel therapeutic approaches. Our main focus is the regulation of biomineralization in the sea urchin embryo. We discovered a striking resemblance of this process to vascularization in vertebrates. We are now investigating how the gene regulatory network activates the cytoskeleton remodeling proteins to drive skeleton formation and how this process is affected by environmental factors as hypoxia and mechanical forces.

Our discoveries illuminate the molecular and cellular control system of morphogenetic processes and how these processes evolve.

For further review of our current research projects, see Research.

For a list of our previous works, see Publications.

We are recruiting a Ph.D. student and a post-doc. If you are interested please send your CV and research interests to: