Schedule Jul 31, 2013
On Growth & Form of the Embryo: From Gene Expressions to Tissue Mechanics
Eric Wieschaus, Princeton Univ.

During development, cells in an embryo face two major tasks. First they must express distinct combinations of genes appropriate for specific cell fates such as muscle and skin. Once such patterns of gene expression are established, cells must change their shape and position to match those cell fates. These transformations are remarkable for their speed and precision, but also for their incredible beauty. The associated cell-shape changes depend on local patterns of gene activity, but how such patterns are converted into the physical properties controlling shape and motility is a major unanswered question in biology. In my talk I will describe my lab.s attempts to address these questions using the Drosophila embryo as a model system. Our findings open up a new perspective on the relationship between cells and organismal morphology.

Eric Wieschaus is the Squibb Professor in Molecular Biology at Princeton University, and was educated at Notre Dame and Yale. Along the way he did research in Basel, Zurich and Heidelberg, before arriving in Princeton in 1981. Famed for his work on Drosophila, his first encounter with this species was preparing fly food in Harvey Bender.s lab at Notre Dame. He shared the 1995 Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine for his work revealing the genetic control of embryonic development. As a boy in Alabama, he spent much of his time painting and drawing, and he dreamed of becoming an artist. His visual approach to understanding embryonic development may have, he says, partly assuaged his teenage dreams.

Introduction by Lars Bildsten and Boris Shraiman

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