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Department of Physiology, Development and Neuroscience


How are different cells made, organised into tissues, arranged in the correct places and coordinated to form an animal? These are the fundamental questions of developmental biology. At PDN we are investigating many aspects of development, including how cells talk to one another, how they move to new locations, how they assemble and rearrange to make tissues and how their functions change with age. We use a wide range of approaches to study the development of a variety of animal models and humans.

Developmental biology research in PDN is particularly active in several key areas:

  • the process of turning genes on and off as cells become more specialized, which is fundamental to understanding a key mystery of development: how a single cell, the fertilized egg, gives rise to all the different kinds of cells in our body.

  • stem cells and the first decisions specifying cell types in the embryo, which will improve the efficacy of in vitro fertilization and advance the new field of regenerative medicine.

  • the mechanics of cell movement and behavior, which is key to understand how cells coordinate to build the body, fight off infections, and aberrantly move to new locations during cancer metastasis.

  • development of the nervous system, including how the myriad of different neuron types are programmed and how the neurons make the right connections to provide circuits in the brain.

  • how the environment of the uterus impacts on foetal development and adult life, which helps us understand pregnancy complications and discover how diseases that occur in adults can be caused by the environment during pregnancy.





Visualising morphogenetic mechanisms


Neurogenic placodes and the neural crest: development of the vertebrate peripheral sensory nervous system

Single-cell and single-molecule imaging approaches to study genes regulation during pluripotent stem cell renewal and differentiation

Laboratory for primate embryogenesis


Brand lab

Stem cells to synapses: regulation of self-renewal and differentiation in the nervous system


Neural and epidermal development in Drosophila: from signalling to morphogenesis

Brown lab

Molecular analysis of morphogenesis

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Optogenetically probing cell polarity and brain development


Colledge lab

Transgenic mouse models of human disease: reproductive physiology, cystic fibrosis, and cardiac physiology


Forhead lab

Mammalian endocrinology and the hormonal regulation of fetal physiology and development

Franze lab

Mechanics in nervous system development and pathology


Giussani lab

How adverse conditions during pregnancy can programme heart disease in the adult offspring

Herbison lab

Properties and functioning of the key neural populations controlling fertility in mammals


Holt lab

Axon guidance in the developing brain

Kolahgar lab

Extrinsic regulation of intestinal proliferation and gut maintenance in Drosophila

Lee lab

Stem-stromal cell interactions and regulatory networks that allow proper lineage specification and tissue regeneration

Niakan lab

Understanding the molecular mechanisms that control early human development

Rawlins lab

Lung development, maintenance and their mechanisms of disease


Sanson lab

Morphogenesis of the epithelium in Drosophila embryos

Sarris lab

How immune cells search tissues and find sites of infection or tissue damage


Schofield lab

Experimental and informatic approaches to understanding human disease

sferruzzi perri

Sferruzzi-Perri lab

Etiology of pregnancy complications and the regulation of developmental processes


Surani lab

Mammalian germ cells, pluripotency and epigenesis


Watson lab

The epigenetic role of folate during development

Xiong lab

Force generation and mechanical regulation during tissue shape formation

zernicka goetz

Zernicka-Goetz lab

Cell fate, plasticity and pluripotency in the development of the early mouse embryo

Other Academics specialising in this area


David Bainbridge

University Clinical

Veterinary Anatomist


Graham Burton  




Abby Fowden



Martin Johnson



Roger Keynes



Rob White




Peter Wooding