EMBO Conference on Morphogenesis and Dynamics of Multicellular Systems (Morphogenesis)

Venue: Operon

Location: Heidelberg, Germany

Event Date/Time: Oct 02, 2009 End Date/Time: Oct 06, 2009
Registration Date: Jul 31, 2009
Abstract Submission Date: Jul 31, 2009
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The problem of how cells become organized into three-dimensional tissues is one of the most important topics in biological research. Precisely coordinated changes in cellular behavior determine the shape and size of organs forming during embryogenesis. In adult organisms, dynamic changes in tissue organization underlie wound healing and regeneration, while a loss thereof is a hallmark of cancer. Therefore, studies addressing tissue dynamics in embryos or cultured multicellular systems will have a great impact on our understanding of medically important processes.

Traditionally, developmental biologists have studied such processes using a global, static readout at the organism level. By contrast, cell biologists have a tradition of studying dynamic aspects of cell machinery using isolated cells in an artificial environment. It is clear however, that in order to understand the morphogenesis and dynamics of multicellular systems these two disciplines have to merge. Furthermore, as many aspects of morphogenesis involve physical mechanisms, such as force generation or modulating tension, it is desirable to include biophysical approaches when addressing morphogenesis. This means computer based experimental approaches such as simulations will play an increasingly important role in this field.

The combination of new imaging-, computer- and experimental manipulation technologies now provide opportunities for cell biologists to study dynamic cellular machines in the context of the intact developing embryo. These technologies also allow investigating biophysical aspects of development such as the role and distribution of forces, for example during gastrulation, when multiple tissues move and form simultaneously.
Developmental biology, cell biology and biophysics as a consequence are rapidly becoming intertwined and it is this inter-disciplinarity that the planned meeting intends to foster. Special care will be taken to select speakers from diverse fields of research at the interface between the three disciplines. The focus will be on global aspects of collective cell behavior rather than on molecular details.

A central technology enabling such interdisciplinary research is real time imaging of fluorescent reporters in whole tissues or even in the living, intact organism. This not only has the advantage of providing a realistic context but also enables quantification of tissue dynamics. Another important emerging technology is computer simulations, which allow mathematically exploring tissue behavior. Because both technologies are rapidly evolving a session will be dedicated to presenting and discussing the latest technological advances in combination with a panel discussion on how to integrate and optimize such technologies.

The conference will deal with seven topics over a period of 4 days:

1. Cell Surface Mechanics
2. Collective Migration
3. Organ Morphogenesis
4. Cancer as a Morphogenetic Process
5. Increasing and Decreasing Order within Tissues
6. New Methodologies for Addressing Tissue Dynamics (+Panel Discussion).
7. Coupling Morphogenetic Domains across the Developing Embryo (+Panel Discussion).

The last two topics will include a panel discussion to allow sufficient opportunity to explore future ideas.

Invited Speakers
Markus Affolter, Biozentrum, University of Basel, Switzerland
Suzanne Eaton, Max Planck Institute of Molecular Cell Biology and Genetics , Germany
Andrew Ewald, Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, USA
Peter Friedl, Nijmegen Medical Centre, Netherlands
Holger Gerhardt, Cancer Research UK London Research Institute, United Kingdom
Morteza Gharib, California Institute of Technology, USA
Carl-Philipp Heisenberg, Max Planck Institute of Molecular Cell Biology and Genetics, Germany
Lars Hufnagel, EMBL, Heidelberg, Germany
Michel Labouesse, Institut de Génétique et de Biologie Moléculaire et Cellulaire, France
Thomas Lecuit, IBDML - Development Biology Institute of Marseille Luminy, France
Maria Leptin, Cologne University, France
Andrea McClatchey, MGH/Harvard Medical School, USA
Denise Montell, Johns Hopkins University/The Department of Biological Chemistry, USA
Ed Munro, University of Washington, USA
Ichiro Nishii, Riken , Japan
Pernille Rorth, Temasek Life Sciences Laboratory, Singapore
Erik Sahai, Cancer Research UK London Research Institute, United Kingdom
Ralf Schnabel, TU Braunschweig Developmental Genetics, Germany
Lila Solnica-Krezel, Vanderbilt University, USA
Angelike Stathopoulos, California Institute of Technology, USA
John Wallingford, University of Texas at Austin, USA
Cornelius Weijer, WellcomeTrust Biocentre, University of Dundee, United Kingdom
Jochen Wittbrodt, EMBL, Heidelberg, Germany
Jennifer Zallen, Sloan-Kettering Institute, USA


Meyerhofstr. 1