Department research

Anatomy is the exciting field of exploring the structure of organisms. Developmental biology seeks to understand how cells in the embryo assemble to form the structure of adult organisms.  Our scientific teams are engaged in cutting-edge research which aims to determine how form and function are established in the body.

Our research uncovers the fundamental processes that make us the way we are, from the first moments of life when sperm meets egg, through to the complex cellular events that occur in the fetus to build our organs, and the establishment of the form and function of our bodies after we are born.  All these processes are characterised by the choices that cells make.  We seek to answer questions such as:

  • When and why do cells differentiate?
  • Why do some cells divide but others die?
  • Are they able to live indefinitely, repairing and regenerating organ tissues, or do they have a finite lifespan?

Understanding these fundamental cellular properties is central to knowing how we develop and grow, and is increasingly important for understanding diseases like cancer and as the basis for exciting new treatments. A failure to execute these decisions appropriately is the basis for birth defects.

In keeping with the significance of these questions, our research groups have a breadth of experience in a range of intersecting fields.  Our research addresses outstanding problems in stem cell biology, the development of the embryo and its parts, the developmental origins of health and disease, and in the structure and function of tissues and organs.

We employ a range of different systems to address these questions ranging from molecular and genetic studies in cell cultures and model organisms, through to investigating form and function in organisms both alive and distant in evolutionary time.

Meet our research leaders