Research / Scientific departments / Developmental & Stem Cells Biology

About the Department

The Department : a bit of history

Developmental biology first made is appearance in the Pasteur Institute when François Jacob and François Gros with their colleagues became interested in extending their pioneering work on messenger RNA in bacteria to gene regulation in eukaryotic systems. This led to the introduction of mouse genetics and embryology and to work on differentiating cells in culture. Initially these and other research groups were part of the Molecular Biology Department in the Jacques Monod building, which opened at the end of the 1960s, after the award of the Nobel prize to Jacob, Monod and Lwoff.

Scientific research and communal activities

The Department of Developmental Biology was created in 2001, and includes the descendants of the original laboratories in the Jacques Monod building, as well as others which have joined the Institute. Today research in the Department converges on two main poles of interest. One concerns the regulation of gene expression in different developmental contexts, ranging from molecular studies on transcription factors and chromatin structure to the analysis of phenotypes when regulatory genes are mutated. The other focusses on cell lineages and cell behaviour in the embryo, with an interest also in the progenitor cells of adult tissues. In a biomedical context, with an interface with other departments on the campus, these developmental studies have led to work on stem cells with a potential for tissue regeneration and to the creation of a number of mouse models for human disease.
The Department has a strong tradition in genetics, both in classical genetics and in gene manipulation in the mouse. This is reflected by the presence of veterinarians responsible for the mouse facilities of the Institute, and the transgenic mouse service, which is also attached to our Department. Our colleagues also include human geneticists and a group using Drosophila genetics. The mouse is the model organism studied by most laboratories. However, in addition to Drosophila, there are groups working with zebra fish, and the chick embryo is also used. Precise information about research activities is given under each Unit or Group.
in 2009, the unit of Marco Pontoglio moved to the Institut Cochin in Paris.