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Leader of Development and Evolutionary Morphogenesis - DEM

Sólveig Thorsteinsdóttir

Assistant Professor

I received a Ph.D. in Developmental Biology from the University of Utrecht, The Netherlands in 1995. I am a professor of Developmental Biology at the University of Lisbon and I am currently leading the Development and Evolutionary Morphogenesis (DEM) research group of cE3c. In my group we study mechanisms regulating the development of bird (chick) and mammalian (mouse) embryos, focussing on how the extracellular matrix and cell-extracellular matrix interactions influence cell differentiation and cell behaviour during development of the musculoskeletal system.


Our current research is driven by three major objectives:

1. To understand the cellular and molecular processes underlying the development of the axial musculoskeletal system of terrestrial vertebrates. We are particularly focused on how different cell types and tissues communicate via paracrine factors and extracellular matrix molecules ensuring the development of a physiologically functional system.

2. To use our knowledge of the normal development of the axial musculoskeletal system to address what exactly goes wrong in disease states such as in congenital muscular dystrophies.

3. To hypothesize on what cellular and molecular processes have been altered in terrestrial vertebrate embryos to permit the re-organization of their segmented musculature into more complex muscle patterns permitting the sustainment and movements of the axial skeleton on land.


We have several close international collaborations: with Dean J. Burkin at the University of Nevada (Reno, USA) on the study of mouse models of LAMA2-Congenital Muscular Dystrophy, with Shahragim Tajbakhsh at the Institut Pasteur (Paris, France) on skeletal muscle development, with Patrícia Ybot-Gonzalez at the Instituto de Biomedicina de Sevilla (Seville, Spain) on laminins during early mouse embryo development, and with Manuel Koch at the University of Cologne (Cologne, Germany) on the extracellular matrix biology of skeletal muscle.