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Leader of Development and Evolutionary Morphogenesis - DEM

Sólveig Thorsteinsdóttir

Full Professor

Developmental biology Extracellular matrix Cell-cell communication Somitogenesis Musculoskeletal system Skeletal muscle development and disease Muscle stem cells

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. The DEM group studies mechanisms regulating the development of vertebrate embryos. Our interest is how cell-cell communication events, particularly those involving the extracellular matrix, influence cell differentiation and cell behaviour during development. We use mouse and chick embryos as model systems and focus on how the derivatives of the mesodermal somites develop into the axial musculoskeletal system and how this system grows and matures. We then use this knowledge to address what goes wrong in certain disease states, such as in the muscular dystrophies. 

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 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.



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