Martinez-Arias Lab

Boltzmann, Darwin and THE current challenge of the life sciences

The XIX century will be called the century of Darwin (L. Boltzmann) While most people have heard of Einstein and Newton and Feynman, Boltzmann is not a household name when thinking about famous physicists. Ludwig Boltzmann was a theoretical physicist … Continue reading

Posted in Developmental Systems Biology, History of Science | Leave a comment

The left picture is a group of ES cells bearing a reporter for Wnt signalling (red) in adherent culture, the middle one is the same cells in an elongating ‘organoid” which we call a ‘gastruloid” -notice the localize expression of the reporter-; finally the picture on the right is an embryo bearing the Wnt reporter at a stage we reckon mimics that of the aggregates in the middle. Picture on the right courtesy of Christoph Budjan.

New publication on “symmetry breaking in ensembles of ES cells”

Progress on our attempts to understand the connection between genes, signals, cells and embryos have just been published in Development. In a first paper we describe a new experimental system in which we coax mouse Embryonic Stem cells to make structures with an anterior posterior axis and a germ layer organization that resembles that of an embryo ( In a second paper we use this experimental system to gain some insights into the emergence of the spinal cord (

You can see a movie and some thoughts on the experiments here:

More on this will follow soon.

Publish: What? Why? Where? How?

There are now videos of both the lecture and the subsequent panel discussion available at

Publish: What? Why? Where? How? – Part II: Solutions?

These are notes for a lecture given by AMA in a workshop about Responsible Research held at LMU in Munich (Germany) on 24 July 2014 ( The lecture is broken into two parts, the first one dealt with biomedical publishing, … Continue reading

Posted in Blog Posts, Scientific Publishing | 7 Comments


We are interested in the structure and function of Living Matter with a special focus on the processes that generate tissues and organs from single cells through interactions between protein and gene regulatory networks. Cells use these networks to create and read programmes of gene expression and use these to interact with each other and differentiate into the multiple cell types that configure the building blocks of an organism. Our research is focused on how the activity of molecular networks is transformed into tissues for organ building. We address this problem through a combination of classical genetics, quantitative cell biology, image analysis and modelling.

We use mouse Embryonic Stem (ES) cells and Drosophila Intestinal Stem Cells (ISC) to ask questions about:

Stochastic and deterministic processes in cell fate decisions

Cell and tissue dynamics during morphogenesis

Cell and tissue dynamics during morphogenesis

Wnt/Notch signalling in developmental homeostasis

Wnt/Notch signalling in developmental homeostasis


The lab has strong collaborations with Nicole Gorfinkiel (Centro Biologia Molecular, Madrid, Spain), Anne Grapin-Botton (Danish stem cell center:, Ana Katerina Hadjantonakis (Sloan Kettering Institute, New York, USA), Kathryn Lilley (Department of Biochemistry), Jenny Nichols (Cambridge Centre for Stem Cell Research), and Emma Rawlins (Gurdon Institute).

We also have strong collaborations with physicists and engineers which respond to the increasing need to trascend the data that is generated by classical biological approaches. In particular we have close interactions with Jordi Garcia Ojalvo (Universidad Pompeu Fabra: and Jeremy Gunawardena (Department of Systems Biology)