Martinez-Arias Lab


We’re back!

Having survived Blue Monday, it’s back to business as usual in the lab. Here we have Christian and Meritxell hard at work in Tissue Culture (we’re not sure about the rest of the lab…) Happy New Year everyone!  

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Season’s Greetings from the AMA Lab

With Christmas just around the corner, we have been adding a touch of festive cheer to the lab with a decorations competition. Novel uses were found for Falcon tubes, polystyrene packaging and Eppendorfs – in the end the prize went … Continue reading

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The case of the Irish Elk, a parable for the weight of the glamour journals

The case of the Irish Elk, a parable for the weight of the glamour journals In one of his wonderful and educational essays, SJ Gould discusses the story of the Irish Elk, a spectacular species of elk that became extinct … Continue reading

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Good bye to a hut and to all that

“On a summer day in the late fifties a delegation from the Soviet Union appeared in Cambridge demanding to see the “Institute of Molecular Biology”. When I took them to our shabby prefabricated hut in front of the University Physics … Continue reading

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Recent publications


Just by chance EMBL 2015.001

The work of our colleagues Christian Schröeter and Pau Rué on the integration of FGF signalling and GATA4, 6 activity in a mouse ES cell model of Primitive Endoderm specification has just been published in Development The specification of Primitive Endoderm requires and integration of a transcriptional input provided by a transcription factor of the GATA family and FGF signalling. In this work, a combination of live imaging, quantitative analysis and modelling reveals that FGF signalling sets up a threshold for the activity of GATA. The work also uncovers a simple bistable system which can account for the experimental observations and also provides a framework to think about events in the embryo.

The lab also published a video account of how to make gastruloids ( ). In the organoid world reproducibility is all and, for this reason, following the publication of our finding about symmetry breaking and axial elongation from ES cells ( ), we have now made a detailed account of the protocol. You might also want to have a look at our perspective on the organoid field from the point of view of developmental biology ( ) – maybe not that much self organization. And while on this, watch this space; coming soon a study of the early events in the patterning of the gastruloids.

To see our other publications press here.

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

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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)