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Sainsbury Laboratory

Sainsbury Laboratory Symposium promotional banner. Text: Sainsbury Laboratory Symposium, 21-23 September 2022, Cambridge UK. Theme: Regulatory dynamics during development and evolution.

Keynote speakers


Kerstin Kaufmann 

Institute for Biology, Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin, Germany 

Kerstin Kaufmann’s lab investigates the molecular mechanisms that control the activities of genes across development, using a combination of epigenomics, proteomics and classical genetics using flower development as their model system. By combining experimental and computational analyses, the Kaufmann lab aims to understand multicellular development at the systems level. 

Kaufmann Lab




James Sharpe 

European Molecular Biology Laboratory (EMBL) Barcelona, Spain 

James Sharpe’s group brings together an interdisciplinary team of biologists, physicists and computer scientists to build multi-scale computer simulations of a paradigm of organogenesis – mammalian limb development. They combine various systems biology approaches to integrate data on cell activities and gene networks into a realistic 4D computer simulation of the process. 

Sharpe Group





Invited speakers


Alexandre Marand

Department of Genetics, University of Georgia, US

How cellular diversity is established is a major question in biology. Leveraging recent advances in single-cell epigenomic profiling techniques, Alexandre Marand’s research aims to understand the role of cis-regulatory variation in spatiotemporal patterning of transcription, developmental innovation, and phenotypic divergence at multiple scales of biology, including among cells, organisms, and species.

Google Scholar profile




Aman Husbands

Department of Biology, University of Pennsylvania, US

Aman Husbands is investigating the mechanisms underlying the remarkably robust nature of development, using flat leaf production as a tractable system to understand these processes. In a parallel but overlapping project, Husbands is studying an ancient family of transcription factors that arose at least 700 million years ago, and was repeatedly co-opted to drive several evolutionarily-important innovations, including flat leaf production, stem cell maintenance, and vascular patterning.

University profile



Annis Richardson

Institute of Molecular Plant Sciences, The University of Edinburgh, UK

Annis Richardson’s lab studies the mechanisms that underpin leaf and flower shape, particularly in the grasses, using maize and barley as model systems. The Richardson lab combines diverse techniques, including next generation sequencing, genetics, 3D imaging and computational modelling, to reveal the gene regulatory networks underlying shape and to interrogate how evolutionarily conserved these may be.

The Plant Shape Lab & University Profile




Berta Verd

Department of Zoology, University of Oxford, UK 

Berta Verd’s group combines mathematical modelling, experimental embryology, and microscopy to understand the evolution of body plans. In particular, they want to understand the evolvability and plasticity of segmentation and axial patterning in zebrafish and Lake Malawi cichlid fishes.

Verd Lab





Erik Clark

Department of Genetics, University of Cambridge, UK 

Erik Clark's research explores the gene regulatory networks that pattern the arthropod anteroposterior axis, focusing on their developmental and evolutionary dynamics. Using the Drosophila blastoderm as a primary experimental model, his work combines traditional developmental genetics with multiplexed imaging, quantitative bioimage analysis, and computational modelling.

University Pofile




Isaac Salazar-Ciudad

Centre De Recerca Matematica, Spain

Isaac Salazar-Ciudad's lab is interested in the evolution of complex phenotypes and gene networks. Their focus is mostly on morphology, but they also study other phenotypic levels (even beyond biology). Their approach considers that both natural selection and variation determine the direction of evolutionary change. To that end they are developing computational models of embryonic development and from those and a population context we simulate the evolution of phenotypes.

Isaac Salazar-Ciudad Lab



Kaisa Kajala

Utrecht University, The Netherlands 

Kaisa Kajala's group is investigating how different plant cell types have evolved, and how these cell types develop and respond to environmental changes. They use include high-throughput sequencing, histology, developmental biology, genetics, and physiology with a diversity of plants species. Current projects focus on the exodermis and its response to drought; stem cell types in response to far red light; and cell types of Arabidopsis leaf in response to touch.

Kaisa Kajala Group




Marcus Heisler

School of Life and Environmental Sciences, University of Sydney, Australia 

Marcus Heilser's lab aims to understand developmental patterning in plants. In particular they aim to understand how plants create their amazingly symmetrical patterns of leaves and flowers, otherwise known as phyllotaxis. The lab also study how plant organs take on their particular shapes, for instance the flat shape of leaves.

Heisler Lab




Renske Vroomans

Sainsbury Laboratory, University of Cambridge

Renske Vrooman’s research group studies the evolutionary dynamics of developmental processes in biology with a focus on plants. The Vroomans research group is employing computational models to study the long-term evolution of plant development and integrating understandings of how gene regulatory networks and dynamical processes that generate complex morphologies can evolve.

Vroomans Research Group




Suriya Narayanan Murugesan

Department of Biological Sciences, National University of Singapore, Singapore

Novelties are proposed to originate in a few different ways: from gradual modifications of primitive traits, from co-option of pre-existing gene-regulatory networks (GRNs) to novel body locations, or from a mixture of both processes. Suriya Narayanan Murugesan's work focussed on exploring the evolutionary origin of butterfly eyespots GRN and its relationship with GRN of simpler spots in distant lineage of butterflies.

Monteiro Lab  




Ting-Ying Wu 

Temasek Life Science Laboratory, Singapore

Ting-Ying Wu's research focuses on understanding how plants respond to environmental perturbations, especially for abiotic stress during the long-term evolution. Wu mainly use OMICs approaches to study the gene regulatory networks in vascular model plants, Arabidopsis and rice as well as in a bryophytic model plant, Marchantia.

Google Scholar & LinkedIn