Santos lab Quantitative Stem Cell Biology Laboratory

cell decisions making

We are interested in understanding one of the most fascinating challenges in biology: how a single cell produces daughter cells that will go on to adopt distinct fates.

Cells have to make many decisions, such as when and how to divide and whether to specialise to perform a particular role in the body (known as differentiation). These decisions are controlled by complex molecular networks, which respond to signals coming in from outside the cell.

Our lab combines advanced microscopy, genomics, proteomics and mathematical approaches to investigate the molecular mechanisms by which signaling networks and genetic circuits drive cells to divide or differentiate at the right time. By studying embryonic stem cells – the early cells in an embryo that can become all the different tissues of the body – we are finding out how early decisions are made during early human development.

Our interdisciplinary approach provides great insight into cell division and differentiation, two fundamental cellular processes during normal growth and disease, and ultimately sheds light on the complex systems that underpin life.