The ability to manipulate cellular pluripotency and differentiation holds the as yet unrealized promise of regenerative medicine to produce replacement cells and tissues. To this end a deep understanding of the regulation of differentiation potential in the context of normal embryonic development is crucial. The recent revolution in sequencing technology has enabled high throughput and genome-wide analysis of cellular behaviour. The challenge with the new opportunities in genome-scale quantitative data gathering is to reach a more fundamental, systems level understanding of complex biological phenomena such as development and differentiation.
The mission of the DevCom network is to train a new generation of promising scientists to bridge the gap between developmental and computational biology, and to prepare this generation for the emerging field of “New Biology” in which systems-level, quantitative and computational approaches are fully integrated in the analysis of profound scientific problems related to pluripotency and differentiation. The DevCom research plan revolves around early embryonic regulatory networks and disease networks in vertebrate embryos of the Xenopus and zebrafish model systems. The training plan involves interdisciplinary training with exposure to both academic and business settings. The trainees will acquire technical expertise in embryonic anatomy and development, genomic profiling, sequence conservation and evolutionary relationships of regulatory elements, genetic and chemical screens, mass spectrometry, informatics, statistics and computational modelling, and will be trained in a range of soft and complementary skills.
Together, the DevCom Training and Research Programmes are designed to foster readiness for leading roles in academia and industry and will have a lasting impact on the training programmes of participating institutions.