Self-Organization and Information Flow in Multicellular Systems


Event details

Date 29.02.2024
Hour 09:1510:15
Speaker David B. Brückner, Ph.D., postdoctoral researcher at ISTA, the Institute of Science and Technology Austria, Klosterneuburg/Vienna (AT)
Location Online
Category Conferences - Seminars
Event Language English
Embryonic development is a spectacular display of self-organization of multi-cellular systems, combining transformations of tissue shape and patterns of gene expression. Such patterning occurs in a reproducible manner despite the inevitable presence of stochastic fluctuations. Yet, how tissues obtain information to make reliable cell fate decisions remains a key open question. I will discuss theoretical approaches to understand the role of fluctuations in developmental systems across scales: from the stochastic dynamics of subcellular gene regulatory elements to self-organized patterning at the tissue scale. First, I will discuss a polymer physics framework to understand how fluctuations control the stochastic search process of enhancer-promoter pairs during transcriptional activation in fly embryonic patterning. Zooming out to the tissue scale, I will introduce a dynamical systems approach to understand how tissue-level fluctuations of cell signaling activity kickstart self-organized cell fate patterning in intestinal organoids. Finally, I show how information theory can formalize the whole sequence of steps from initial fluctuations to signaling to cell fate decisions in a unifying theoretical framework. Together, these approaches demonstrate how developmental systems both leverage and mitigate fluctuations across scales to ensure reproducible developmental outcomes.

At IST Austria, I work with Edouard Hannezo and Gašper Tkačik. I am also a Fellow of the NOMIS Foundation and my research is supported by an EMBO Postdoctoral Fellowship. I did my PhD in the group of Chase Broedersz at the Arnold-Sommerfeld-Center for Theoretical Physics at the LMU Munich on the stochastic dynamics of migrating cells, for which I received the Gustav-Hertz-Prize of the German Physical Society and the Dissertation Award of the Munich University Association. During my PhD, I was an Add-on Fellow of the Joachim Herz Foundation and my work was supported by a DFG Fellowship within the Graduate School of Quantitative Biosciences Munich. I did my undergraduate studies at the University of Cambridge, which were supported by a scholarship from the German Studienstiftung. In my master's thesis, I developed hydrodynamic simulations of colloidal thermophoresis under the supervision of Erika Eiser and Daan Frenkel.

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