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Heisenberg Group

Morphogenesis in Development

The most elaborate shapes of multicellular organisms – the elephant’s trunk, the orchid blossom, the lobster’s claw – all start off from a simple bunch of cells. This transformation of a seemingly unstructured cluster of cells into highly elaborate shapes is a common and fundamental principle in cell and developmental biology and the focus of the Heisenberg group’s work.

To gain insights into critical processes by which the developing organism takes shape, the Heisenberg group focuses on gastrulation in zebrafish and ascidians, a highly conserved process in which a seemingly unstructured blastula is transformed into an organized embryo. The group has chosen a transdisciplinary approach, employing a combination of genetic, cell biological, biochemical, and biophysical tools. Using these tools, the group is addressing how the interplay between the physical processes driving cell and tissue morphogenesis and the gene regulatory pathways determining cell fate specification control gastrulation. Insights derived from this work may ultimately have implications for the study of wound healing and cancer biology, as immune and cancer cells share many morphogenetic properties of embryonic cells.

On this site:


Image of Madison Bolger-Munro

Madison Bolger-Munro


Image of Lia Heinemann Yerushalmi

Lia Heinemann Yerushalmi


Image of Naoya Hino

Naoya Hino


Image of Laura Hofmann

Laura Hofmann

PhD Student

Image of Michaela Jovic

Michaela Jovic

PhD Student

Image of Tushna Kapoor

Tushna Kapoor


Image of Alena Kizenko

Alena Kizenko

PhD Student

Image of Long Li

Long Li


Image of Nikhil Mishra

Nikhil Mishra


Image of Suyash Naik

Suyash Naik

PhD Student

Image of Kornelija Pranjic-Ferscha

Kornelija Pranjic-Ferscha

Research Technician

Image of Carolina Santos Fernandes Lasbarrères Camelo

Carolina Santos Fernandes Lasbarrères Camelo


Image of Vanessa Scheffenacker

Vanessa Scheffenacker

Research Technician

Image of Gayathri Singaraju

Gayathri Singaraju


Image of Irene Steccari

Irene Steccari

Research Technician

+43 22 439000 7452

Image of Xin Tong

Xin Tong

PhD Student

Current Projects

Cell adhesion | Actomyosin contraction | Cell and tissue morphogenesis | Cell polarization and migration


Hirashima T, Hino N, Aoki K, Matsuda M. 2023. Stretching the limits of extracellular signal-related kinase (ERK) signaling — Cell mechanosensing to ERK activation. Current Opinion in Cell Biology. 84, 102217. View

Méhes E, Mones E, Varga M, Zsigmond Á, Biri-Kovács B, Nyitray L, Barone V, Krens G, Heisenberg C-PJ, Vicsek T. 2023. 3D cell segregation geometry and dynamics are governed by tissue surface tension regulation. Communications Biology. 6, 817. View

Higashi T, Stephenson RE, Schwayer C, Huljev K, Higashi AY, Heisenberg C-PJ, Chiba H, Miller AL. 2023. ZnUMBA – a live imaging method to detect local barrier breaches. Journal of Cell Science. 136(15), jcs260668. View

Shamipour S, Hofmann L, Steccari I, Kardos R, Heisenberg C-PJ. 2023. Yolk granule fusion and microtubule aster formation regulate cortical granule translocation and exocytosis in zebrafish oocytes. PLoS Biology. 21(6), e3002146. View

Schauer A. 2023. Mesendoderm formation in zebrafish gastrulation: The role of extraembryonic tissues. Institute of Science and Technology Austria. View

View All Publications

ReX-Link: Carl-Philipp Heisenberg


since 2010 Professor, Institute of Science and Technology Austria (ISTA)
2001 – 2010 Group Leader, Max Planck Institute of Molecular Cell Biology and Genetics, Dresden, Germany
1997 – 2000 Postdoc, University College London, UK
1996 PhD, Max Planck Institute of Developmental Biology, Tübingen, Germany

Selected Distinctions

2019 Carus Medal, German Academy of Sciences Leopoldina
2017 ERC Advanced Grant
2017 Lower Austrian Science Award
2015 Member, EMBO
2015 Member, German Academy of Sciences Leopoldina
2000 Emmy Noether Junior Professorship

Additional Information

Download CV
Open group website

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