MatheMorphosis: an integrative model of limb development
Fascination with pattern formation in living organisms is millennia old. One of the biological models to investigate this process is the developing limb. Our understanding of limb development has progressed greatly over the last half century. However, the intricate interactions between biochemical (e.g. genes, proteins) and biophysical (e.g. cell-cell interactions) factors become too complex to be understood without the help of computational modeling. In order to successfully continue the quest for deeper insight into the complex control of genesis of biological structures and functions, further advances in the computational as well as the experimental models are necessary. This research proposal, MatheMorphosis, aims to follow an integrative approach to study the biophysical and biochemical regulation of limb development. We will establish a multiscale multiphysics model (in silico) of the early stages of limb development, exploring various ways to optimize, validate and question the model and its predictions. Concomitantly we will develop a robust in vivo (in ovo) platform based on the recombinant limb technique in the chick that allows to incorporate in vitro engineered cell populations and assess their capacity to form complex tissues. This experimental model will provide a dedicated test bed to evaluate specific model predictions and thereby advancing the state-of-the-art in both computational modeling and limb development.