Hannezo Group

Physical Principles in Biological Systems

During embryo development, cells must “know” how to behave at the right place and at the right time. The Hannezo group applies methods from theoretical physics to understand how these robust choices occur.

The Hannezo group is particularly interested in design principles and processes of self-organization in biology, at various scales, in close collaboration with cell and developmental biologists. Their methods include tools from solid and fluid mechanics, statistical physics as well as soft matter approaches. Examples of problems that the group is working on – at three different scales – include: 1) how do cytoskeletal elements, which generate forces within cells, self-organize to produce complex spatio-temporal patterns? 2) how do cells concomitantly acquire identities and shape a tissue during development? and 3) how does complex tissue architecture derive from simple self-organizing principles, for instance during branching morphogenesis (in organs such as the kidneys, mammary glands, pancreas, and prostate) as a prototypical example.

Group Leader

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Current Projects

Stochastic branching in mammalian organs | Active fluids and cell cytoskeleton | Models of fate choices of stem cells during homeostasis and embryo development


Dekoninck S, Hannezo EB, Sifrim A, Miroshnikova YA, Aragona M, Malfait M, Gargouri S, De Neunheuser C, Dubois C, Voet T, Wickström SA, Simons BD, Blanpain C. 2020. Defining the design principles of skin epidermis postnatal growth. Cell. 181(3), 604–620.e22. View

Hannezo EB, Simons BD. 2019. Multiscale dynamics of branching morphogenesis. Current Opinion in Cell Biology. 60, 99–105. View

Krndija D, Marjou FE, Guirao B, Richon S, Leroy O, Bellaiche Y, Hannezo EB, Vignjevic DM. 2019. Active cell migration is critical for steady-state epithelial turnover in the gut. Science. 365(6454), 705–710. View

Hannezo EB, Heisenberg C-PJ. 2019. Mechanochemical feedback loops in development and disease. Cell. 178(1), 12–25. View

Guiu J, Hannezo EB, Yui S, Demharter S, Ulyanchenko S, Maimets M, Jørgensen A, Perlman S, Lundvall L, Mamsen LS, Larsen A, Olesen RH, Andersen CY, Thuesen LL, Hare KJ, Pers TH, Khodosevich K, Simons BD, Jensen KB. 2019. Tracing the origin of adult intestinal stem cells. Nature. 570, 107–111. View

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since 2017 Assistant Professor, IST Austria
2015 – 2017 Sir Henry Wellcome Postdoctoral Fellow, Gurdon Institute, Cambridge, UK
2015 – 2017 Junior Research Fellow, Trinity College, University of Cambridge, UK
2014 Postdoc, Institut Curie, Paris, France
2014 PhD, Institut Curie and Université Pierre et Marie Curie, Paris, France

Selected Distinctions

2019 EMBO Young Investigator Award
2019 ERC Starting Grant
2015 Wellcome Trust Fellowship
2014 Young Researcher Prize of the Bettencourt-Schuller Foundation
2014 Trinity College Junior Research Fellowship
2010 PhD grant from the French Ministry of Research

Additional Information

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