Kicheva Group

Tissue Growth and Developmental Pattern Formation

Individuals of the same species can differ widely in size, but their organs have reproducible proportions and patterns of cell types. This requires the coordination of tissue growth with the generation of diverse cell types during development. The Kicheva group studies how this coordination is achieved in the vertebrate neural tube, the embryonic precursor of the spinal cord and brain.

Neural tube development is controlled by signaling molecules called morphogens. Morphogens determine what type of neuron a neural progenitor cell will become. They also control tissue growth by influencing the decisions of cells to divide or exit the cell cycle. The goal of the Kicheva group is to better understand how morphogen signaling is controlled and interpreted by cells to determine cell fate and cell cycle progression. One of the main projects in the lab investigates the role of the morphogen sonic hedgehog in controlling the size of the mouse neural tube. The group uses diverse quantitative experimental approaches. This includes collection of high-resolution spatiotemporal datasets of signaling and gene expression in mouse and chick neural tube development, imaging, and ex vivo assays. The group collaborates with biophysicists to relate their experiments to theoretical frameworks.

Group Leader

On this site:


Current Projects

Integration of opposing morphogen gradients | Morphogen control of tissue growth | Morphogen gradient formation


Guerrero P, Perez-Carrasco R, Zagórski MP, Page D, Kicheva A, Briscoe J, Page KM. 2019. Neuronal differentiation influences progenitor arrangement in the vertebrate neuroepithelium. Development. 146(23), dev176297. View

Zagórski MP, Tabata Y, Brandenberg N, Lutolf M, Tkacik G, Bollenbach T, Briscoe J, Kicheva A. 2017. Decoding of position in the developing neural tube from antiparallel morphogen gradients. Science. 356(6345), 1379–1383. View

Cohen M, Kicheva A, Ribeiro A, Blassberg R, Page K, Barnes C, Briscoe J. 2015. Ptch1 and Gli regulate Shh signalling dynamics via multiple mechanisms. Nature Communications. 6. View

Kicheva A, Bollenbach MT, Ribeiro A, Pérez Valle H, Lovell Badge R, Episkopou V, Briscoe J. 2014. Coordination of progenitor specification and growth in mouse and chick spinal cord. Science. 345(6204), 1254927. View

Kicheva A, Cohen M, Briscoe J. 2012. Developmental pattern formation: Insights from physics and biology. Science. 338(6104), 210–212. View

Wartlick O, Mumcu P, Kicheva A, Bittig T, Seum C, Jülicher F, González Gaitán M. 2011. Dynamics of Dpp signaling and proliferation control. Science. 331(6021), 1154–1159. View

Wartlick O, Kicheva A, González Gaitán M. 2009. Morphogen gradient formation . Cold Spring Harbor perspectives in biology. 1(3). View

Bollenbach T, Pantazis P, Kicheva A, Bokel C, González Gaitán M, Julicher F. 2008. Precision of the Dpp gradient. Development. 135(6), 1137–1146. View

Kicheva A, Pantazis P, Bollenbach T, Kalaidzidis Y, Bittig T, Julicher F, Gonzalez Gaitan M. 2007. Kinetics of morphogen gradient formation. Science. 315(5811), 521–525. View

View All Publications


since 2015 Assistant Professor, IST Austria
2008 – 2015 Postdoc, National Institute for Medical Research (The Francis Crick Institute), UK
2008 PhD, University of Geneva, Switzerland and Max Planck Institute of Cell Biology and Genetics, Dresden, Germany

Selected Distinctions

2015 ERC Starting Grant
2009 Marie-Curie Intra-European Fellowship
2008 FEBS Long-term Fellowship

Additional Information

View Kicheva group site

Back to Top