Biologists have long been fascinated by the first moments when cells divide to become complex tissues and organisms. Now engineers — with an eye toward treating cancer and regenerating tissue — are increasingly joining the hunt for the quantitative principles and underlying mathematics that determine how these processes succeed or fail.
A Princeton University-led research team has discovered an unexpected mechanism by which cells regulate an enzyme critical to early embryonic development in complex organisms, from yeast to humans. The work may inform new therapeutic strategies to fight cancer.
Students in the laboratory of Stas Shvartsman *99 study the early development of embryos, learning how basic genetic instructions govern an organism's growth and determine what it becomes. The experience also shapes their own growth as they follow Shvartsman's lead in combining engineering, physics, math, biology and computer science to break new scientific ground. "They are interested in, and willing to try, anything," Shvartsman said. "They are like stem cells-capable of becoming so many