Tissue Biology and Disease Modelling

Scientists at EMBL Barcelona focus on Tissue Biology and Disease Modelling

Scientists at EMBL Barcelona focus on tissue biology and disease modelling. Molecular biology underpins our understanding of life, but the human body is more than just a collection of incredible molecules and fascinating cell types. The correct functioning of our bodies also depends on a higher level of organisation: how millions of different cells interact with each other – chemically, physically and dynamically – to form healthy tissues and organs.

At EMBL Barcelona, we go beyond the molecular and cellular scale to ask questions such as: How do thousands of cells dynamically self-organise to create tissues and organs? Why does this sometimes go wrong, causing birth defects? How could we repair damaged tissues? Why does an efficient blood vessel depend on interactions between multiple different cell types? How do infectious diseases attack tissues? Can we engineer healthy or novel tissues in the laboratory? How do the physical properties of tissues influence their dynamics? Can we go beyond animal models, and use bio-engineered tissues to develop treatments for diseases such as cancer or malaria?

To tackle these grand challenges, we combine an interdisciplinary mix of approaches. We integrate molecular and cellular data with tissue engineering, multicellular omics, 3D mesoscopic imaging, computer modelling and gene circuits. Currently our research topics cover embryonic organoids, organ development, in vitro vascular models and disease modelling.

In this highly collaborative and international environment, EMBL researchers benefit from partnerships and collaborations with the Centre for Genomic Regulation (CRG), the Institute for Bioengineering of Catalonia (IBEC), the Spanish National Research Council (CSIC), and other pioneering research institutes, both on campus and in the region. Perched on the Barcelona seafront, and within walking distance of the city’s iconic architecture, the site is bathed in the energy of this bustling, creative metropolis.


Groups in this unit

Bernabeu group

In vitro 3D blood-brain barrier model and cerebral malaria

Ebisuya group

Synthetic developmental biology - cross-species comparison and manipulation of organoids

Haase group

Engineering vascularised tissue-specific disease models


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The 74 research groups at EMBL are organised into nine units spanning six European sites.