Prisca Liberali

Design principles of tissue organization
Friedrich Miescher Institute for Biomedical Research (Switzerland)


Prisca has been trained as a physical organic chemist and then changed fields for her PhD and became a molecular cell biologist. During her postdoc she has developed single-cell methods to study cell-to-cell variability and its involvement in the emergence of complex cellular traits. She is a senior group leader at the Friedrich Miescher Institute and has become fascinated by the role of self-organisation in collective cell behaviours, and how these are coordinated by biochemical and mechanical cues. Because these emergent phenomena have multiple layers of biological organisation at different scales, the laboratory develops novel experimental, quantitative, and statistical methods required to decoding the design principles of tissue organization. She was received the ERC Starting Grant , became an EMBO YIP and was awarded the Friedrich Miescher price in 2021.

About her talk: Design principles of tissue organization

Multicellular organisms are composed of cells and tissues with identical genomes but different properties and functions. They all develop from one cell to form multicellular structures of astounding complexity. During development, in a series of spatio-temporal coordinated steps, cells differentiate into different cell types and establish tissue-scale architectures and functions. Throughout life, continuous tissue renewal and regeneration is required for tissue homeostasis, which also requires fine-tuned spatio-temporal coordination of cells. I will discuss how cellular interactions generate the specific contexts and spatio-temporal coordination underlying development and regeneration and how we specifically investigate what are the molecular and physical mechanisms that allow a cell, in a tissue, to sense its complex environment, to take individual coordinated decisions. Moreover, I will discuss the molecular mechanisms of intestinal organoid self-organization and the role of cell-to-cell variability in populations of differentiating cells during symmetry breaking.