Meeting Organisers

Kat Hadjantonakis

Anna-Katerina (Kat) Hadjantonakis is a Member of the Sloan Kettering Institute of the Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center, and a Professor at Cornell University, New York City, USA. She received a BSc in Biochemistry in 1990, and PhD in Molecular Genetics in 1995, from Imperial College London. From 1996 to 2003 she undertook postdoctoral work, first at the Samuel Lunenfeld Research Institute, Toronto, and then at Columbia University, New York. She established her independent research group at Sloan Kettering in 2004.

As a developmental biologist, Kat studies cell lineage commitment, tissue patterning, and morphogenesis in mouse embryos and in vitro stem cell models. The overarching goal of her work is to understand how cells reproducibly build tissues across scales: from molecular circuits to cellular states and behaviours to tissue-level architecture.


Kristen Panfilio

Kristen Panfilio completed her Ph.D. at the University of Cambridge in 2007, and has been a group leader since 2012, initially at the University of Cologne, and, since 2017, at the University of Warwick.

The Panfilio group focuses on embryonic development in insects to investigate both (a) epithelial tissue morphogenesis and (b) molecular evolution and comparative genomics on macroevolutionary timescales. The research on morphogenesis - the creation of form - explores how the fertilized egg develops the correct organismal shape, and how strategies differ between species. Which features are robust, and which are sensitive to perturbation and could result in birth defects? To actively protect the embryo, the insect extraembryonic tissues exhibit many epithelial remodelling behaviours that are typical of animal development. The lab investigates the activity and genetic regulation of these epithelia through functional, live cell imaging investigations, primarily in the flour beetle Tribolium castaneum.  Overall, the main aim is to understand the regulatory control that strikes a balance between the evolution of species-specific features and robust development and organismal function.


Tristan Rodriguez

Tristan Rodriguez is senior lecturer at the National Heart and Lung Institute (NHLI), a department of Imperial College London. The research of his group focuses on understanding the mechanisms that control cell fitness during the early mammalian embryo by using genetically manipulated embryos and embryonic stem cells. Specifically, the Rodriguez group studies the selective pressures that act to remove suboptimal cells from the embryo. For this we combine approaches that span the fields of embryology, cell metabolism and cell signalling. We analyse both the cell intrinsic determinants of cell fitness with a specific focus on the mitochondria, as well as the cell non-autonomous mechanisms that regulate cell fitness. Much of the latter efforts are aimed at understanding cell competition. Cell competition is a quality control mechanism that allows the comparison of fitness levels between cells and results in the elimination of those cells that are less fit than their neighbours, even though they may be viable in a different context (we recently reviewed the subject in Di Gregorio et al., Developmental Cell 2016). We study both mechanism of cell competition as well as its importance in disease relevant contexts.


Susana Chuva de Sousa Lopes


Susana M. Chuva de Sousa Lopes is Associate Professor in the Dept. of Anatomy and Embryology at the Leiden University Medical Center, Leiden, the Netherlands. She was appointed Guest Professor at the Dept. Reproductive Medicine, University Ghent, Belgium in 2013. She is an elected member of the Special Interest Group “Stem Cells” and Dutch national “basic scientist” representative of the European Society of Human Reproduction and Embryology (ESHRE). She received an ERC Consolidator grant in 2016.

The Chuva de Sousa Lopes group investigates the developmental trajectories of human organs, with a particular interest for the urogenital system. Based on that, they developed an algorithm called Keygenes ( to facilitate the comparison of transcriptional data from differentiated human pluripotent stem cells to their in vivo counterparts. They combine single-cell transcriptomic analysis with exome sequencing allowing the reconstruction of parental haplotypes to quantify allele-specific expression in the human germline. Currently, they are performing a detailed study of the cellular networks that control development and maturation of the oocyte within the human adult ovary.


Shankar Srinivas


Shankar Srinivas earned an M.A., M.Phil. and Ph.D. from the Department of Genetics and Development in Columbia University, New York, USA, where he worked on embryonic kidney development. In 1999 he joined the National Institute for Medical Research in London, UK, as a postdoctoral fellow, where he worked on anterior patterning during mammalian embryogenesis. In 2004 he was awarded a Wellcome Trust Research Career Development Fellowship and joined the University of Oxford as a University Lecturer and as the Zeitlyn Fellow and Tutor in Medicine at Jesus College.

The Srinivas group works on how cell movements are controlled during mouse embryogenesis, particularly focusing on the following problems: a) the cellular mechanism for anterior patterning in mouse embryos; b) how the molecular motors that cause cell movements work in a coordinated manner; and c) what influence physical parameters have on cell fate specification during the formation of the pluripotent inner cell mass and its subsequent differentiation into other cell types.