In multicellular organisms, stem cells are the key components giving rise to tissue growth, maintenance, and regeneration. During development and adult life, a tight balance of cell proliferation and differentiation is vital to ensure the correct composition of a tissue and its homeostasis. Deviations from this balance are often hallmarks of serious diseases such as cancer or diabetes.
While it has been shown that probabilistic rules for proliferation and differentiation are sufficient to characterize the population dynamics of the stem cell pool, the biochemical basis of these rules is not understood.
Which are the factors regulating stem cell fate decisions? How do signaling factors regulate the number of stem cells in a specific organ or parts thereof? How is the coordination of cells over long distances (hundreds of cells) achieved?
Using methods from statistical physics and dynamical systems theory, I investigate how stem cells maintain adult tissue and lead to recovery of tissue after injury. Moreover, I study how the stem cell pool size is regulated by intercellular signaling.