1 September 2020

Associate Professor Mariaceleste Aragona joins DanStem

group leader

The Novo Nordisk Foundation Center for Stem Cell Biology (DanStem) at The Faculty of Health and Medical Sciences, University of Copenhagen is glad to announce a new Associate Professor to join the Center in September 2020.

Associate Professor Mariaceleste Aragona will establish a research group aiming to understand how neighbouring cells coordinate their decisions to build tissues with specialized structure and function. In particular, they will investigate how tissue architecture is maintained and how mechanical cues affect gene transcription, stem cells dynamics and fate decisions.

Mariaceleste’s background covers many aspects of modern developmental and molecular biology. In her PhD thesis she greatly contributed to the identification of YAP and TAZ (the downstream factors of the Hippo pathway) as sensors and mediators of mechanical cues. She mastered her knowledge on epithelia biology and professionalized in stem cell fate decision using a combination of lineage tracing, proliferation kinetics, molecular profiling and mathematical modelling.

 “My main contribution to the stem cell field so far was the identifications of the molecular mechanisms by which specific transcription factors relay mechanical signals to the nucleus and how these are used by the stem cells of the skin epidermis to respond to tissue stretching and for tissue regeneration.

At DanStem I plan to investigate how the different component of a tissue collectively react to external stress to maintain homeostasis. In particular, I will study tissues that are naturally subjected to different mechanical perturbations such as the skin and the urinary tract. My ultimate goal is to provide a deeper knowledge on how these epithelia are naturally built, in order to direct new approaches for regenerative and reconstructive therapies.”- Mariaceleste Aragona

In her research Mariaceleste uncovered how different stem cells populations in the skin epidermis balance proliferation, migration and differentiation during wound healing. Furthermore, she studied how mechanical stretching impacts skin stem cell behavior. By combining clonal analysis, single cell RNA sequencing and chromatin profiling, she dissected step-by-step the clonal dynamics and molecular mechanisms by which epidermal stem cells respond to mechanical forces in vivo.

“Mariaceleste Aragona will bring new expertise and ideas of how physical forces in the stem cell niche control the transcriptional regulation of self-renewal and differentiation of stem cells. Her research will strengthen the Center’s ambition to fully understand at the cellular and molecular level how stem cells contribute to organ formation during development and tissue/organ homeostasis and regeneration in the adult”. Professor Henrik Semb, Executive Director DanStem

The Aragona group at DanStem will focus on understanding how mechanical cues shape tissue architecture and change epithelial stem cells dynamics during homeostasis and organ growth. A main goal of the lab is also to establish a collaborative environment in which creativity and diversity are supported.

See more information: The Aragona Group at DanStem https://danstem.ku.dk/research1/aragona/