Ditte Skovaa Andersen and Julien Colombani

Associate Professors of Cell and Neurobiology

Ditte Andersen

Ditte’s professional career has focused on understanding the regulatory network underlying tissue growth and physiology and how these processes are coupled with developmental in the fruit fly model. After completing her PhD in fly genetics at the Cancer Research UK (currently the CRICK) institute in London, she moved to the laboratory of Dr. Pierre Leopold at the IBv institute in Nice, where she studied the processes coordinating organ growth during development. This pioneering work identified an insulin-like peptide that is released from damaged organs and acts on the central nervous system to coordinate tissue growth with development transitions. As a postdoc, she was recipient of the prestigious Marie Curie and Danish Natural Science Research Council fellowships.

In 2013, she was awarded a prestigious senior staff scientist position at INSERM, which allowed her to pursue her interest in understanding the processes controlling tissue size homeostasis and epithelial tumorigenesis. Her pioneering work identified a ligand-independent role of tumour necrosis factor receptors in coupling loss of polarity with tumorigenesis.

In 2018, she was awarded the prestigious “European Research Council starting grant” and “Young Investigator award” from the Novo Nordisk Foundation to establish a group at Copenhagen University. The Andersen-Colombani group focuses on identifying the physiological and environmental factors controlling intestinal stem cell proliferation and gut physiology. In particular, their research focuses on how intestinal stem cells and the gut communicate with non-gastro-intestinal organs to coordinate adaptive responses to changes in physiological and environmental cues.

Awards and Honours

Ditte is the recipient of personal awards and grants including:

  • European Research Council “starting grant”
  • Novo Nordisk Young Investigator award
  • Marie Curie Intra-European Fellowship
  • Danish Natural Science Research Council Fellowship
  • Cancer Research UK Graduate Studentship
  • Danish Cancer Society Fellowship

Selected publications

Boulan L., Andersen D.S., Colombani J., Boone E. & Léopold P. (2019) Inter-Organ Growth Coordination Is Mediated by the Xrp1-Dilp8 Axis in Drosophila. Dev Cell. 2019 Jun 3;49(5):811-818

de Vreede G., Morrison H.A., Houser A.M., Boileau R.B., Andersen D.S., Colombani J. and Bilder D.. A Drosophila tumor suppressor gene prevents tonic TNF signaling through receptor N-glycosylation. Dev Cell 45, 595-605 (2018).

Boone, E.1, Colombani, J, Andersen, D.S., Léopold, P.§. The Hippo signalling pathway coordinates organ growth and limits developmental variability by controlling dilp8 expression. Nat Commun., doi: 10.1038/ncomms13505 (2016).

Colombani, J1, Andersen, D.S., Boulan, L., Boone, E., Romero, N., Virolle, V., Texada, M., and Léopold, P.§. Drosophila Lgr3 couples organ growth with maturation and ensures developmental stability. Curr Biol 25, 2723-9 (2015). § Corresponding author; 1 Co-first authors

Andersen, D.S.1, Colombani, J, Palmerini, V., Chakrabandhu, K., Boone, E., Röthlisberger, M., Toggweiler, J., Basler, K., Mapelli, M., Hueber, A-O., and Léopold, P.§. The Drosophila TNF receptor Grindelwald couples loss of cell polarity and neoplastic growth. Nature, doi: 10.1038/nature14298 (2015). § Corresponding author; 1 Co-first authors

Colombani, J1., Andersen, D. S. & Leopold, P§. Secreted peptide Dilp8 coordinates Drosophila tissue growth with developmental timing. Science 336, 582-5 (2012). § Corresponding author;

1 Co-first authors

Julien Colombani

Julien has focused his research on the processes controlling growth and developmental timing using Drosophila melanogaster as a model organism. Julien undertook his Ph.D. training in Drosophila genetics in Dr. Leopold’s group at the IBv institute, University of Sophia-Antipolis, in Nice where his pioneering work led to the discovery that the fat tissue functions as a central nutrient sensor that remotely controls insulin secretion. After completing his PhD, he joined Dr. Tapon’s team at the Cancer Research UK (currently the CRICK) institute in London, where he studied the processes controlling tissue size. These studies led to several important discoveries related to how cell-cell adhesions are remodelled during developmental morphogenesis. As a postdoc, he was recipient of the prestigious EMBO fellowship.

In 2008, Julien was awarded a prestigious senior staff scientist position at the “Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique” (CNRS) in Dr. Leopold’s team. He continued making pioneering contributions to the growth and physiology field. His work identified an insulin-like peptide that is released from damaged organs and acts on the central nervous system to coordinate tissue growth with development transitions. He then revisited his interest in understanding the processes controlling tissue size homeostasis and epithelial tumorigenesis. His work was pioneering in identifying a ligand-independent role of tumour necrosis factor receptors in coupling loss of polarity with tumorigenesis. In 2016, Julien was awarded the prestigious Bronze medal by CRNS for his career-long major contributions to Science.

In 2019, Dr. Julien Colombani and Dr. Ditte Andersen set up a joint team at Copenhagen University. The Andersen-Colombani group focuses on identifying the physiological and environmental factors controlling intestinal stem cell proliferation and gut physiology. The Andersen-Colombani group focuses on identifying the physiological and environmental factors controlling intestinal stem cell proliferation and gut physiology. In particular, their research focuses on how intestinal stem cells and the gut communicate with non-gastro-intestinal organs to coordinate adaptive responses to changes in physiological and environmental cues.

Awards and Honours

Julien is the recipient of personal awards and grants including:

  • Projets foundation ARC» (French association for cancer research) grant
  • Awarded the prestigious Bronze Medal by CNRS in 2016
  • Selected for "Les grandes avancées françaises en biologie présentées par leurs auteurs", at the French Academy of Science, Paris.
  • EMBO long-term fellowship
  • Governmental grant

Selected publications

de Vreede G., Morrison H.A., Houser A.M., Boileau R.B., Andersen D.S., Colombani J. and Bilder D.. A Drosophila tumor suppressor gene prevents tonic TNF signaling through receptor N-glycosylation. Dev Cell. 2018 Jun 4;45(5):595-605.

Boone E, Colombani J*, Andersen DS, Léopold P*. (2016). The Hippo signalling pathway coordinates organ growth and limits developmental variability by controlling dilp8 expression. Nat Commun. 2016 Nov 22; 7: 13505. * Corresponding author.

Colombani J.§, Andersen DS.§, Boulan L., Boone E., Romero N., Virolle V., Texada M. and Léopold P. (2015). Drosophila Lgr3 couples organ growth with maturation and ensures developmental stability. Curr Biol, 2015 Oct 19; 25 (20):2723-29. § Co-first authors.

Andersen DS.§, Colombani J.§,*, Palmerini V., Chakrabandhu K., Röthlisberger M., Toggweiler J., Basler K., Marina Mapelli, Hueber A.O. and Leopold P*. (2015). The Drosophila TNF receptor Grindewald couples loss of cell polarity with neoplastic growth. Nature, 2015 Jun 25; 522 (7557) : 482-6. § Ces auteurs ont contribué à part égale au travail. * Corresponding author.

Colombani J.§, Andersen DS.§*, Léopold P. (2012). Secreted peptide Dilp8 coordinates Drosophila tissue growth with developmental timing. Science, 2012 May 4 ; 336 (6081), 582–5. § Co-first authors.

Langton PF.§, Colombani J.§, Chan EHY., Wepf A., Gstaiger M., Tapon N. (2009). The dASPP-dRASSF8 Complex Regulates Cell-Cell Adhesion during Drosophila Retinal Morphogenesis. Curr Biol. 2009 Dec 15; 19 (23): 1969-78. § Co-first authors.

Langton PF.§, Colombani J.§, Aerne BL. & Tapon N. (2007). Drosophila ASPP regulates C-terminal Src kinase activity. Dev Cell. 2007 Dec 4; 13 (6): 773-82. § Co-first authors.

Colombani J., Polesello C., Josue F. & Tapon N. (2006). Dmp53 activates the Hippo pathway to promote cell death in response to DNA damage. Curr Biol. 2006 July 25; 16 (14): 1453-8.

Colombani J.§, Bianchini L.§, Layalle S.§, Pondeville E., Dauphin-Villemant C., Antoniewski C., Carré C., Noselli S. & Léopold P. (2005). Antagonistic Actions of Ecdysone and Insulins Determine Final Size in Drosophila. Science. 2005 Oct 28; 310 (5748): 667-70. § Co-first authors

Colombani J., Raisin-Tani S., Pantalacci S., Radimerski T., Montagne J. &  Léopold  P. (2003). A nutrient sensor mechanism controls Drosophila growth. Cell. 2003 Sept 19; 114 (6): 739-49.