A talk by Osamu Shimmi, Professor of Developmental Biology, on intracellular signals

The inaugural lecture by Osamu Shimmi, Professor of Developmental Biology at the University of Tartu, is entitled “Cellular dynamics and signalling in tissue development: lessons from the fruit fly Drosophila melanogaster” and will take place at 16:15 on Thursday 17 October in the University Assembly Hall. The lecture will be given in English.

Animal development from embryo to adulthood involves dynamic changes in tissue structure. Studies have shown that it is mediated by a limited number of signalling proteins inherent to animals. A signalling protein is a molecule that acts in a cell as a kind of trigger, activating a chain of reactions. Despite increasing knowledge of tissue morphogenesis, i.e. its formation and development, it remains poorly understood how dynamic tissue structure affects signal transduction.

In his lecture, Professor Shimmi will introduce a hypothesis suggesting that it is indeed intrinsic cellular signals which regulate the size, shape and type of cells in tissue development. He will also talk about recent findings on how changes in cellular structure impact tissue architecture and how research into the fruit fly leads to further understanding of both human development and human diseases.

Tambet Tõnissoo, Head of Chair and Associate Professor in Developmental Biology, said that the correct formation of the shape of an organism and the shapes of individual body parts is both one of the most crucial and one of the most complicated components of animal development. “During morphogenesis, cells migrate to their correct locations, communicating with other cells, exchanging information with their ambient environment, changing their shape and behaviour and dividing,” he explained.

In his scientific research, Professor Shimmi focuses on tissue morphogenesis and signalling in the fruit fly Drosophila melanogaster. According to Tambet Tõnissoo, Professor Shimmi has elegantly demonstrated how tissue morphogenesis happens in fruit fly wing development due to regulation by signal molecules inherent to animal organisms. “The developmental model of the wing of the fruit fly, which can easily be genetically modified, is quite remarkable, because knowledge of the mechanisms of morphogenesis helps us to unravel the mechanisms underlying many human diseases that involve disturbances in normal morphogenesis,” he said.

Professor Shimmi earned his PhD in biochemistry at the University of Tsukuba, Japan and was a postdoctoral fellow at the Howard Hughes Medical Institute, University of Minnesota, USA. Since 2005 he has been a group leader with the Developmental Biology programme at the Institute of Biotechnology at the University of Helsinki. He has been a member of the Centre of Excellence in Experimental and Computational Developmental Biology of the Academy of Finland since 2014.

The inaugural lecture will be livestreamed and can be followed via the UTTV video portal.

For further information please contact:
Osamu Shimmi, Professor of Developmental Biology, University of Tartu, +358 440 456 765, osamu.shimmi@ut.ee
Tambet Tõnissoo, Head of Chair, Associate Professor in Developmental Biology, University of Tartu, +372 737 5025, tambet.tonissoo@ut.ee

Sandra Sommer Press Officer Tel: +(372) 737 5681
Mob: +(372) 5307 7820 sandra.sommer@ut.ee