The problem of how cells become organized into three-dimensional tissues is one of the most important topics in biological research. Precisely coordinated changes in cellular behavior determine the shape and size of organs forming during embryogenesis. In adult organisms, dynamic changes in tissue organization underlie wound healing and regeneration, while a loss thereof is a hallmark of cancer. Therefore, studies addressing tissue dynamics in embryos or cultured multicellular systems will have a great impact on our understanding of medically important processes.
Traditionally, developmental biologists have studied such processes using a global, static readout at the organism level. By contrast, cell biologists have a tradition of studying dynamic aspects of cell machinery using isolated cells in an artificial environment. It is clear however, that in order to understand the morphogenesis and dynamics of multicellular systems these two disciplines have to merge. Furthermore, as many aspects of morphogenesis involve physical mechanisms, such as force generation or modulating tension, it is desirable to include biophysical approaches when addressing morphogenesis. This means computer based experimental approaches such as simulations will play an increasingly important role in this field.
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