Welcome to the Kicheva lab

How are the correct sizes and shapes of developing organs established? Our research focuses on understanding this question in the context of spinal cord development. The early developing spinal cord is an epithelial tissue composed of multiple neural progenitor subtypes organized in a precise spatial pattern. This pattern forms in response to signaling molecules called morphogens, which are produced at the opposite poles of the tissue and form gradients of activity across the tissue. Morphogens also control tissue growth, yet the precise mechanisms are poorly understood.

We study the mechanisms of tissue growth control in the neural tube, focusing on the role of morphogens. We are also interested in the feedbacks between tissue growth, pattern formation and morphogenesis. Our research integrates a range of approaches:

  • imaging and quantitative analysis and of in vivo development in mouse and chick
  • in vitro systems, including organoids, to study self-organization and test principles
  • biophysical modeling

Schematic of a cross-section through the developing spinal cord. Shh, and ligands from the BMP and Wnt families form opposing gradients of signaling activity along the dorsoventral (DV) axis.

The size of the neural tube increases substantially during development as a result of progenitor proliferation. At the same time the pattern of neural progenitor subtypes (here in different colors) also changes dynamically over time.


ERC Consolidator Grant (2022

Mechanisms of tissue size regulation in spinal cord development

SFB Grant, FWF Austria (2020)

Stem cell modulation in neural development and regeneration


ERC Starting Grant (2015)

Coordination of patterning and growth in the spinal cord

Grant #680037. For more information, click here.