The University of Michigan School of Dentistry
The remarkable repertoire of shapes and structures in the biological world has long captivated scientists. Our lab is dedicated to understanding the complex choreography of cells as they organize during early animal development, giving rise to diverse organ morphologies, which we achieve through genetic manipulation, advanced microscopy, and computational data analysis, in two different model systems:
1. The mouse skeletal system, where we strive to understand how various cell organizations contribute to the formation of hundreds of cartilage and bone morphologies in each animal during early development and in genetic skeletal disorders.
(Design of the bottom panel adapted from Rubin et al., 2021, Nat. Commun. Courtesy of Elazar Zelzer and Sarah Rubin, Weizmann Institute of Scinence. Mouse picture was generated by George Shuklin and is used under the CC BY-SA 1.0 Generic license.)
2. The early fruit fly embryo, where our aim is to explore the role of cell divisions in gastrulation and examine how cell movements are coordinated during this crucial developmental stage.
A significant portion of our work involves analyzing high-resolution live microscopy data, or "biological movies," which capture developing tissues in remarkable detail. This level of visual complexity exceeds our ability to analyze with the naked eye. To overcome this challenge, we develop advanced image processing and machine learning algorithms that can sift through the data, identify biologically interesting events, summarize them, and visualize them in a variety of ways. One of our major goals is to create algorithms capable of reconstructing the complete cell lineage tree of the early fruit fly embryo.
By combining cutting-edge techniques with a deep understanding of biology, our lab endeavors to decode the intricate choreography of morphogenesis and unlock the secrets behind nature's diverse forms.
Dr. Tomer Stern is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Biologic and Materials Sciences & Prosthodontics at the University of Michigan School of Dentistry. He earned his undergraduate degree in Computer Science and Bioinformatics from the Academic College of Tel Aviv-Yaffo, Israel. He then went on to receive both his M.Sc. and Ph.D. in Computational Biology from the Weizmann Institute of Science, Israel, under the supervision of Elazar Zelzer. During his doctoral studies, he researched the morphological development of endochondral bones by developing advanced image processing algorithms for micro-CT images. Dr. Stern completed his postdoctoral research at Princeton University under the guidance of Eric Wieschaus (Nobel Prize laureate, 1995) and Stanislav Shvartsman. His work focused on whole embryo computational analysis of cell activity driving gastrulation movements at single-cell resolution, using the fruit fly model. Among his many accolades, Dr. Stern is a long-term fellow of the European Molecular Biology Organization (EMBO), and a recipient of the Hammer Scholarship of the Israeli Ministry of Education.
We are excited to welcome new members to our vibrant research group. We currently have opportunities available for graduate students and postdoctoral fellows who are passionate about conducting research in developmental biology and especially in morphogenesis, with a focus on the mouse skeletal system or early fruit fly embryos. While having a computational background is a plus, it is not a necessity – we value diverse skill sets. Please contact Dr. Stern (firstname.lastname@example.org).