Morphogenesis in Development

Carl-Philipp Heisenberg

Carl-Philipp Heisenberg studies the molecular and cellular mechanisms by which vertebrate embryos take shape. To obtain insights into critical processes in vertebrate morphogenesis, such as cell adhesion, migration, and polarization, the Heisenberg group focuses on gastrulation movements in zebrafish. Gastrulation is a highly conserved morphogenetic process describing the transformation of a seemingly unstructured blastula into a highly organized gastrula-stage embryo composed of the three germ layers ectoderm, mesoderm and endoderm. Zebrafish is an ideal organism to study gastrulation movements as embryos develop outside of the mother and are easily accessible for both experimental and genetic manipulations. To analyze gastrulation movements, the Heisenberg group uses a multi-disciplinary approach employing a combination of genetic, cell biological, biochemical and biophysical techniques. Utilizing these different experimental tools, they are unraveling the molecular and cellular mechanisms underlying zebrafish gastrulation movements.

Carl-Philipp Heisenberg
Institute of Science and Technology Austria (IST Austria)
Am Campus 1
A – 3400 Klosterneuburg

Phone: +43 (0)2243 9000-3901

CV and publication list

Heisenberg Group website

Louis Alesch

Phone: +43 (0)2243 9000-1032


  • Silvia Caballero Mancebo, PhD Student
  • Daniel Capek, PhD Student
  • Joana Enes, Technician
  • Benoit Godard, Postdoc
  • Karla Huljev, PhD Student
  • Roland Kardos, Postdoc
  • Feyza Nur Arslan, PhD Student
  • Nicoletta Petridou, Postdoc
  • Diana Pinheiro, Postdoc
  • Kornelija Pranjic-Ferscha, Technician
  • Alexandra Schauer, PhD Student
  • Cornelia Schwayer, PhD Student
  • Shayan Shamipour, PhD Student
  • Jana Slovakova, Postdoc
  • Stefania Tavano, Postdoc
  • Peng Xia, Postdoc

Current Projects

  • Cell adhesion
  • Actomyosin contractility and morphogensis
  • Cell polarization

Selected Publications

  • Smutny M, Ákos Z, Grigolon S, Shamipour S, Ruprecht V, Čapek D, Behrndt M, Papusheva E, Tada M, Hof B, Vicsek T, Salbreux G, Heisenberg CP. Friction forces position the neural anlage. 2017. Nat Cell Biol. 9(4):306-317.
  • Ruprecht V, Wieser S, Callan-Jones A, Smutny M, Morita H, Sako K, Barone V, Ritsch-Marte M, Sixt M, Voituriez R, Heisenberg CP. Cortical contractility triggers a stochastic switch to fast amoeboid cell motility. Cell. 2015 Feb 12;160(4):673-85.
  • Behrndt M, Salbreux G, Campinho P, Hauschild R, Oswald F, Roensch J, Grill S, Heisenberg CP. 2012. Forces driving epithelial spreading in zebrafish gastrulation. Science 338(6104):257-260.
  • Maitre JL, Berthoumieux H, Krens SF, Salbreux G, Juelicher F, Paluch E, Heisenberg CP. 2012. Adhesion Functions in Cell Sorting by Mechanically Coupling the Cortices of Adhering Cells. Science. 338(6104):253-256.

      Since 2010 Professor, IST Austria
      2001–2010 Group Leader, Max-Planck Institute, Dresden, Germany
      1997–2000 Postdoc, University College London, UK
      1993–1996 PhD, Max-Planck Institute, Tübingen, Germany

      Selected Distinctions
      2017 Annual Science Prize Lower Austria
      2017 ERC Advanced Grant
      2016 Member of EMBO
      2015 Member of National Academy of Sciences (Leopoldina)
      2000 Emmy Noether Junior Professorship
      1998 Marie-Curie Postdoctoral Fellowship
      1997 EMBO Postdoctoral Fellowship

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