Awardees' Articles

HFSP Cross-Disciplinary Fellow Ana Amador and colleagues

Monday 14th October 2013

The underlying similarities in the biomechanical mechanisms of vocalization in songbirds and humans make songbirds an interesting animal model to study learned vocalizations. By developing a novel technique for pressure manipulation during singing, we modified the vocal output in various ways to study mechanisms of vocal control. Results were validated with a physical model for song production that shed light on dynamical mechanisms for frequency control that could be extrapolated to humans.


HFSP Long-Term Fellow Franck Oury and colleagues

Thursday 10th October 2013

The skeleton regulates functions as important and diverse as glucose metabolism, energy expenditure and male fertility. Looking for additional potential endocrine roles of the bone, a dialogue of functional importance between the bone and the brain was identified. This crosstalk occurs at several stages throughout life and relies on an osteoblast-derived hormone called osteocalcin.


HFSP Cross-Disciplinary Fellow Sabine Hauert and colleagues

Thursday 26th September 2013

NanoDoc ( is a new online game to crowdsource the design of nanomedicine. It allows bioengineers and the general public to imagine nanoparticle strategies towards the treatment of cancer and test them on a virtual tumor. The challenge is to design nanoparticles that interact with each other and their environment in a way that leads to better treatment outcomes. The ultimate goal is to design nanoparticles that swarm like self-organized systems in nature. Best strategies will be...


HFSP Program Grant holders Andrea d'Avella and Dinesh Pai and colleagues

Monday 23rd September 2013

How does the brain control complex motor skills and why are some skills harder to learn than others? Using simulated surgeries during a manipulation task a new study provides direct evidence that the nervous system groups muscles into modules, or muscle synergies, to simplify movement control. It shows that skills that require new or modified modules are harder to learn than skills that don’t.


HFSP Cross-Disciplinary Fellow Gregory Sutton and colleagues

Monday 16th September 2013

When insects jump, they require incredibly precise mechanisms to synchronize the extension of their legs. The nymphs of the planthopper, issus coleoptratus, achieve this synchrony with a biological gear train that ensures that the two hind legs extend within microseconds of each other. This is the first observation of intermeshing rotating gears in nature.


HFSP Long-Term Fellow Nicola Iovino and colleagues

Friday 6th September 2013

The oocyte is a very specialized cell that carries the genetic information necessary for the development of the future organism. The developmental process that drives a germline stem cell to an oocyte fate requires extensive reorganization of the genome and extensive gene expression control to prepare for the complex process of meiosis. Several players have been shown to be involved in oocyte fate commitment and determination, but so far no chromatin determinant of the oocyte fate has been described...


HFSP Long-Term Fellows Eivind Valen and Andrea Pauli and HFSP Program Grant holders Aviv Regev and Alexander Schier and colleagues

Thursday 5th September 2013

Over the last decade, thousands of novel genes which do not code for proteins have been found. Using high throughput genome-wide measurements of translation combined with a machine learning approach we showed that a substantial fraction of these long non-coding RNAs are in fact translated but are unlikely to produce functional peptides. Instead, we suggest that ribosomes could have a regulatory role when engaging non-coding RNAs. We also found that computational pipelines for long non-coding RNA...


HFSP Long-Term Fellow Phillip Karpowicz and colleagues

Monday 2nd September 2013

The intestine needs to heal itself effectively because animals can eat harmful chemicals, viruses, or bacteria in their food at any time. This healing process follows a 24 hour (Circadian) rhythm, and involves genes that sense the time of day in the intestine’s cells.


HFSP Long-Term Fellow Mounia Lagha and colleagues

Friday 30th August 2013

Most developmental patterning genes contain paused Pol II in the early Drosophila embryo. Here we show that paused promoters mediate synchronous temporal sweeps of gene expression within embryonic tissues, while nonpaused genes cause delayed coordination profiles. Promoters containing intermediate levels of Pol II exhibit a transitional spectrum of temporal profiles. Moreover, mutations that reduce the levels of Pol II cause delayed profiles of expression. Remarkably, replacing the strongly paused...


HFSP CDA Holder Stefano de Renzis and collaborators

Thursday 22nd August 2013

Cell shape changes during morphogenesis require the expansion or contraction of plasma membrane domains. While the role of the cytoskeleton in driving plasma membrane remodeling is well established, the contribution of membrane trafficking remains an open question. By following epithelial development during Drosophila embryogenesis we show that apical plasma membrane flattening is an endocytosis driven morphogenetic process characterized by the formation of long tubular plasma membrane invaginations...