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University of Basel

21 December 2018

«Breakthrough of the Year 2018» for Alex Schier

Zebrafish embryo at an early stage of development. Gene expression determines cell fate. Jeffrey Farrell (Schier lab)
Zebrafish embryo at an early stage of development. Gene expression determines cell fate. Image: Jeffrey Farrell (Schier lab)

Publications of Prof. Alex Schier from the Biozentrum, University of Basel, and Harvard University were named "Breakthrough of the Year 2018" by the magazine “Science”. In their studies, his research team was able to reconstruct the developmental trajectories of individual embryonic cells for the first time.

The team led by Alex Schier, Director of the Biozentrum, University of Basel, and Professor at Harvard University, showed in publications in Science and Nature Biotechnology how single embryonic cells develop into a heart, nerve or blood cell. These studies have now been selected by Science Magazine as the Breakthrough of the Year 2018. Schier’s studies were selected together with additional studies of cellular development. In addition, the readership of Science selected these studies for the “People’s Choice Breakthrough of the Year 2018”.

The researchers combined various techniques for their work, including the sequencing and mutagenesis of thousands of individual cells, to track in detail how tissues and entire animals develop from a single cell. They were able to reconstruct the developmental process of individual embryonic cells for the first time and, in addition, showed that cells can change their path during their maturation process.

The title “Breakthrough of the Year” has been awarded annually since 1996 by Science Magazine.


Publications

Jeffrey A. Farrell, Yiqun Wang, Samantha J. Riesenfeld, Karthik Shekhar, Aviv Regev, Alexander F. Schier 
Single-cell reconstruction of developmental trajectories during zebrafish embryogenesis
Science (2018), doi: 10.1126/science.aar3131

Raj B, Wagner DE, McKenna A, Pandey S, Klein AM, Shendure J, Gagnon JA, Schier AF
Simultaneous single-cell profiling of lineages and cell types in the vertebrate brain
Nature Biotechnology (2018), doi: 10.1038/nbt.4103

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