Short CV/Education and training

  • 1987
    MSc in Developmental Biology, University of Warsaw, Poland

  • 1993
    PhD in Mammalian Development, University of Warsaw, Prof. Andrzej Tarkowski's group

  • 1993 – 1997
    Adjunct in the Department of Embryology, Faculty of Biology, University of Warsaw

  • 1995 – 1997
    EMBO Fellow in Prof. Martin Evans group, Wellcome Trust/CRC Institute, Cambridge

  • 1997 – 2002
    Lister Senior Research Fellow, The Gurdon Institute, University of Cambridge

  • 1997 – 2003
    Senior Research Fellow, Sidney Sussex College, University of Cambridge

  • Since 2002
    Wellcome Trust Senior Research Fellow, The Gurdon Institute, University of Cambridge

  • 2007 – 2010
    Reader in Developmental Biology, University of Cambridge

  • Since 2010
    Professor of Mammalian Development and Stem Cell Biology, University of Cambridge

Selected publications

  • Morris S, Guo A & Zernicka-Goetz M (2012). Developmental plasticity is bound by pluripotency and the fgf and wnt signaling pathways. Cell Reports, pii: S2211-1247(12)00269

  • Morris SA, Grewal S, Barrios F, Patankar SN, Strauss B, Buttery L, Alexander M, Shakesheff KM, Zernicka-Goetz M. (2012). Dynamics of anterior-posterior axis formation in the developing mouse embryo. Nature Communication. 3:673.

  • Ajduk A, Ilozue T, Windsor S, Yu Y, Seres KB, Bomphrey RJ, Tom BD, Swann K, Thomas A, Graham C, Zernicka-Goetz M. (2011). Rhythmic actomyosin-driven contractions induced by sperm entry predict mammalian embryo viability. Nature Commun. 9;2:417.

  • Morris SA, Teo RT, Li H, Robson P, Glover DM, and Zernicka-Goetz M (2010). Origin and formation of the first two distinct cell types of the inner cell mass in the mouse embryo. PNAS. 6;107(14):6364-9

  • Jedrusik A, Parfitt DE, Guo G, Skamagki M, Grabarek JB, Johnson MH, Robson M & Zernicka-Goetz M (2008). Role of Cdx2 and cell polarity in cell allocation and specification of trophectoderm and inner cell mass in the mouse embryo. Genes and Development, 22:2692-706.

  • Torres-Padilla M.E., Parfitt D.E. Kouzarides, T and Zernicka-Goetz, M. (2007). Histone arginine methylation directs cells towards pluripotency in the preimplantation mouse embryo. Nature, 445(7124):214-8.

  • Piotrowska-Nitsche K, Perea-Gomez A, Haraguchi S and Zernicka-Goetz M. (2005). Four-cell stage mouse blastomeres have different developmental properties. Development 132:479-91

  • Wang QT, Piotrowska K, Ciemerych MA, Milenkovic L, Scott MP, Davis RW, and Zernicka-Goetz, M. (2004). A genome-wide study of gene activity reveals developmental signalling pathways active in mammalian oocytes and pre-implantation embryos. Developmental Cell 6:133-144.

  • Plusa B, Hajantonakis A-K, Gray D, Piotrowska-Nitsche K, Jedrusik A, Papaloannou VE, Glover DM and Zernicka-Goetz M (2005). The first cleavage of the mouse zygote predicts the blastocyst axis. Nature 434, 391-395

  • Piotrowska K, Zernicka-Goetz M (2001) Role for sperm in spatial patterning of the early mouse embryo. Nature 25;409(6819):517-21.

  • Piotrowska K, Wianny F, Pedersen RA, Zernicka-Goetz M (2001). Blastomeres arising from the first cleavage division have distinguishable fates in normal mouse development. Development:128:3739-48.

  • Wianny, F & Zernicka-Goetz, M. (2000). Specific interference with gene function by double stranded RNA in mouse. Nature Cell Biology 2:70-75.

Complete list of publications

Selected projects

  • Magdalena is a Professor in Developmental and Stem Cell Biology at the University of Cambridge studying the early development of the mammalian embryo. As a post-doc in Martin Evans lab she developed GFP as a gene expression and lineage tracer that, together with other novel labelling and time-lapse imaging techniques, allowed her to generate a complete atlas of cell-fate in the mouse embryo. She also was first to use RNAi in mammalian cells, and by complementing this by injecting mRNAs into individual cells was able to determine genes directing cell-fate. These studies let to the question of whether the mouse embryo's cells are truly "blank-slates" awaiting instructions – the accepted dogma at the time. Magda's group's research revealed that even at the earliest embryonic stages cells carry epigenetic information that biases fate – knowledge that has helped understand the first major developmental switches. Her recent work has identified cytoplasmic movements occurring upon fertilization, the quality of which predicts embryo viability. The applicability of this to human embryos is under trial in the IVF clinic. Most recently she has established methods for culturing embryos beyond implantation outside the mother's body. This offers exciting potential for addressing how the shape and pattern of the body begins to form and the expansion of the embryo's natural stem cells is achieved.

Membership in scientific bodies/juries

  • International Society of Differentiation Board Member

  • MRC Stem Cell Centre in Cambridge, Associate Member

  • Council of the Cambridge Philosophical Society

  • Member of Editorial Boards of: Development, Developmental Dynamics, Faculty of 1000, Reproduction, BMC Dev Biol, Differentiation

Soft Skills/Other activities and achievements

Additional interests

  • Art and Cinema


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