James Sharpe

Centre de Regulació Genòmica

Life & Medical Sciences

1997: PhD MRC National Institute for Medical Research at Mill Hill, London (UK). "Cis-regulatory mechanisms of the Hox genes in mouse development". Lab of Dr. Robb Krumlauf. 1997-1998: Postdoc on Xenopus development, University of Chile. 1998: MRC Human Genetics Unit, Edinburgh. Postdoc on computational approaches to study mouse limb development. 2001: Development of a 3D optical imaging technique and introduction of the term "Optical Projection Tomography", commercialised under the name Bioptonics. 2003: Group Leader in Edinburgh. 2006: Senior Group Leader at the Centre de Regulació Genòmica, Barcelona (Spain). 2011: Acting Coordinator of the EMBL-CRG Systems Biology Program. 2014: Coordinator of the EMBL-CRG Systems Biology Program.

Research interests

The physical complexity of a human being, or even a single organ, is truly astounding. The goal of my lab is to understand how the activities of gene networks controls the millions of cells which make up our organs - allowing them to communicate with each other, to decide what to do at each moment during embryo development: whether to divide, which way to move, and which cells types to become (cartilage, bone, connective tissue, etc.) We believe this will only be achieved by integrating information into a computer model, and to this end we are developing new imaging and computational methods to understand one example of organogenesis - vertebrate limb development. We combine various systems biology approaches to integrate data on cell activities and gene networks into a realistic 4D computer simulation of the process. This is a truly interdisciplinary endeavour, and the lab is therefore composed of physicists, engineers and computer scientists as well as biologists.

Selected publications

- Sharpe J 2017, 'Computer modeling in developmental biology: growing today, essential tomorrow', Development, 144, 23, 4214 - 4225.

- Abe J, Germann P, Ripoll J, Sharpe J & Stein JV 2017, 'Non-linear scaling of CD8(+) T cell responses by bystander DCs', Cytokine, 100, 48 - 48.

- Jimenez A, Cotterell J, Munteanu A & Sharpe J 2017, 'A spectrum of modularity in multi-functional gene circuits', Molecular Systems Biology, 13, 4, 925.

Selected research activities

In addition to speaking at many invited events (in London, EPFL, Edinburgh, Cambridge, Utecht, Dresden, Kansas City) including a Keynote Lecture at the 2017 European Conference on Computational Biology (ECCB), the year was dominated by two major events for my scientific career. Firstly, I spent 3 months on sabbatical at MIT, Boston, as a Distinguished Visiting Scholar, hosted by the lab of Prof. Roger Kamm in the Department of Biological Engineering. This was a very productive period, interacting with many groups from the EBICS program (Emergent Behaviour in Integrated Cellular Systems), writing scientific papers, and learning about how various engineering perspectives can be brought into tissue biology. Secondly, I was appointed as Head of EMBL’s new research unit in Barcelona. This is a great honor, and has dominated the latter part of the year’s activities.