TU Dresden


Stem cells in pancreas regeneration

We are interested in understanding how extracellular signals and intrinsic genetic programs interact to dictate cell fate decisions in stem and progenitor cells. The main focus is the development of the endocrine lineage in the pancreas and the conversion of pluripotent stem cells into functional beta cells.

Previous and current research

We have modeled two processes of interest, the development of the pancreas endocrine lineage and the specification of a motor neuron population in the mammalian hindbrain using directed differentiation of mouse ES cells and inducible expression of selected transcription factors. 

We have shown that a single transcription factor, Hoxb1, can guide mouse ES cell derived neural cells into a narrow hindbrain identity. The same transcription factor acting in a different developmental context directs the conversion of neural cells into neural crest cells. more

Future projects and goals

The overall aim is the application of the elucidated developmental mechanisms for the efficient conversion of human pluripotent stem cells into functional specialized cell types for disease modeling and possible cell therapies. A cell type of particular interest is the pancreatic beta cell. We will be using human ES differentiation to beta cells as a model system to understand development of the human endocrine pancreas and the genetic origins of beta cell dysfunction. Additionally, we are pursuing the identification of the pancreas adult stem/progenitor cell population because this may provide the means to harness the regenerative potential of the pancreas and supply an alternative beta cell source. 

Group leader

Selected publications

M. Gouti, J. Briscoe and A. Gavalas. Anterior Hox genes interact with components of the neural crest specification network to induce neural crest fates (2011). Stem Cells, 29, 858-70.

 I. Serafimidis, S. Heximer, D. Beis and A. Gavalas. GPCR signaling and S1P play a phylogenetically conserved role in endocrine pancreas morphogenesis (2011). Mol. Cell. Biol. 31, (5702-11).

M. Ioannou, I. Serafimidis, L. Sussel, L. Arnes, Singh S., V. Vasiliou and A. Gavalas. ALDH1B1 is a potential stem / progenitor marker for multiple pancreas progenitor pools (2013). Dev. Biol. 374, (153-63). 

V. Anastasiou, E. Ninou, D. Alexopoulou, M. Gouti, A. Müller, A. Dahl, M. Solimena, I. Serafimidis and A. Gavalas. Aldehyde dehydrogenase activity regulates β cell specification and functionality (2016). Diabetologia, 59, (139-50).

I. Serafimidis, E. Rodriguez-Aznar, M. Lesche, K. Yoshioka, Y. Takuwa, A. Dahl, D. Pan and A. Gavalas. Pancreas lineage allocation and specification are regulated by sphingosine-1-phosphate signalling (2017). PLOS Biology, 15 (e2000949).


Group Leader

Anthony Gavalas
Phone: +49 (0)351 458 82002


Lab Manager

Eva Rodriguez
Phone: +49 (0)351 458 82031

Lab Activities


  • TU Dresden DIGS-BB Ph.D. Program
  • TU Dresden M.Sc. Program in Regenerative Biology and Medicine
  • Democritus University Medical School M.Sc. Program in Translational Research 



  • Ioannis Serafimidis, a recent alumnus of the lab is a Group Leader at the IMBB-FORTH, Greece as of Fall 2017
  • Mina Gouti, the first Ph.D. alumnus of the lab, is a Group Leader in the Max Delbrück Center for Molecular Medicine as of Spring 2016.


  • Germany Ministry for Education and Research (BMBF) / Helmholtz Centre Munich
  • German Research Foundation (DFG) SFB 655
  • DFG-Centre for Regenerative Therapies Dresden