Gines Morata

Spanish National Research Council (CSIC)


Election Year: 2018
Primary Section: 22, Cellular and Developmental Biology
Secondary Section: 26, Genetics
Membership Type: Foreign Associate

Biosketch

Ginés Morata is a developmental biologist recognized for his work on developmental processes of the fruitfly Drosophila. He is well known for his studies on the genetic basis of compartments, the structure of the Hox genes and the discovery of cell competition, a major homeostatic mechanism to remove unwanted cells from animal tissues. Morata was born in a small village (Rioja) in the southeast of Spain and graduated in the Universidad Complutense of Madrid, where he also obtained his PhD in 1973, already working with Drosophila. He spent several years as postdoctoral fellow at the Laboratory of Molecular Biology in Cambridge (UK) before returning to Spain in 1977 to join the Centro de Biología Molecular in Madrid. He is a Foreign Member of the Royal Society of London and of the US National Academy of Sciences

Research Interests

The Morata’s laboratory is presently involved in two major research lines, the study of the regeneration processes in the imaginal discs of Drosophila, and the analysis of the cell competition phenomenon in relation with apoptosis and tumorigenesis. Regeneration is a classical issue in Developmental Biology, which can be addressed nowadays with new and powerful genetic and molecular methods.  In the Morata group they have found that cells involved in regeneration of a damaged tissue undergo a reprogramming process aimed to acquire the identity of the lost cells. They have identified several of the factors implicated in the process. Their work on cell competition has shown that it functions as a tumor-suppressing mechanism by eliminating by apoptosis oncogenic cells that may appear during development. They have also found that oncogenic cells can somtimes evade cell competition by a “group protection” mechanism by which cells inside the group are beyond the reach of cell competition.

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