Prof Uri Frank
Professor in Biochemistry
Wellcome & SFI Investigator and EMBO Member
Frank Lab Website

Research interests

  • Developmental Biology
  • Stem Cells & Cellular Potency
  • Tissue Regeneration

Research overview

We study how cells make decisions during development and regeneration using molecular genetics, genomics, imaging, and functional studies. For our research, we use the cnidarian Hydractinia as a model system. This animal has quite unique biological features and can be manipulated with relative ease. 

Hydractinia is a clonal and colonial animal. Embryos develop within three days into a swimming larva called planula. Upon metamorphosis, which takes 24 hours, they transform into the adult form called a polyp.

Polyps are sessile (we grow them on microscope glass slides). Upon metamorphosis, they start making genetic copies of themselves by asexual budding, forming a colony of genetically identical individuals (i.e. a clone).

Hydractinia possesses adult stem cells, known as i-cells. These cells are thought to contribute to all somatic lineages of the animal and to germ cells. i-cells are a major focus of our work.

The neural network of an adult Hydractinia polyp. RFamide stained in green.

We study how they make different cell types like neurons and gametes. i-cells can migrate in the tissues and are recruited to major injury sites where they contribute to regeneration.


Stem Cells, Niche, Signalling, Differentiation, Dedifferentiation, Pluripotency, iCells, Hydractinia, Gene Map, Transcription Factors, Regeneration.

Lab Members

  • Dr Camille Curantz (PD)
  • Dr Yasmine Lund-Ricard (PD)
  • Rowan Mac Gabhann (PhD)
  • Paris Weavers (PhD)
  • Cian Lawless (RA)

Key Research techniques

  • Tissue Preparation
  • Fluorescence Microscopy
  • Bioinformatics

Selected publications

Most Recent Publications

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