Denis Duboule's lab at the EPFL has started operating during 2007. Its major aim is to study principles of mammalian embryological development by using the recent tools of functional genomics. A special focus is given to those similarities and differences that exist between the embryological development of vertebrates (to whom mammals belong) and those of other animals (invertebrates), from whom vertebrates derive.
To achieve this task, they use the developing mouse embryo in vivo as an experimental system, and try and apply the methodology developed following the sequencing of complex genomes.
Their major, though not exclusive, target is the understanding of the regulation of a critical family of transcription factors during the construction of the animal body plan, referred to as architect genes (the Hoxgene family). These genes have a special interest in the study of both our ontogenesis (our development as individuals) and our phylogeny (our origin as a group of individuals) and the detailed understanding of their regulations and functions will be an important step in our understanding of our own histories.