Universiteit Leiden

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Institute of Biology Leiden

Development & Disease

Development & Disease is one of the four research themes of the Institute of Biology Leiden.

Living systems scale from unicellular microbes to complex multispecies communities that constantly change over time. Within the theme Development & Disease, we enhance our fundamental understanding of development and homeostasis of living cells and systems. We analyze the normal situation and how stresses can challenge development and homeostasis, leading either to adaptive alterations or to disease and death. We harness this knowledge to improve the health of living systems worldwide.


We study the impact of environmental changes on the growth, development and functionality of living systems. 

Primary research topics within the research theme are:

  • Mechanisms of development and adaptation to stress in plants, animals, and microorganisms
  • Regulation of development and stress adaptation
  • The engineering of stress-resilient crops
  • Innate and adaptive defense mechanisms to infectious disease
  • Mechanisms of inflammation and anti-inflammatory drugs
  • Cellular tumor biology and angiogenesis
  • In vivo, in vitro and in silico modeling of morphogenesis
  • Emergence and benefits of multicellular cooperation
  • Functional and genetic diversity in multicellular systems

Keywords: Crop plants, zebrafish, actinomycetes, signaling, genetics, molecular cell biology, hormones, homeostasis, multiscale mathematical modeling, systems biology, immunity, tumor biology, tuberculosis


The IBL is organised in three multidisciplinary clusters: Animal Sciences, Plant Sciences and Microbial Sciences. Each cluster brings its qualities to the research theme Development & Disease to improve research and to strengthen the collaborations within and outside the institute. See for more information on the clusters' contribution to Development & Disease:


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