Sophie Morgani, PhD

Research Fellow - joint with Dr. Jenny Nichols at Cambridge University

Sophie Morgani, PhD

Research Fellow - joint with Dr. Jenny Nichols at Cambridge University

Sophie Morgani, PhD

Education & Training

2015–present: Sir Henry Wellcome Visiting Research Fellow, Developmental Biology Program, Sloan Kettering Institute (lab of Kat Hadjantonakis)

2009–2015: PhD degree in developmental biology, University of Edinburgh, UK and DanStem, University of Copenhagen (lab of Joshua Brickman)

2005–2009: BSc Hons degree in Biochemistry with Industrial Experience, University of Manchester, UK

Research interests

Development starts from a single unspecified cell that divides and differentiates to form all cell types of the adult. One of the most critical stages of development is when pluripotent embryonic cells start to specify the 3 germ layers (endoderm, mesoderm and ectoderm) and spatially arrange themselves to set up the future body plan – a process known as gastrulation. However, during the period that cells are making these decisions, the embryo implants into the uterus and is relatively inaccessible. Therefore, our knowledge of these events is mostly limited to static snapshots in time and we understand relatively little about the dynamic mechanisms controlling these processes.

I am therefore developing an in vitro system, using pluripotent stem cells, to model early lineage decisions and embryonic patterning. We will utilize this tool to analyze such events in real-time and in a quantitative manner to gain new insights into gastrulation-like events.


Aragón, E., Wang, Q., Zou, Y., Morgani, S.M.*, Ruiz, L., Kaczmarska, Z., Su, J., Torner, C., Tian, L., Hu, J., Shu, W., Agrawal, S., Márquez, J.A., Hadjantonakis, A.K., Macias, M.J., Massagué, J. (2019) Structural basis for distinct roles of SMAD2 and SMAD3 in FOXH1 pioneer-directed TGF-β signaling. Genes & Development. PMID: 31582430 PMCID: PMC6824466

Morgani, S.M., Saiz, N., Garg, V, Raina, D., Simon, C.S., Kang, M., Martinez Arias, A., Nichols, J., Schröter, C., Hadjantonakis, A.K. (2018) Sprouty4 reporter to monitor FGF/ERK signaling activity in ESCs and mice. Developmental Biology 1;441(1):104-126. PMID: 29964027 PMCID: PMC6455974

Morgani, S.M., Metzger, J.J., Nichols, J., Siggia, E.D., Hadjantonakis, A.K. (2018) Micropattern differentiation of mouse pluripotent stem cells recapitulates embryo regionalized cell fate patterning. Elife 7. PMID: 29412136 PMCID: PMC5807051

Nissen, S.B, Perera, M, Gonzalez, J.M, Morgani, S.M*, Jensen, M.H, Sneppen, K., Brickman, J.M, Trusina, A. (2017) Four simple rules that are sufficient to generate the mammalian blastocyst. PLoS Biology 15(7). PMID: 28700688 PMCID: PMC5507476

Morgani, S.M., Nichols, J., Hadjantonakis, A.K. (2017) The many faces of Pluripotency: in vitro adaptations of a continuum of in vivo states. BMC Developmental Biology 17(1), 7. PMID: 28610558 PMCID: PMC5470286

Garg, V., Morgani, S.M., Hadjantonakis, AK. (2016) Capturing identity and fate ex vivo: Stem cells from the mouse blastocyst. Mammalian Preimplantation Development. Current Topics in Developmental Biology. 120, 361-400. PMID: 27475857

Morgani, S.M., Brickman, J.M. (2014) The molecular underpinnings of totipotency. Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society of London. Series B, Biological sciences 369. PMID: 25349456 PMCID: PMC4216470

Morgani, S.M., Brickman, J.M. (2013) Survival of the fattest. Elife 2. 

Martin-Gonzalez, J.+, Morgani, S.M. +, Bone, R.A., Bonderup, K., Abelchian, S., Brakebush, C. and Brickman, J.M. (2016) Embryonic stem cell culture conditions support distinct states associated with different developmental stages and potency. Stem Cell Reports 7, 177-191. PMID: 27509134 PMCID: PMC4983099

Morgani, S.M., Brickman, J.M. (2015) LIF supports primitive endoderm expansion during pre-implantation development. Development 142, 3488-3499. PMID: 26395492

Morgani, S.M., Canham, M.A., Nichols, J., Sharov, A.A., Migueles, R.P., Ko, M.S., and Brickman, J.M. (2013). Totipotent embryonic stem cells arise in ground state culture conditions. Cell reports 3, 1945-1957. PMID: 23746443 PMCID: PMC3701323

+ Co-first authors

View a full listing of Sophie Morgani’s journal articles.