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An interview with Marian Ros

Marian Ros

Marian Ros is Full Professor and Chair of the Department of Molecular & Cellular 
Signaling at the Instituto de Biomedicina y Biotecnología de Cantabria. She received her M.D. and PhD degrees from the University of Cantabria. After a stay at the University of Wisconsin-Madison in the laboratory of John Fallon studying the role of Msx and Hox genes in limb development, she established her own research group dedicated to understanding the molecular basis of morphogenesis: how the formation of a particular form or structure is genetically and molecularly controlled during vertebrate development. Using the limb as a model system, Marian Ros lab has contributed to the understanding of the mechanisms contributing to shaping an organ, always with a translational interest towards disease, repair, and regeneration. Marian has always combined research with education teaching Human Anatomy and Embryology, Neuroanatomy, and Developmental Biology to undergraduate and graduate students. Prof. Ros is member of the Royal Academy of Medicine of Cantabria and the awardee of the 2013 Prize of Investigation Consejo Social de la Universidad de Cantabria. 


  1. What does developmental biology mean to you? 
    Developmental Biology is the search for understanding how an organism is formed, from a single cell to the whole organism. It is the study of how cells organize themselves in progressively more complex patterns to finally lead to the formation of the different tissues and organs, perfectly integrated in a totally functional organism. This study can be performed from very different levels and perspectives (genomic, genetic, molecular, cellular…), and provides relevant information to understand the source of evolutionary novelty.  The information that Developmental Biology provides may be considered basic but it has a huge translational interest towards understanding disease, repair, and regeneration. 

  2. What is it that you love about your work? 
    No matter how long I have been in the field, I am always fascinated by embryos and the dynamic changes and processes they go through. I love the excitement of discovering new aspects or understanding a little more of a question under study. I also love the interaction with the students, the discussion on how to solve a problem or devise the right experiment. I feel privileged that I could dedicate my professional life to this passion.  

  3. What are the big open questions in the field? 
    Many questions remain open in Developmental Biology. The answer to a question opens new avenues of thinking, new questions and perspectives. Lately, the introduction of the new genomic tools has generated an unprecedented amount of knowledge on how gene expression is regulated at single-cell level. However, we still know little about how these specific patterns of gene expression are translated into the final and highly reproducible shapes we see in living organisms. The intermediate period and how the cells keep the memory of their past history, still remain little understood. 

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