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The Liverpool Development & Stem Cell Lab

Taking quantitative approaches to understand cell-decision making during early development

We use mouse embryonic stem cells (mESCs) to study cell fate decisions in both 2D monolayer, and 3D Gastruloid culture. Gastruloids are aggregates of mESCs generated in non-adherent culture, which are able to effectively recapitulate many of the processes of early mammalian development such as symmetry-breaking, polarisation, gastrulation-like movements and the development of the three embryonic axes. 

Our Research


Cell signalling dynamics and cell fate

Studying how signals alter the dynamics of proteins in individual embryonic stem cells to modulate pluripotency and the decision to differentiate


Gastruloids & axial pattering

Using gastruloids as a model system to understand how the cells of the embryo integrate chemical and physical inputs to specify cell fate, axial patterning, and tissue morphogenesis


3Rs approaches to drug screening and disease modelling

Replacing animal models by developing 3D in vitro approaches to assess drug safety during pregnancy, and model pathogen transfer across the foetal/maternal interface


It's critical that science is reproducible, not just in our lab, but elsewhere. To help with this, we've compiled a list of the standard protocols, reagents, validated antibodies, and tools that we use

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Gastruloid Protocols

Standard protocols for mESC culture, gastruloid protocols, and reagents


Validated Antibodies

To save you the trouble of testing antibodies that won't work, we've compiled a list of the ones we regularly use that work



Useful code for gastruloid analysis, single cell tracking, graphing


Our work is firmly embedded in the 3Rs (Reduction Refinement Replacement of animals in research), utilising and developing novel in vitro model systems and protocols that allow us, and the field, to study early developmental patterning processes without using animal models.

Our NC3Rs funded projects
  • Using Gastruloids to study Left-Right Asymmetry (NC/P001467/1)

  • Assessing drug toxicity on the mammalian embryo with Gastruloids (NC/T002131/1)


Our collaborative NC3Rs projects
  • Optimising human stem cell models to decipher signals and responses during organogenesis (Joint BBSRC/NC3Rs; NC/X001938/1); Led by Jenny Nichols (Edinburgh) with CoI Cathy Merry (Nottingham)

  • A 3Rs approach to investigate the feto-maternal interface (NC/V001566/1); led by Aras Kadioglu and Marie Yang, Liverpool

  • Exploring the role of matrix encapsulation on early developmental decisions using non-animal sourced hydrogels (NC/W001918/1); led by Cathy Merry, Nottingham


Our Funders



William Henry Duncan Building, 6 West Derby Street


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