Ruprecht-Karls-Universität Heidelberg
COS Heidelberg Banner

Dr. Sergio P. Acebrón

Dr. Sergio P. Acebrón
Dr. Sergio P. Acebrón
Im Neuenheimer Feld 230
69120 Heidelberg
Fon 06221 54-5257
Fax 06221-545678
sergio.acebron AET

Our research focuses on how somatic and stem cells integrate extracellular signals to modulate their fate

The architecture, homeostasis and function of the organs is defined at the cellular level by the integration of a myriad of molecular signals. In our lab, we study how stem cells, progenitor cells, and somatic cells integrate extracellular signals and how these cascades define celfate. We focus on unravelling the molecular mechanisms underlying signal transduction, specially in ther context of the Wnt signalling pathway and mitosis. To address these questions we integrate cutting edge imaging and genome editing with detailed molecular analyses in mouse models, ex vivo cultured neural progenitor cells, organoids, as well as cell lines. 

More information in our group page.

Figure 1: We analyse cell signalling in vivo by studying mouse models (upper left); and in vitro by using cultured somatic cells (upper middle) and cell extracts (upper right). We complement our studies with ex vivo models such as intestinal organoids (lower left); embryonic stem cells (colony; lower middle), and neural progenitor cells (neurosphere; lower right).

Lab topics:

Cell signalling & mitosis

A fundamental open question in cell biology, development, and physiology is how cells are guided through mitosis to place specific daughter cells at defined positions. During the complex voyage of building tissues, cells integrate intrinsic factors, as well as extrinsic cues from their niches to modulate the progression, symmetry, orientation, and fate of their divisions. Misregulation of these processes is associated with loss of the cellular hierarchies and can ultimately lead to disease, notably cancer. We aim to unravel how different signalling pathways shape the cell fate during development and tissue renewal by modulating cell division.

Stem cell & cancer biology

The fate of adult stem cells is determined by the integration of extracellular signals released from their niches. For example, Wnt ligands are essential for stem cell maintenance and tissue homeostasis across many organs. We study the transduction of Wnt signals, notably in mammalian adult stem cells of the adrenal gland and the gut. We aim to identify and characterise signalling components, interactions and modifications that play key roles in stem cell renewal, and whose misregulation can lead to cancer.

Signal transduction & crosstalk

The extracellular signalling pathways are notorious for their cross talk, but it is still not well understood how stem and progenitor cells integrate different extracellular signals from a multi-signalling niche to modulate their fate and behaviour. We aim to characterise the fundamental molecular hubs where these signals converge.

Open positions:

Postdoctoral Positions in synthetic biology and cell biology

The Heidelberg molecular life sciences (HMLS) is a cross-institutional platform that includes the Heidelberg University, the EMBL, the Max Planck Institute for Medical Research, and the German Cancer Research Center (DKFZ). Within the framework of the University’s flagship initiative on molecular engineering, we are seeking:

Postdoctoral fellows in synthetic biology and cell biology  

About the team: The selected candidates will join a collaborative project led by Sergio P. Acebrón (Heidelberg University), Gislene Pereira (Heidelberg University/DKFZ), Jan Ellenberg (EMBL), Rainer Pepperkok (EMBL), and Anna Marciniak-Czochra (Bioquant/IWR). Our work employs different biological models, technology platforms and mathematical tools to better understand cell signal transduction, cell division, and fate determination.

About the project: The project Synthetic DNA memories aims to develop novel molecular tools to record complex and transient cellular events into permanent and readable genetic memories. To drive this new collaborative project, we are looking for one postdoctoral fellow in the area of synthetic biology, and one in the area of cell biology. As a successful candidate, you will engage in one or several of the following areas:

·     Design of synthetic biological circuits in yeast or mammalian cell culture

·     Development of DNA-based memory devices controlled by recombinases and Cas endonucleases

·     Characterisation of these tools in signal transduction and mitotic progression

·     Development of scalable and robust analyses by single-cell sequencing, imaging or cytometry. 

·     Adaptation of these molecular devices to different biological questions and scales, from cells to organisms. 

You have: A PhD or equivalent qualification in synthetic biology or molecular/cell biology. Experience with genome manipulation techniques (e.g. Cas9, Cas1-2). You are excited about designing and developing novel techniques. You enjoy interdisciplinary research, and you are capable of building and maintaining collaborations with team members working on different disciplines. Excellent communication skills in English.

You might have: Experience in mitosis, cell signalling, imaging or high-throughput analyses. 

How to Apply: Interested applicants should send an email to containing a pdf with 1) a cover letter that describes their motivation to pursue this position and summarizes past research accomplishments, 2) CV, including publications, and 3) contact information for two references.

Application deadline: 18 January 2020

About the position: The positions are initially funded for a period of 2 years (TV-L, 100% E13), with possibility of extension. The positions will be initially hosted at the Acebrón group at the Centre for Organismal Studies (COS, Heidelberg University). The researchers will have a close collaboration with the other groups of the team at the EMBL, COS and Bioquant to further develop the project.

The Heidelberg University is committed to increase the percentage of female scientists and encourages female applicants to apply. Among candidates of equal aptitude and qualifications, a person with disabilities will be given preference.

Postdoc positions

If you are interested in doing a Postdoc in the lab, please contact Sergio directly to discuss your project ideas and opportunities.  Please provide a CV and a letter of recommendation (or the contact information of a referee).


PhD and MSc positions

We are looking for highly motivated students with a background in molecular cell biology, or similar. Please note that all PhD students will be integrated into the HBIGS graduate school at Heidelberg University. Please contact Sergio for inquiries for open PhD positions in the lab, as well as lab rotations for M.Sc. students.

We have an open position for a Master thesis.  If you are interested, please send a CV and brief letter of motivation to Sergio Acebron ( Provide a letter of recommendation, or the contact information of a referee.We have an open position for a Master thesis.  If you are interested, please send a CV and brief letter of motivation to Sergio Acebron ( Please provide a letter of recommendation, or the contact information of a referee. 

Please contact Sergio for inquiries for open positions in the lab, as well as lab rotations.

More information in our group page.




/var/www/cos/ / Dr. Sergio P. Acebrón _e