Université de Strasbourg

Daniel Riveline


Daniel Riveline

Daniel Riveline is a research director at the French National Centre for Scientific Research (CNRS) and group leader at the Institute of Genetics and Molecular and Cellular Biology (IGBMC) of the University of Strasbourg.

Dr. Riveline is an experimental biophysicist who probes self-organisation phenomena in living matter using physics and quantitative biology. He and his team revealed the mechanosensing of focal contacts and cell-cell contacts, or how cellular adhesive contacts reinforce themselves when cells apply local forces. These results have opened new routes to study the interplay between cytoskeleton mechanics and its Rho GTPase regulation. He also reported a new type of cell migration, ratchetaxis or directed cell motion in the absence of long-range chemical gradients, with a potential impact on understanding cell motion during development and in cancer.

After receiving his PhD in physics in 1997 from the Institut Curie in Paris (France), Daniel Riveline took up a post-doctoral position in biology at the Weizmann Institute of Science (Israel). In 1999, he started his group at the University of Grenoble (France) where he established mechanosensing of contacts with the extracellular matrix and between cells. In 2010, after a sabbatical in biology at Rockefeller University (United States) where he managed to inject fission yeast for the first time and to characterize cytokinesis ring closure, he relocated to the University of Strasbourg to establish a group in cell physics at the Institute of Supramolecular Science and Engineering (ISIS). He then moved to IGBMC in 2015, where he continues his research activities on self-organisation in living matter.

Daniel Riveline coordinates an international network on self-organisation of organoids (CNRS IRP-LIA and Human Frontier Science Program grant coordinator). He also created, in 2015, a new master programme in cell physics at the University of Strasbourg to train students in research on subjects at the interface between disciplines with other scientific departments of the university. 

Photo - C.Schröder/Unistra

Fellowship 2023

Dates - 01/10/2023-30/09/2025

Project summary


Organoids are 3D culture systems initiated from stem or progenitor cells. They reproduce in vitro organs found in vivo with remarkable precision. As such, they represent outstanding systems for the perspectives they open for basic science and for biomedical applications in the synthetic preparation of grafts for example. However, their controlled growth is a major problem. Their protocols are empirical and lack reproducibility, largely because self-organisation rules are poorly understood. Organoids vary in shapes and in their distributions of cell states and functions.

In this context, the cytoskeleton plays a key role. While we understand how cortical forces emerge out of collective acto-myosin interactions, it is still unclear how cells control acto-myosin activity in space and time, in cells and in organoids. In addition, these generated forces are associated with changes in cell compositions and states, ranging from stem cell state to differentiation state through exit from pluripotency. The aim of this project is to reveal cortical organisation during lumen formation and show how this organisation is related to changes in cell states. Three cellular systems will be compared – (differentiated) MDCK cysts, neural tubes with Mouse Embryonic Stem (mES) cells and pancreas organoids from mice. We will use our complementary expertise in microfabrication, active matter theory, super-resolution microscopy, 3D cell culture and stem cell biology to study the opening and interactions of lumens in these epithelial cells with unprecedented resolution.

This project will allow to link active gel self-organisation to differentiations and functions during tissue formation with insights in developmental biology. If confirmed, these relations could lead to the identification of generic mechanisms that are conserved between organoids and organs. This research could open new avenues in the preparation of organoids of any types. In addition, it will unravel new relations between physical properties of active matter and cell state biology, a field that is largely unexplored. Finally, theoretical physics will benefit from the quantitative characterisations of these coupling relations between active gels and cell states to be able to more reliably model organs. In summary, this project could lead to a novel understanding of the general rules that govern organoids’ self-organisation, and their transfer to medicine.

France 2030