Synthetic by design: Exploiting tissue self-organization to explore early human embryology

Edwin A. Rosado-Olivieri, Ali H. Brivanlou

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Recent advances in synthetic human embryology has provided a previously inexistent molecular portrait of human development. Models of synthetic human embryonic tissues capitalize on the self-organizing capabilities of human embryonic stem cells when they are cultured on biomimetic conditions that simulate in vivo human development. In this Review, we discuss these models and how they have shed light on the early stages of human development including amniotic sac development, gastrulation and neurulation. We discuss the mechanisms underlying the molecular logic of embryonic tissue self-organization that have been dissected using synthetic models of human embryology and explore future challenges in the field. Geared with technological advances in bioengineering, high resolution gene expression and imaging tools, these models are set to transform our understanding of the mechanistic basis of embryonic tissue self-organization during human development and how they may go awry in disease.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)16-21
Number of pages6
JournalDevelopmental Biology
StatePublished - Jun 2021


  • Gastrulation
  • Human stem cells
  • Neurulation
  • Synthetic embryology

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Molecular Biology
  • Developmental Biology
  • Cell Biology


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