About the National University of Singapore

About NUSA leading global university centred in Asia, NUS is Singapore's flagship university, offering a global approach to education and research with a focus on Asian perspectives and expertise.

About the Mechanobiology Institute, National University of Singapore

About MBIOne of four Research Centres of Excellence at NUS, MBI is working to identify, measure and describe how the forces for motility and morphogenesis are expressed at the molecular, cellular and tissue level.
Timothy Saunders 2017-05-03T10:36:48+00:00
Michael SHEETZ


Assistant Professor, Mechanobiology Institute, National University of Singapore

+65 6601 1552 ext 11552
Level 9 T-Lab
National University of Singapore
5A Engineering Drive 1
Singapore 117411

Curriculum Vitae

Laboratory website
Mechanics of Development Lab (MoD)

Research Program
Mechanotransduction in Tissues Group

Assistant Professor, Department of Biological Sciences, National University of Singapore

Recent Research

From the Bottom Up

Basal protrusions stimulate rosette formation during cell intercalation

By | Apr 20th, 2017|Categories: Amourda C Research, Featured Research, Hara Research, Saunders Lab, Science Features, Shagirov M Research, Toyama Lab, Zijun S Research|Comments Off on From the Bottom Up

Timothy Saunders

Principal Investigator

Research Areas

The lab focuses on the application of biophysics and live imaging to better understand how organisms reliably develop (i.e. how is development so robust?). We use Drosophila and fission yeast as model organisms to explore robustness in decision-making.  We apply a broad approach to problems, combining live imaging, advanced image analysis and mathematical modeling.

Research Interests

Signaling gradients

Position can be defined by the use of spatially extended gradients of signaling molecules. Since biological processes are inherently noisy, these gradients require mechanisms to ensure that they are precisely interpreted.  We examine how the mechanisms of gradient formation affect the robustness of the downstream signaling.  We are also probing how morphogens can be reliably interpreted prior to obtaining their steady-state profile.

Temporal variations in development

A developing organism needs to regulate the onset of different process temporally as well as spatially.  We explore temporal variability in different processes during development. We use lightsheet microscopy to examine single cells while also keeping a global view of the embryo.  Such technology also has low photobleaching, allowing visualisation of development over many hours.


Even between closely related animals there can be considerable variation in body size.  Yet, for example, organs are typically positioned in the correct relative position for each specimen.  Using lightsheet microscopy, we explore Drosophila embryogenesis to examine when and how such scaling decisions are made.



We use state-of-the-art lightsheet microscopy. This enables us to image entire developing organisms in toto while also having sufficient spatial and temporal resolution to probe single cell behavior.

Image analysis

The lab produces large amounts of quantitative data. We develop sophisticated methodologies to handle terabytes of data and extract the biological relevant information.


Mathematical modeling is used to make predictions about system behavior.  Methods used include reaction-diffusion equations and Gillespie stochastic simulations.  We are also interested in exploring how gene regulatory networks ensure robust decision-making.


2010 – 2013 EIPOD Fellow in the groups of Dr Lars Hufnagel and Dr Eileen Furlong at EMBL-Heidelberg, Germany

2007 – 2010 Postdoctoral researcher in the group of Professor Martin Howard at John Innes Centre, Norwich, UK

2007 PhD (Theoretical physics) University of Oxford

2004 MPhys 1st class, Cambridge University

2003 BA 1st class, Cambridge University

Recent Publications

  1. Saunders TE. Imag(in)ing growth and form. Mech. Dev. 2017;. [PMID: 28351699]
  2. Sun Z, Amourda C, Shagirov M, Hara Y, Saunders TE, and Toyama Y. Basolateral protrusion and apical contraction cooperatively drive Drosophila germ-band extension. Nat. Cell Biol. 2017;. [PMID: 28346438]
  3. Amourda C, and Saunders TE. Gene expression boundary scaling and organ size regulation in the Drosophila embryo. Dev. Growth Differ. 2017;. [PMID: 28093727]
  4. Singh AP, Galland R, Finch-Edmondson ML, Grenci G, Sibarita J, Studer V, Viasnoff V, and Saunders TE. 3D Protein Dynamics in the Cell Nucleus. Biophys. J. 2017; 112(1):133-142. [PMID: 28076804]
  5. Krieger JW, Singh AP, Bag N, Garbe CS, Saunders TE, Langowski J, and Wohland T. Imaging fluorescence (cross-) correlation spectroscopy in live cells and organisms. Nat Protoc 2015; 10(12):1948-74. [PMID: 26540588]
  6. Richards DM, and Saunders TE. Spatiotemporal analysis of different mechanisms for interpreting morphogen gradients. Biophys. J. 2015; 108(8):2061-73. [PMID: 25902445]
  7. Saunders TE. Aggregation-fragmentation model of robust concentration gradient formation. Phys Rev E Stat Nonlin Soft Matter Phys 2015; 91(2):022704. [PMID: 25768528]

Lab Members

Vaishali Yadav

May 24th, 2017|Comments Off on Vaishali Yadav

PhD Student, Saunders Group

Anand Pratap Singh

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Research Fellow, Saunders Group

Christopher Preveen Amourda

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Research Fellow, Saunders Group

Sham Leilah Tlili

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Research Fellow, Saunders Group

Chong Wen Hui Jeronica

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Research Assistant, Saunders Group

Kerh Yun Yi

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Research Assistant, Saunders Group

Huang Anqi

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PhD Student, Saunders Group

Yin Jianmin

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PhD Student, Saunders Lab

Zhang Shao Bo

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PhD Student, Saunders Lab