Denna sida på svenska This page in English

Exploring the rise of multicellularity on Earth and in the human body

Principle investigator Emma Hammarlund


We investigate the paradox of cell stemness at oxic conditions to answer what it takes for multicellularity to form – whether animal multicellularity on Earth or tumor multicellularity within the human body.


The overall objective of our research is to advance our understanding of what it takes for multicellularity to form. We use insights from tumor and stem cell biology to investigate the rise of complex multicellular life through the perspective of tissue architecture. We also let the evolutionary history of multicellular life influence how we investigate the rise of tissues – transformed or normal.

Animals, plants, and fungi are the only three versions of complex multicellular life that have ever diversified on Earth. We do not yet understand what allowed their diversification to happen, and this question has tantalized researchers in several fields for ages. The question has been investigated by probing the geological record, the early development of modern organisms, and the evolution of genes. Now, we also utilize tumor and stem cell biology to address the conundrum, since these fields decipher what is needed for tissue to arise and be sustained. Stem cell biology, in addition, truly contributes with a key perspective on oxygen, where hypoxic conditions or cellular hypoxia-response machineries appear central for maintaining cell stemness and tissue renewal. That animals have solved to harness hypoxia-driven tissue renewal for a life in oxic environments, we claim, is a yet under-appreciated paradox. We hope you may help us look closer at this paradox, such that we can better understand the evolutionary roots of human health and disease.

We now offer a postdoctoral position to join our team working on stemness control at oxic conditions in animal tissues, transformed and non-transformed. The work will involve characterizing the pseudohypoxic phenotype in both normal and transformed tissues with adult stem cell pools. It will also involve understanding whether HIF-2a facilitates the pseudohypoxic phenotype in these stem cell pools or not. We work closely to the Stem Cell Center, the Translational Cancer Research, and the Department of Biology.


Key requirements:

  • PhD in stem cell biology, pathology, cancer biology, evolutionary biology or related subject area.
  • A strong publication record with >2 peer reviewed publications in reputable journals.
  • Curiosity driven.
  • Demonstrably able to independently design, manage, optimize, and present the results of investigations.
  • Excellent learning and communication skills across scientific, cultural, and personal differences.


Advantageous skills:

  • Experience with immunohistochemistry.
  • Proven track record in winning at least one scientific grant award from a national or international funding agency.
  • An interest in evolution.


Group website: Molecular Evolution | Translational Cancer Research

Partners: Division of Laboratory Medicine and Lund Stem Cell Center.