Centre for Integrative Physiology

Prof Jamie Davies

One of my main research interests is to understand the morphogenesis of mammalian tissues.

Jamie Davies

Professor of Experimental Anatomy

  • Hugh Robson Building
  • room 333
  • 15 George Square

Edinburgh EH8 9XD

Personal profile

  • Fellow of the Society of Biology, Fellow of the Royal Society of Medicine, Fellow of the Higher Education Academy, Member of the Institute of Electrical and Electronic Engineers. Currently deputy Chairman of the National Centre for 3Rs
  • 1995-present: Lecturer, Senior Lecturer, Reader, and Professor, University of Edinburgh
  • 1991-1995: CRC Research Fellow, University of Manchester
  • 1989-1991: CRC Research Fellow, University of Southampton
  • 1983-1989: BA, MA and PhD at University of Cambridge


Prof Jamie Davies' research briefing

Prof Davies’ main research interest is in the development of biological form in foetal life, and how knowledge of this can be applied medically. There are three main aspects to this.

  • Developmental Biology, particularly of developing organs. This involves basic research into how populations of cells organize themselves, by internal and external signal, to generate complex anatomies from simple beginnings.
  • Tissue Engineering, especially a programme of research aiming to build a working kidney from stem cells. So far, starting from foetal mouse stem cells, our technique can produce very small, immature kidneys in culture that can nevertheless filter blood when transplanted into adult host animals. The eventual aim – still a long way off – is to produce working, transplantable kidneys from human stem cells.
  • Synthetic Biology: both in order to test current theories of tissue development and to extent the scope of tissue engineering, we are using synthetic biological techniques to program cells to generate designed (non-natural) patterns and forms, driven by artificial genetic modules. We call this approach ‘synthetic morphology’.

The lab specializes in using approaches that minimize animal use, and Davies has recently published a book to spread knowledge of these techniques.

In addition, the lab hosts the editorial office of the GUDMAP database of gene expression in urogenital development - www.gudmap.org


Kidney grown in culture

Additional information on the Davies Lab


  • Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council (BBSRC)
  • EU Framework VII
  • Leverhulme Trust
  • Medical Research Council (MRC)
  • National Centre for the Replacement, Refinement and Reduction of Animals in Research (NC3Rs)
  • Wellcome Trust

Team members

  • Jane Armstrong (Postdoctoral Fellow)
  • Jane Brennan (Postdoctoral Fellow)
  • Elise Cachat (Postdoctoral Fellow)
  • Roland Partridge (PhD student)
  • C-Hong Chang (PhD student)
  • Weijia Liu (Research Associate)
  • Sue Lloyd-MacGilp (Database Editor)
  • Kim Martin (PhD student)
  • Melanie Lawrence (Postdoctoral Fellow)
  • Frances Lai Kwun Wong (nGUDMAP Biocurator)



Life Unfolding: How the human body created itself (2014: OUP).

Mechanisms of Morphogenesis; second edition (2013: Academic Press)

Tissue Regeneration - From basic Biology to clinical application (2012: InTech).

Replacing Animal Models: a practical guide to creating and using culture-based biomimetic alternatives (2012: Wiley-Blackwell).

Mechanisms of Morphogenesis; first edition (2005: Academic Press)

Branching Morphogenesis (2004: Springer)

Research papers (last 10 years)

Lindström NO, Lawrence ML, Burn SF, Johansson JA, Bakker ER, Ridgway RA, Chang CH, Karolak MJ, Oxburgh L, Headon DJ, Sansom OJ, Smits R, Davies JA, Hohenstein P. (2015) Integrated β-catenin, BMP, PTEN, and Notch signalling patterns the nephron. Elife. 4.

Lindstrom NO, Chang C-H, Valerius MT, Hohenstein P, Davies JA (2015) Node retraction during patterning of the urinary collecting duct system. J Anat. 226(1):13-21

Cachat E, Liu W, Hohenstein P, Davies JA. (2014) A library of mammalian effector modules for synthetic morphology. J Biol Eng.;8(1):26.

Davies JA, Hohenstein P, Chang C-H, Berry R (2014) A self-avoidance mechanism in patterning of the urinary collecting duct tree. BMC Dev Biol. 14(1):35. [Epub ahead of print]

Davies JA, Chang C-H, Lawrence ML, Mills CG, Mullins JJ (2014) Engineered kidneys: principles, progress and prospects. Adv. Regen Biol. (invited review, in press)

Davies JA (2014) The urinary system. Chapter for supplement to Kaufman's Atlas of Mouse Development. Elsevier/ Academic Press, in press.

Davies JA (2014) Engineered renal tissue as a potential platform for pharmacokinetic and nephrotoxicity testing. Drug Discovery Today 19: 725-729

Davies JA (2014) Epithelial branching: mechanisms of patterning and self- organization. Chapter for Moody S (Ed.) Principle of Developmental Genetics (2nd Edition).

Davies JA (2013) Disinherited daughters travel by tube. Dev Cell 27(3):245-6.

Davies JA (2013) Engineered renal tissue as a potential platform for pharmacokinetic and nephrotoxicity testing. Drug Discovery Today 19: 725-729.

Davies JA (2013) Poor Edward, a scientific afterword/analysis for Sara Maitland's story Seeing Double, in her book Moss Witch. Comma Press.

Lindström1 NO, Hohenstein P, Davies JA. (2013) Nephrons require Rho-kinase for proximal-distal polarity development. Scientific Reports 3:2692. doi: 10.1038/srep02692.

Davies JA & Chang C-H (2013) Engineering kidneys from simple cell suspensions: an exercise in self-organization. Paed Neprhol 29(4):519-24.

Davies JA (2013) Kidney Development. Encyc Life Sci article A23672

Cachat E, Martin KC, Davies JA (2013) Synthetic Biology Approaches for Regenerative Medicine. Article for Encyc Molec Biol Molec Med

Tai G, Davies JA (2013) FAK/Src signalling is important to renal collecting duct morphogenesis: discovery using a hierarchical screening technique. Biology Open 0, 1-8. doi 10.1242/bio.20133780

Chang C-H, Davies JA. (2012) An improved method of renal tissue engineering, by combining renal dissociation and re-aggregation with a low-volume culture technique, results in development of engineered kidneys complete with loops of Henle. Nephron: Experimental Nephrology. 121:e79-e85 (DOI: 10.1159/000345514)

Xinaris C, Benedetti V, Rizzo P, Abbate M, Corna D, Azzolini N, Unbekandt M, Davies JA, Morigi M, Benigni A, and G. Remuzzi G (2012) Engineering of nephrons that are vascularized and functional in vivo, from simple suspensions of embryonic precursor cells. JASN 23:1857-68

Partridge R, Conlisk N, Davies JA (2012) In-lab 3-dimensional printing: an inexpensive tool for experimentation and visualization for the field of organogenesis. Organogenesis 8(1):22-7.

Davies JA (Ed.) (2012) Tissue Regeneration InTech ISBN: 978-953-307-876-2

Woolf AS, Davies JA (2012) Development of the ureter. JASN 24:19-25

Cachat E & Davies JA (2012) Application of synthetic biology to regenerative medicine. J Bioeng Biomed Sci doi 2155-9538.S2-003

Kuzma-Kuzniarska M, Kenny S, Edgar D, Wilm B, Davies J A., Murray P (2012) Integration potential of mouse and human bone marrow-derived mesenchymal stem cells. Differentiation 83:128-37

Chi L, Skovorodkin I, Anthony S, Davies J and Seppo Vainio S (2012) The intrinsic program that controls mammalian kidney size is regulated by Cerberus. PloS ONE 2011;6(11):e27676.

Davies JA (2012) Replacing animal models: a practical guide to creating and using culture-based biomimetic alternatives (Ed. Davies JA) Wiley-Blackwell

Davies JA (2012) Potential advantages of using biomimetic alternatives. Chapter for Replacing animal models: a practical guide to creating and using culture-based biomimetic alternatives (Ed. Davies JA) Wiley-Blackwell

Tai G, Davies JA (2012) Immortalized cell lines as high-throughput alternative to animal experiments in screens for pathways that control renal development. Chapter for Replacing animal models: a practical guide to creating and using culture-based biomimetic alternatives (Ed. Davies JA) Wiley-Blackwell

Davies JA (2012) Culture of Foetal Kidney Chapter for Replacing animal models: a practical guide to creating and using culture-based biomimetic alternatives (Ed. Davies JA) Wiley-Blackwell

Davies JA, Little M, Aronow B, Armstrong J, Brennan J, Lloyd-MacGilp S, Armit C, Harding S, Piu X, Rochun Y, Haggarty B, Houghton D, Davidson D, Baldock R (2012) The GUDMAP database of mouse urogenital development. Methods Molec Biol 2012;886:185-201

Davies JA, Unbekandt (2012) RNA interference in renal development. Methods Molec Biol 886:295-303

Tai G, Hohenstein P, Davies JA (2012) Making immortalized cell lines from embryonic mouse kidney, to use as an alternative to in vivo experiments in renal research. Methods Molec Biol 886:165-71

Davies JA, Unbekandt M, Ineson J, Lusis M, Little M (2012) Dissociation of embryonic kidney followed by re-aggregation as a method for chimaeric analysis. Methods Molec Biol 2012;886:135-46

Davies JA (2011) Self-organization as a tool in mammalian tissue engineering. Chapter for Regenerative Medicine (Ed Winslet-Gendebien, S). 261-274. Intech. ISBN 978-953-307-838-0. http://www.intechopen.com/articles/show/title/self-organization-as-a-tool-in-mammalian-tissue-engineering

Essafi A, Webb A, Berry RL, Slight J, Burn SF, Spraggon L, Velecala V, Martinez-Estrada OM, Wiltshire JH, Roberts SGE, Davies JA, Hastie ND, Hohenstein P (2011) A Wt1-controlled chromatin switching mechanism underpins tissue-specific Wnt4 activation and repression. Dev Cell. 21:559-74

Harding, S.D., Armit, C., Armstrong, J., Brennan, J., Cheng Y, Haggarty B, Houghton, D., Lloyd-MacGilp, S., Pi, X., Roochun Y, Sharghi, M., Tindal C, McMahon A, Goodison B, Little MH, Georgas K, Aronow B, Baldock RA, Davies JA, Davidson, D. (2011) The GUDMAP Database - An Online Resource for Genitourinary Research. Development 138: 2845-2853.

Burn SF, Webb A, Berry RL, Davies JA, Hastie ND, Hohenstein P (2011) Calcium/ NFAT signalling promotes early nephrogenesis. Dev Biol 352: 288-298

Ganeva V, Unbekandt M, Davies JA (2011) An improved kidney dissociation and re-aggregation culture system results in nephrons arranged organotypically around a single collecting duct system. Organogenesis 2011 Apr 1;7(2):83-7

Berry R, Harewood L, Pei L, Fisher M, Brownstein D, Ross A, Moss J, Hastie ND, Hohenstein P, Davies J, Evans RM, FitzPatrick DR (2011) Esrrg functions in early branch generation of the ureteric bud and is essential for normal development of the renal papilla. Human Molecular Genetics 20: 917-26.

Lee W-C, Hough M T, Liu W, Ekiert R, Lindstrom N O, Hohenstein P, Davies JA (2010) Dact2 is expressed in renal collecting ducts and controls morphogenetic behaviour of renal epithelial cells. Am J Physiol 299(4): F740-751.

Siegel N, Rosner M, Unbekandt M, Fuchs C, Slabina N, Dolznig H, Davies JA, Lubec G, Hengstschl‰ger M (2010) Contribution of human amniotic fluid stem cells to renal tissue formation depends on mTOR. Hum Molec Genet 19: 3320-31.

Sebinger DDR, Unbekandt U, Ganeva V, Ofenbauer A, Werner C & Davies JA (2010) A novel, low-volume method for organ culture of embryonic kidneys that allows development of cortico-medullary anatomical organization. PLoS One 5(5): e10550. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0010550

Davies JA (2010) The embryonic kidney: isolation, organ culture, immunostaining and RNA interference. Meth Molec Biol 633:57-69.

Unbekandt M, Davies JA (2010) Dissociation of embryonic kidneys followed by reaggregation allows the formation of renal tissues. Kidney International 77: 406-416

Davies, Jamie (2010) Synthetic morphology: modules for engineering biological form. Synthetic biology: parts and systems: Design, theory and applications. Nova Science Publishers

Davies JA (2009) Regulation, necessity, and the misinterpretation of knockouts. BioEssays 31:826-30

Davies JA (2009) Mammalian embryo: branching morphogenesis. Encyclopedia of Life Sciences Article A741

Davies JA (2009) The embryonic kidney: isolation, organ culture,immunostaining and RNA interference. Chapter in Mouse Cell Culture. Editor - Ward. A.† (Humana Press, ISBN 978-1588297723)

Unbekandt M & Davies JA (2009) Control of Organogenesis. Chapter in Fundamentals of Tissue Engineering and Regenerative Medicine (Springer).

Sweeney D, Lindstrˆm N, Davies JA (2008) Developmental plasticity and regenerative capacity† in the renal ureteric bud/collecting duct system. Development 135:2505-2510.

McMahon AP, Aronow B, Davidson D, Davies JA, Gaido K, Grimmond S, Lessard J, Little M, Potter S, Wilder E, Zhang P (2008) GUDMAP - the genito-urinary developmental molecular anatomy project.† J. Am Soc Nephrol 19: 667-671.

Davies JA (2008) Synthetic Morphology: prospects for engineered, self-constructing anatomies. J. Anat 212:707-19

Lee, WC, Berry, R, Hohenstein, P and Davies, JA (2008) siRNA as a tool for investigating organogenesis - the pitfalls and the promises. Organogenesis 4(3):176-81.

Davies J (2008) Cellular mechanisms of morphogenesis. Scholarpedia, 3(2):3615

Blenkiron M, Arvind DK, Davies JA (2007) Design of an irreversible DNA memory element. Natural Computing 6: 403-411

Davies JA (2007) Developmental biologists’ choice of subjects approximates to a power law, with no evidence for the existence of a special group of organisms’. BMC Dev Biol (2007) 7:40

Little M, Brennan J, Georgas K, Davies J, Davidson D, Beverdam A, Bertram, J, Capel B, Christiansen E, Cullen L, Fleming J, Gilbert T, Herzlinger D, Kaufman M, Kleymenova E, Koopman P, Kris W, Lewis A, McMahon A, Mendelsohn C, Mitchell E, Saunders P, Spencer T, Spears N, Sweeney D, Thomson A, Valerius T, Yamada G, Yu J.(2006). High-resolution anatomical ontologies of the developing murine genitourinary tract for the annotation of data from the Genitourinary Development Murine Atlas Project. MoD Gene Expr Patterns 7 :680-99

Davies JA (2007) Epithelial branching: the power of self loathing.BioEssays 29: 205-7

Murray P, Camussi G, Davies J, Egdar D, Hengstschlaeger M, Kenny M, Remuzzi G, Werner C. (2007) The KIDSTEM European Research Training NetworkOrganogenesis 3: 2-4

Michael L, Sweeney D,Davies JA(2007) The lectin, Dolichos biflorus agglutinin, is a sensitive indicator of branching morphogenetic activity in the developing mouse metanephric collecting duct system. J. Anat. 210: 89-97

Davies JA (2006) A method for cold storage and transport of viable kidney rudiments.Kidney International 70, 2031-2034.

Davies JA (2006)Branching Morphogenesis of Mammalian epithelia. Chapter in Principles of developmental genetics

Davies JA(2006) The embryonic kidney: isolation, organ culture, immunostaining and RNA interference. Chapter in Mouse Cell Culture Eds Ward A and Tosh D.

Lee WC and Davies JA (2006). Dapper1 and dapper2 are expressed in distinct parts of developing metanephroi. Nephrol Dial Transplant. 21(Suppl 4): 18-9

Davies JA (2006) Renal Structure and Function in Vertebrates (Hans Ditrich), book review. J. Anat 208, issue 3, start page 391

Davies JA, Armstrong J (2006) The anatomy of organogenesis: novel solutions to old problems.Progr. Histochem Cytochem

Willnow TE, Antignac C, Br‰ndli A, Christensen EI, Cox RD, Davidson D, Davies JA, Devuyst O, Eichele E, Hastie N, Verroust P, Schedl A, Meij IC(2005) The European Renal Genome Project - an integrated approach towards understanding the genetics of kidney development and disease. Organogenesis

Michael L, Sweeney DE, Davies JA(2005) A role for microfilament-based contraction in branching morphogenesis of the ureteric bud. Kidney International 68: 2010-2018

Davies JA (2005) Watching tubules glow and branch. Curr Op Genet Dev 15:364-370

Davies JA (2005)Mechanisms of Morphogenesis(Book). Elsevier

Davies J [Ed.] (2005) Branching Morphogenesis (Book). Landes/ Springer

Davies JA (2005) Branching morphogenesis in the mammalian kidney. In Davies JA (Ed) Branching Morphogenesis. Landes/ Springer

Davies JA (2004)† Inverse correlation between an organ’s cancer rate and its evolutionary antiquity." Organogenesis 1: 60-63

Michael L, Davies JA (2004) Pattern and regulation of cell proliferation during morphogenesis of the mouse ureteric bud. J. Anat 204: 241-255.

Davies JA, Ladomery M, Hohenstein P, Michael L, Spraggon L, Schafe A, Freeman T, Hastie N (2004) Development of an siRNA-based method for repressing specific genes in renal organ culture and its use to show that the Wt1 tumour suppressor is required for nephron differentiation.Hum Mol Genet13: 235-46

Jamie Davies publication list (PDF)