Rivron: Synthetic development

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The Rivron group recreates embryonic development in a dish, from mammalian stem cells, to better understand the encoded principles of self-organization.

Stem cells are the seeds of the organism. During development, these powerful cells proliferate, generate specialized cells, and organize into sophistically patterned embryonic entities. These entities form via a range of local interactions that constrain the genetically-encoded program, and delineate the robustness and plasticity of mammalian development.

The Rivron lab uses stem cells to study the design principles of self-organization in the early mammalian conceptus.

Key publicationsView all publications

Blastocyst-like structures generated solely from stem cells.

Rivron NC*, Frias-Aldeguer J, Vrij EJ, Boisset JC, Korving J, Vivié J, Truckenmüller RK, van Oudenaarden A, van Blitterswijk CA†, Geijsen N†

Nature 557(7703):106-111


* corresponding author. † equal contribution.

3D high throughput screening and profiling of embryoid bodies in thermoformed microwell plates.

Vrij EJ, Espinoza S, Heilig M, Kolew A, Schneider M, van Blitterswijk CA, Truckenmüller RK, Rivron NC.

Lab Chip 16, 734-742


Tissue deformation spatially modulates VEGF signaling and angiogenesis.

Rivron NC, Vrij EJ, Rouwkema J, Le Gac S, van den Berg A, Truckenmüller RK, van Blitterswijk CA

PNAS 109 (18), 6886-6891


Sonic Hedgehog-activated engineered blood vessels enhance bone tissue formation.

Rivron NC, Raiss CC, Liu J, Nandakumar A, Sticht C, Gretz N, Truckenmüller R, Rouwkema J, van Blitterswijk CA

PNAS 109 (12) 4413-4418



Nicolas Rivron

Nicolas Rivron is a stem cell biologist and a tissue engineer. He leads the laboratory for synthetic mammalian development both at the Hubrecht Institute for developmental biology and stem cell research (Utrecht) and at the MERLN Institute for technology-driven regenerative medicine (Maastricht). His laboratory created the blastoid system, the first model of the pre-implantation conceptus generated solely from stem cells. His laboratory also develops platforms and technologies to systematically induce, modulate, and analyze self-organization in vitro.

Scientific training and positions


Nicolas Rivron

Group Leader

Javier Frias Aldeguer

PhD Student

Delia Koennig