This project seeks to reorient theoretical perspectives about morphogenesis by articulating a conceptual framework, formulating mathematical models, and experimentally testing and improving the notion of biological autonomy. In particular, they eschew genetic programs and conceptualize developmental directionality in terms of an ongoing maintenance of functionality that can understand ontogenetic processes as realizing intrinsic purposiveness. A key output of this work will be new formal models that suggest novel experimental tests of embryonic change, stability, and variation in model organisms, including pathological dynamics such as cancer.
Agency and Directionality in Development
Intrinsic purposiveness and the shaping of development
Subaward Principal Investigator
ANA M. SOTO, M.D. (Professor, Tufts University School of Medicine, Boston, Foreign Correspondent Member Centre Cavaillès, Ecole Normale Supérieure, Paris and Fellow, Collegium Ramazzini, Carpi) is a theoretical and experimental biologist. Her research interests include the control of cell proliferation, normal and neoplastic development, and biological autonomy and organization. In partnership with Professor Carlos Sonnenschein, they posited that the default state of cells in all organisms is proliferation and proposed the Tissue Organization Field Theory of Carcinogenesis, in which cancer is viewed as development gone awry. As the Blaise Pascal Chair at the ENS (2013-5) she coordinated a multidisciplinary working group devoted to the elaboration of a theory of organisms. She is a recipient of several honors including the 2012 Gabbay Biotechnology & Medicine Award, Brandeis University and the Grand Vermeil Medal, the highest distinction from the City of Paris for her pioneering role in the discovery of endocrine disruptors.
Agency and Directionality in Development, (Re)Conceptualizing Function and Goal-Directedness, Higher-Level Agency and Directionality in Ecology and Earth Science
An organizational account of ecological functions, Intrinsic purposiveness and the shaping of development, Open-ended evolution and organizational closure
Maël Montévil is chargé de recherche in CNRS, in République des savoirs, USR 3608, École Normale Supérieure. He is a theoretical biologist working at the crossroad of experimental biology, mathematics, and philosophy. He developed the framework of constraints closure and theorized biological historicity and its implications for theory and modelization with which to study current issues such as endocrine disruptors and, more generally, anthropocene's disruptions and our response to them. Montévil is the author of more than twenty-five peer-reviewed articles and a monograph with Giuseppe Longo: Perspectives on organisms.
Agency and Directionality in Development, Evolutionary Origins and Transitions of Agency, Higher-Level Agency and Directionality in Ecology and Earth Science
An organizational account of ecological functions, Intrinsic purposiveness and the shaping of development, Integration and individuation in the origin of agency, Open-ended evolution and organizational closure
Matteo Mossio is Chargé de recherche (tenured) at the Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique (CNRS), full member of the IHPST (https://ihpst.pantheonsorbonne.fr/), Paris, France. Matteo Mossio works mainly in philosophical and theoretical issues related to biological autonomy. He published several articles in international philosophical and scientific journals as well as chapters in collective volumes. In 2015, he published (together with Alvaro Moreno) a full monograph on the theory of autonomy (https://www.springer.com/gp/book/9789401798365). Matteo Mossio obtained funding for and took part in numerous research projects in France and abroad. He attended or organised over 90 national and international seminars, workshops, symposia and summer schools, and served as a reviewer for many international philosophical and scientific journals. He supervised several PhD and Master students. He regularly teaches in the Philosophy Program of the University of Paris 1 Panthéon – Sorbonne.