Victor Hatini

Victor Hatini

(617) 636-3493
150 Harrison Ave
Research/Areas of Interest:

Research in my laboratory is directed toward understanding the mechanisms that control animal patterning and morphogenesis. Our recent studies focused on understanding how contractile and protrusive forces coordinate to control epithelial morphogenesis using the fly retina as a model system. We found that during retina morphogenesis cell contacts and apical cell perimeters repeatedly contract and expand. These pulsatile dynamics that occur over many hours are critical for proper morphogenesis. We identified important roles for the adhesion molecular Sidekick (Sdk) in coordinating this mechanical cycle by interacting interchangeably with cytoskeletal proteins that affect either contraction or expansion. Sidekick is the first known adhesion molecule found to localize specifically to the tricellular adherens junctions where three or more epithelial cells meet. The focus of our current studies is to determine how these specialized junctions form and operate during epithelial morphogenesis. Insights gained from our studies will be broadly applicable to the understanding of epithelial morphogenesis and diseases that involve the breakdowns of normal tissue organization.


  • Doctor of Philosophy, Cornell University, NY, USA, 1996
  • Master of Science, Weizmann Institute of Science, Rehovot, Israel, 1991
  • Bachelor of Science, Hebrew University, Jerusalem, Israel, 1989


I am interested in cell adhesion molecules and cytoskeletal networks that regulate epithelial morphogenesis. In more recent work, we discovered that the adhesion molecular Sidekick (Sdk) plays essential functions in epithelial morphogenesis by modulating both contractile actomyosin networks and protrusive branching actin networks to control epithelial rearrangements. Sidekick is the first known adhesion molecule that localizes specifically to tricellular adherens junctions where three epithelial cells meet. It provides us with an entry point to understand how these specialized junctions form and operate during epithelial morphogenesis.
I am passionate about training, mentoring, and fostering an inclusive and supportive scientific research environment. I have been involved in mentoring and training graduate and undergraduate students and postdoctoral fellows throughout my independent research career. Since I arrived at Tufts in 2004, I have been an active training faculty member in two graduate programs, the Cell, Molecular & Developmental Biology (CMDB) and the Genetics program. I have served on the CMDB Program Admission Committee, the CMDB Program Advisory Committee, and chaired the CMDB Curriculum Committee. I contribute extensively to graduate education and served as the Course Director of four core courses offered by the CMDB Program including Cell Behavior (ISP209B), Molecular Cell Biology of Development (ISP210B), Advanced Developmental Biology (ISP235), and Journal Club in Cell and Developmental Biology (CMBD295-102). I also teach in Cell and Molecular Genetics (ISP210A). For over 10 years, I taught Cell, Tissue, and Organ Biology (CTOB-II) to first-year medical, dental and MBS students. I have served on the thesis committee of 18 Tufts graduate students (4 present), and the mentoring committee of 2 TEARC post-doctoral fellows and chaired 9 qualifying examination committees. In total, 4 former graduate students and 5 postdocs who trained in my lab have gone to successful positions in academia, industry, and government. Likewise, a total of 5 technicians who worked in the lab have gone to successful careers in medicine. I am committed to providing my trainees with an environment that enhances their training in the theory and practice of cell and developmental biology to promote their development as independent researchers. While some of my trainees went on to pursue academic careers, others realized they were better suited to other professional paths such as biotech, medicine, teaching, and consulting. My goal has been to provide an experience that enriches these future endeavors no matter what they might be.
At the national level, I have served on NIH study sections dedicated to promoting the career development of predoctoral and doctoral students and postdoctoral fellows. This includes the NIH/NIGMS K99/R00 pathway to independent award in Cell and Developmental Biology (ZGM1 TWD – 8), and the Special Emphasis Panel for F30/F31/F32 Fellowships in Cell Biology, Developmental Biology and Bioengineering (ZRG1 F05-Q).