Programmed Cell Death

Programmed cell death (PCD) is a fundamental biological process denoting the genetically encoded, actively controlled suicide of a cell. PCD had its evolutionary origins already billions of years ago in bacteria that defended their clonal colonies against viral attacks by sacrificing individual cells for the greater good of the colony. With the evolution of complex multicellular organisms, PCD has adopted a multitude of functions in physiological and pathological development.

Moritz Nowack

Group Leader
Full Professorship at Ghent University as of 2020
Associate Professorship at Ghent University, 2018-2020
Assistant Professorship at Ghent University, 2013-2018
VIB Group leader since of 2014 (Junior Group leader since 2009)
Postdoc: EMBO longterm fellow, VIB, 2009–2011
Postdoc.: Max Planck Institute for Plant Breeding Research, Cologne, Germany, 2007-2009

Research areas

Immunology & inflammation Systems biology Plant biology

Model organisms

Research Focus

In both animals and plants PCD is a fundamental concept of development. Forms of developmental PCD occur throughout plant development, and are crucial for plant growth and reproduction. Defects in the molecular genetics control of PCD can cause severe developmental aberrations and conditions.

The significance of PCD for human health has been recognized decades ago, and today we have a detailed understanding of the molecular regulation of apoptosis and some other forms of animal PCD. In plants however, we still know comparatively little about PCD – despite the fact that different forms of PCD occur throughout plant life, and many of them are critical for plant health and fitness, as well as for successful growth and reproduction.


BCECF staining visualizing the Arabidopsis root cap. by Moritz Nowack


To showcase the world-class scientific research of the Moritz Nowack Lab, you can discover their scientific papers in more detail.


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The Moritz Nowack Lab can only thrive thanks to the dedication and commitment of its people, no matter what their function or seniority.


To stay up to date in rapidly developing fields, scientists regularly interact with (international) colleagues. Conferences and other (scientific) events are an excellent way to facilitate such a continent-spanning knowledge exchange.