Technologies for the Advancement of Science
One of the core ideas behind the theme is to integrate across campus and catalyze new approaches and developments across biology.
The TAS team is a unique group with strengths and research interests in diverse disciplines, ranging from vertebrate development biology to biophysics and chemistry of materials. One of the core ideas behind the theme is to integrate across campus and catalyze new approaches and developments across biology. However, a common thread that is emerging within the theme revolves around the molecular mechanisms underlying regeneration. Regeneration involves growth, remodeling and rewiring at multiple length and time scales; at the level of the whole organism, tissues, cells as well as intracellular signaling networks. Addressing a complex problem such as this requires a comprehensive, multi-scalar and multi-disciplinary approach where existing strategies are married to new perspectives on this problem. Our diversity is our strength here. For instance, one of our common efforts is based on the use of different model organisms to address the molecular mechanisms and functional trajectories of regeneration. One such model organism includes the flatworm Planaria, which shows remarkable whole-body regeneration, and is an excellent tractable model for addressing this question. In this context, the interests within TAS ranges from addressing cell fate determination mediated by post-transcriptional regulation to probing the trajectories / mechanisms underlying neural regeneration exploiting functional outputs such as light sensing. We are also building a powerful framework of analysis of cell/whole-organism proteins, lipids, sugars and metabolites to decipher the pathways essential for regeneration. Further to enhance the scope of the planaria model, we are developing self-assembled nanomaterials and targeted delivery vehicles to make it amenable to genetic perturbations. The strategy used to develop delivery vehicles can be adapted to other model systems to study regeneration. Patterning signals and genetic programs governing regeneration essentially recapitulate developmental pathways. Our interest to understand how specific cell/tissue types are specified during embryonic development in vertebrates, adds a critical perspective to the theme of regeneration. We envision expanding on this perspective by looking at model systems across evolutionary timescale, particularly focusing on how cell types and multi-cellular architectures evolve and acquire regenerative characteristics.