MDI Biological Laboratory to offer signature course in Comparative Regenerative Biology

A highlight will be a symposium on latest advances in regenerative medicine.

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Why are some animals able to regenerate the form and function of almost any body part? What are the similarities and differences in the genetic circuits for regeneration in these animals? To what extent do humans share these genetic circuits? How can we manipulate these circuits in humans to trigger regeneration of lost or damaged tissues and organs?

These are some of the intriguing questions that will be addressed in the MDI Biological Laboratory’s “REGEN 2017” course in Comparative Regenerative Biology, July 29–August 12 2017, on the institution’s campus in Bar Harbor (ME, USA).

The increased incidence of degenerative diseases associated with the aging of the world’s population is shining a spotlight on regenerative medicine, which holds the potential to repair and replace lost and damaged tissues and organs – for instance, to regenerate heart muscle tissue damaged by a heart attack or to replace a kidney damaged by kidney disease.

Indeed, the US Department of Health and Human Services has called regenerative medicine the “vanguard of 21st century healthcare.”

The course, which is a follow-up to the inaugural course held in 2015, will bring together students and leaders in the field from around the world to learn about the determinants of regenerative capacity, the causes of biological aging and strategies for applying what is learned to improve human health and advance regenerative medicine.

“This is an exciting time in regenerative medicine, which is on the cusp of developing new therapies for the treatment of the major diseases that afflict humankind,” Voot P. Yin, assistant professor and course director, said. “Our REGEN course will promote the advancement of regenerative biology and medicine by bringing current and future leaders in the field together to share discoveries, scientific insights and research strategies and techniques.”

A highlight of the course will be a three-day symposium entitled “Learning from Nature: Comparative Biology of Tissue Regeneration and Aging”, August 4–6. Senior graduate students, postdoctoral scholars and junior faculty are invited to apply for participation in the course, which includes full registration for the symposium. Members of the public may register for the symposium alone.

The course will focus on animals that have retained the ability to repair and regenerate lost and damaged tissues and organs. The study of the genetic and molecular pathways underlying regeneration in these species provides insight into the dormant molecular pathways for regeneration in humans, raising the prospect therapies can be developed to trigger human regenerative capacity.

Students will examine, characterize and compare regenerative potential across a wide array of species; gain practical guidance in animal care, handling and husbandry; and combine microsurgical methods with state-of-the-art molecular analysis. They will also use comparative bioinformatics to identify key common regenerative signatures between species.

The faculty consists of:

  • Alejandro Sánchez Alvarado, investigator at the Stowers Institute for Medical Research
  • Karen Echeverri, assistant professor, Department of Genetics, Cell Biology and Development at the University of Minnesota’s Minnesota Stem Cell Institute
  • James Godwin, research scientist at The Jackson Laboratory and the MDI Biological Laboratory
  • Benjamin L. King, assistant professor of bioinformatics at the University of Maine
  • Juan Larrain, associate professor and vice president for research at Pontifical Catholic University of Chile
  • Vicki P. Losick, assistant professor at the MDI Biological Laboratory
  • Kenneth D. Poss, professor of cell biology at Duke University School of Medicine
  • Ashley Seifert, assistant professor at the University of Kentucky
  • Voot P. Yin.

The MDI Biological Laboratory is located on Mount Desert Island near Acadia National Park and the popular summer destination of Bar Harbor.

For more information or to register for the course or symposium, please email education@mdibl.org or visit the course homepage. Applications for the course will be reviewed on a rolling basis through April 1, 2017.

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