Inspiring Scientific Curiosity and Discovery

Unravelling the molecular and cell biology of limb and spinal cord regeneration and the evolution of regeneration

Dr. Elly Tanaka seeks to understand the cellular mechanisms underlying salamander limb and spinal cord regeneration as a model for how successful regeneration occurs in vertebrates. In addition to being exceptional models for studying regeneration, salamanders are also historically important models for understanding developmental processes. Salamanders therefore act as a starting point to rigorously investigate how mammals such as mice have lost regeneration capabilities during evolution, and they provide a springboard to design novel strategies for regenerating or replacing mammalian tissues. With these goals in mind the Tanaka laboratory has engineered three-dimensional spinal cord tissue and retinal pigment epithelia from embryonic stem cells.