Exploiting Cellular Decision-Making by Targeting Bioelectric Communication: A Novel Approach to Regenerative Medicine and Synthetic Bioengineering

18 Apr
Topics in Bioengineering
Michael Levin, Tufts
Thursday, April 18, 2019 - 4:30pm to 5:30pm
60 Oxford Street, Room 330

A remarkable fact about living bodies is that cells communicate during embryogenesis and regeneration to enable them to work together toward the construction and repair of complex anatomical structures. My lab has uncovered a powerful new component of that communication: endogenous bioelectrical signaling among all cells (not just neurons) that enables the computations required to make decisions about large-scale growth and form. We have developed novel techniques to re-write the pattern memories that control gene expression and morphogenesis, with numerous applications for birth defects, regeneration of injured organs, cancer reprogramming, and synthetic bioengineering of novel living machines. In this talk, I will describe the emerging science at the intersection of developmental biophysics, basal cognition, and regenerative medicine. The development of new tools, together with conceptual advances that link computer science, cognitive science, and molecular genetics, are revealing exciting new vistas for many fields, from bioengineering to artificial intelligence.

Jennifer Vasquez