Michael Levin, PhD., is Vannevar Bush Professor in the Department of Biology and Director of Tufts Center for Regenerative and Developmental Biology
Professor Levin discussed his work in February 2012 on Contemporary Science Issues and Innovations: Harnessing the Bioelectric Potential in Cells for Regeneration..
Dr. Levin is well known for thinking “outside the box” and for his leading edge research in left-right asymmetry and in how the bioelectrical language of cells can be used to control cell behavior. His more recent research focuses on how living systems learn and store information in cells and tissue outside the brain. In 2004, the journal Nature celebrated his work on left-right asymmetry as a “milestone in developmental biology in the last century.” Dr. Levin’s work has numerous potential applications, including the very early detection of cancer cells and the repair of birth defects.
Professor Levin and his colleagues at the Levin Lab, Tufts University have demonstrated that manipulation of voltage gradients in embryonic cells can alter physical structure: for example, extra eyes, eyes in odd places, or no eyes at all. The discovery of the vital role of ion currents in cells in storing the information necessary to pattern a complex 3-dimensional organism suggests that it may well be possible to exploit this factor to regenerate organs, limbs, and tissues in humans. If so, Dr. Levin’s efforts to gain molecular-level control over this cellular communication has introduced a great and unexpected leap in medical history.
Awards and Honors
2011 Vannevar Bush Endowed Chair appointment
2007 Established Investigator Award from American Heart Association
2004 Nature: recognition of Michael Levin’s work on embryonic left-right asymmetry as “a milestone in developmental biology in last century. ”
Science News, 12/31/11 Story One: Building the Body Electric