Wendy  Beane  Planaria

PI: Wendy S. Beane


Determining How Shape
Is Restored During Regeneration

Shape is essential…from proteins to organisms.  Shape changes and tissue remodeling drive development, disease and even aging.  But despite the importance of shape, we still know very little about how shape is established, maintained, and (following injury) restored. Although recent advances have enabled us to determine developmental pathways and cell fate mechanisms, this still does not explain how changes in individual cells lead to an animal’s gross anatomy.  So the main questions remain.  Why do babies all have that stereotypical “human” shape (and never look like frogs or fish or birds)?  How does that human embryo know what “human” should look like, anyway?  What prevents us from growing six eyes, or nine, rather than just two?

fig1 Using the awesome regenerative power of the planarian flatworm (which is able to regenerate any and all tissues, even brain!), my research investigates the questions of animal shape. Planaria are remarkable in that they can regenerate an entire worm from just a tiny fragment of the original. This allows us to study how all the many different activities (cell migration, cell division, gene regulation, even cell death) are coordinated across thousands of cells, so that regenerating planarians always end up looking like a stereotypical “planaria.” Disrupt this coordination and new worms end up wildly misshapen—with tiny shrunken heads or even multiple heads! If we can figure out how shape is determined, this will provide strategies to further regenerative medicine’s goal of replacing lost organs or limbs.


Dept. of Biological Sciences



Dr. Beane will be giving a Plenary Lecture at BioEM 2014 in Cape Town, South Africa June 8-13, 2014.

Congrats to Michelle, Taylor, Khoa, and Jessica on their posters for MI-SFN.


Research Opportunities:

All of our positions are full.
Please check back in the Fall.


Dr. Beane’s Courses:

BIOS 1500 – Molecular & Cellular Biology (NOW BIOS 1610)

BIOS 5970 – Current Topics in Regeneration (Capstone)

Requests for Letters of Recommendation:

Click HERE for a letter request form. NOTE: In order to receive a letter, you must have taken two or more classes and/or done research with Dr. Beane.


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