Throughout human life, many cells such as hair follicles and certain tissues such as liver can be continuously replaced to maintain tissue integrity in response to normal, daily wear and tear. However, the human response to more serious tissue damage, such as acute damage to limbs or to the spinal cord, is limited to relatively simple wound healing, whereby collagenous scar tissue fills the injury site, assuring the tissue’s structural integrity but often resulting in a debilitating loss of functional activity. While humans do exhibit some very limited regenerative capacity (e.g. finger tips), other vertebrates exhibit sometimes astonishing regenerative ability.Salamanders show the highest diversity in being able to regenerate limbs, tail, heart, eyes and jaw. Our aim is to understand at the molecular and cellular level how an axolotl spinal cord can functionally repair after injury and why mammals cannot.
Dr. Echeverri is Assistant Professor in the Department of Genetics, Cell Biology and Development at University of Minnesota
The twenty-third Cserr Lecture is given in memory of Helen F. Cserr, Ph.D., a distinguished scientist and researcher who worked at the MDI Biological Laboratory for twenty summers. Dr. Cserr’s brilliant mind, the high quality of her research, her ability to attract top-notch students, and her consummate graciousness made her an invaluable member of the MDI Biological Laboratory community. The Laboratory appealed to Dr. Cserr at many levels as well: the richness of the collaborations formed with other scientists, the natural beauty, and, most of, all the usefulness of the marine models she found for studying the topic which most interested her: the blood-brain barrier.