** To do our part in mitigating the spread of COVID-19 and keeping our staff, supporters and community safe, MDI Biological Laboratory has moved all public events, courses and conferences to a virtual format. Our top priority is the safety of our employees, supporters and community. We will be hosting this Science Café online.**
The topic of the MDI Science Café for Monday, April 12, 2021 will be “A Conceptual History of Animal Regeneration: From Imagining & ‘Knowing’ to Thinking & Experimenting,” presented by Chuck Dinsmore, Ph.D.
Regenerative biology and medicine have become the focus of global efforts at elucidating mechanisms underlying the fundamental processes by which regeneration unfolds. But how did we get here?
Dr. Dinsmore suggests three stages of Western thought in which epimorphic regeneration, that is the replacement of complex form following its loss, appears in the literature of the day. Epimorphic regeneration constitutes a clearly distinct form of repair from the more familiar tissue regeneration or wound healing.
The stages proposed are 1) imagining, 2) knowing and 3) thinking with the concept of animal regeneration highlighted at each turn. They represent, the widely separated (3000 years!) though overlapping periods in the evolution of scientific thinking and evidence-based knowledge about the nature of ‘generation’ and its surrogate, regeneration.
Examples of the first two stages appear over about 500 years in ancient Greek literature followed by a protracted period of stasis in Western culture. Then a cluster of specific 18th century discoveries occurred; the remarkable regenerative abilities of the hydra and then the salamander upset philosophical commitments to conservative views of the nature of ‘generation’. More importantly perhaps, the exemplary methodology applied to these investigations, the ‘doubtful’ interrogation of nature to my mind, laid the foundations of modern experimental biology.
Retired Rush Medical College professor and Maine Master Naturalist, Dr. Chuck Dinsmore grew up in Maine, attended public schools and received an undergraduate degree in biology at Bowdoin College, where he began research on salamander limb regeneration. He continued his studies at Brown University with a stint at the Hubrecht Lab in The Netherlands, working on axolotl limb regeneration. Dr. Dinsmore spent 5 summers at MDIBL focused on tail regeneration in plethodontid salamanders that he collected locally. His long-time interest in the history of science was intensified by time as a ‘visiting scholar’ at The University of Chicago, with a brief period in Geneva investigating the history of regeneration research in the 18th century. In 2007, Dr. Dinsmore’s book A History of Regeneration Research: The Evolution of a Science was published by Cambridge University Press. The book offers an insightful analysis of discoveries in regeneration research, examining the social, historical and philosophical contexts of the major milestones in this field of biology. Considered among the best histories of its kind, the book has been widely praised for its importance not only to development biologists but to historians of science.
The MDI Science Café series is held on the second Monday of the month through May, when the bimonthly summer series will begin.
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MDI Science Cafés are offered in fulfillment of the MDI Biological Laboratory’s mission to promote scientific literacy and increase public engagement with science. The popular events offer a chance to hear directly from speakers about trends in science.
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