MDI Biological Laboratory
Scientific Advisory Board

Alejandro Sánchez Alvarado, Ph.D.

Alejandro Sánchez Alvarado, Ph.D. is the Executive Director and Chief Scientific Officer of the Stowers Institute and a Howard Hughes Medical Institute Investigator. 

The Sánchez Alvarado Lab explores the process and genetic control of regeneration and tissue maintenance. The group has developed the flatworm Schmidtea mediterranea into a powerful research organism for the study of regeneration.

The Sánchez Alvarado group has identified dozens of genes and genetic programs that drive regeneration and ensure the anatomical and functional integration of newly-made parts into older, pre-existing tissues. They have also demonstrated that adult somatic stem cells are the only proliferating cell type and generate all the different cell types found in an adult flatworm.

Continuing work that began with studies of the planarian flatworm, the Sánchez Alvarado Lab has expanded their research to other organisms positioned further up the evolutionary tree. These organisms include the apple snail Pomacea cannaliculata and a new vertebrate model of regeneration, the turquoise killifish Nothobranchius furzeri as shown in a 2020 Science paper. By identifying and characterizing regeneration at the level of molecular genetics, the team aims to better understand how higher organisms, including humans, develop biologically.