MDI Biological Laboratory

MDI Biological Laboratory welcomes Prayag Murawala, Ph.D.

  • April 2, 2020

As the MDI Biological Laboratory works to strengthen our capacity to understand whether or not it is possible to enhance our natural ability to repair and regenerate damage to our tissues and limbs, we are excited to announce that Prayag Murawala, Ph.D., will join us as a faculty member in the Kathryn W. Davis Center for Regenerative Biology and Aging in June.

Coming from the Research Institute of Molecular Pathology in Vienna, Austria, Prayag has been working with Elly Tanaka, who is considered one of the world’s leading limb and spinal cord regeneration researchers. He brings a considerable amount of expertise, tools and knowledge of limb regeneration and wound healing, and we’re delighted to have him join us.

The Murawala Lab studies regeneration in the axolotl, a Mexican salamander. Axolotls have an amazing capacity for regeneration, able to regrow not only their limbs, but also complex organs like their brain and heart. Unlike humans, when an axolotl regenerates, it does not create scar tissue. Since some mammalian embryos and juvenile stages can also regenerate, it’s likely that adult mammals retain the code for limb regeneration in their genes as well.

The topic of regeneration has fascinated scientists for centuries. But it’s only been in the last decade that scientists have had access to the technologies that will allow them to unravel its mysteries. Prayag will join his Davis Center colleague James Godwin, Ph.D., in working to unlock the axolotl’s biological secrets and discover how these may benefit human health. The goal of their research is to figure out why vertebrates such as humans form a scar at the site of an injury or wound instead of regenerating the damaged tissue as axolotls and other regenerative animals do.

Although the idea of regenerating a limb was once dismissed as science-fiction, in the midst of the genomics era, this concept is now well within the realm of possibility. And while the culmination of research into real-world therapies may still be years away, the widespread benefits cannot be overlooked — helping veterans, accident victims, diabetic amputees and more. The ability to minimize scarring alone could have enormous impact on the millions that suffer from this condition. The results of this research may even be transferable to other organs, such as the brain, kidney and heart. 

We will welcome Prayag and his family to the MDI Biological Laboratory this summer and look forward to sharing his exciting journey of discovery with you in the months and years to come.