Alejandro Sánchez Alvarado is a developmental biologist recognized for his work on animal regeneration. He is known particularly for his studies on regeneration and tissue homeostasis using the flatworm research organism Schmidtea mediterranea. Sánchez Alvarado was born and raised in Caracas, Venezuela where he attended the Colegio Emil Friedman. After graduating from high school, Sánchez Alvarado attended Vanderbilt University in Nashville, Tennessee and graduated with a degree in molecular biology. He received a Ph.D. in Pharmacology and Cell Biophysics from the University of Cincinnati School of Medicine. He was a postdoctoral fellow and then a Staff Associate at the Department of Embryology of the Carnegie institution for Science, Department of Embryology. In 2002 he joined the faculty at the University of Utah School of Medicine and in 2011 he became an Investigator of the Stowers Institute for Medical Research. He has been an Investigator of the Howard Hughes Medical Institute since 2005, is a member of the Academia de Ciencias de Latinoamérica, and is a fellow of both the American Academy of Arts and Sciences and the Marine Biological Laboratory.

Research Interests

Alejandro Sánchez Alvarado's laboratory is interested in understanding the problem of animal regeneration. Besides the obvious and important practical ramifications of improving human health, the study of regeneration also provides fertile and largely unexplored grounds to obtain a greater understanding of the fundamental molecular and cellular activities governing biological function. Like embryogenesis, regeneration does involve the self-assembly of new tissues. Yet, very much unlike embryogenesis, regeneration also entails the anatomical and functional integration of newly made parts into older, pre-existing tissues. Moreover, not all animals can replace structures lost to damage or amputation, even though all organisms share a finite, pleiotropic set of developmental pathways. If regeneration merely recycles such pathways in the adult form, why can some animals regenerate while others cannot? Sánchez Alvarado?s laboratory aims to answer these exciting questions by methodically developing, introducing and interrogating the regenerative capacities of understudied organisms. Such studies have begun to illuminate the molecular and cellular nature of regeneration and stands to provide mechanistic insights into many fundamental and unresolved aspects of metazoan embryonic, post-embryonic and adult developmental biology.

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Section 22: Cellular and Developmental Biology