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Sánchez Alvarado Lab

Our lab seeks to uncover the cellular and genetic mechanisms responsible for regeneration and development.

Research Summary

What is the basis underlying regeneration?

Research Areas

Development and Regeneration, Genetics and Genomics, Evolutionary Biology, Molecular and Cell Biology


Planarians, Apple snails, Killifish

Regeneration is in essence the recapitulation of early development. The Sánchez Alvarado Lab investigates the genetic basis and molecular processes of regeneration and tissue maintenance. The group has established the planarian flatworm, Schmidtea mediterranea, as an essential research organism for regeneration science across the globe.

Dozens of genes, and genetic and molecular pathways that drive planarian regeneration have been uncovered in the lab. The lab has identified that adult somatic stem cells are the sole proliferating cell type that differentiate and are responsible for proper anatomical and functional integration of new tissues into pre-existing tissue.

The Sánchez Alvarado Lab continues to study planarians yet has expanded regeneration research to other organisms including the apple snail, Pomacia cannaliculata, and the African killifish, Nothobranchius furzeri. By investigating and characterizing the molecular and genetic basis of regeneration in multiple research organisms, the team seeks to understand developmental and evolutionary tradeoff mechanisms in higher organisms, including humans.

Principal Investigator

Alejandro Sánchez Alvarado

President and Chief Scientific Officer

Stowers Institute for Medical Research

Portrait of Alejandro Sanchez Alvarado

Get to know the lab

Why planarians?

Planarians are an excellent research organism for studies on regeneration. The Sánchez Alvarado Lab investigates the mechanisms underlying regeneration using both the asexual and sexual strains of the flatworm, Schmidtea mediterranea, and a newly discovered planarian isolate, Girardia sp. (Guanajuato).

Group of people enjoying an evening meal outside at a restaurant

Our Team

Why Stowers?

Where would you be 20 years from now if you were to join Stowers? Executive Director and Chief Scientific Officer, Alejandro Sánchez Alvarado, explains how doing science here is different and why you should join our team.

2023 Vilcek Prize in Biomedical Science

Alejandro Sánchez Alvarado receives the Vilcek Prize in Biomedical Science for his contributions to the field of regeneration—from the identification of crucial genes that control regeneration in living organisms, to the potential for regenerative medicine to treat disease.

Featured Publications

Hox genes regulate asexual reproductive behavior and tissue segmentation in adult animals

Arnold CP, Lozano AM, Mann FG, Jr., Nowotarski SH, Haug JO, Lange JJ, Seidel CW, Sánchez Alvarado A. Nat Commun. 2021;12:6706. doi: 6710.1038/s41467-41021-26986-41462.

Identification of rare, transient post-mitotic cell states that are induced by injury and required for whole-body regeneration in Schmidtea mediterranea

Benham-Pyle BW, Brewster CE, Kent AM, Mann FG, Jr., Chen S, Scott AR, Box AC, Sánchez Alvarado A. Nat Cell Biol. 2021;23:939-952.

Changes in regeneration-responsive enhancers shape regenerative capacities in vertebrates

Wang W, Hu CK, Zeng A, Alegre D, Hu D, Gotting K, Ortega Granillo A, Wang Y, Robb S, Schnittker R, Zhang S, Alegre D, Li H, Ross E, Zhang N, Brunet A, Sanchez Alvarado A. Science. 2020;369: eaaz3090. doi: 10.1126/science.aaz3090.

Wnt and TGF-β coordinate growth and patterning to regulate size-dependent behavior

Arnold CP, Benham-Pyle BW, Lange JJ, Wood CJ, Sánchez Alvarado A. Nature. 2019;572:655-659.

Prospectively Isolated Tetraspanin(+) Neoblasts Are Adult Pluripotent Stem Cells Underlying Planaria Regeneration

Zeng A, Li H, Guo L, Gao X, McKinney S, Wang Y, Yu Z, Park J, Semerad C, Ross E, Cheng LC, Davies E, Lei K, Wang W, Perera A, Hall K, Peak A, Box A, Sánchez Alvarado A. Cell. 2018;173:1593-1608.e20.

Molecular characterization of a flatworm Girardia isolate from Guanajuato, Mexico

Duncan EM, Nowotarski SH, Guerrero-Hernandez C, Ross EJ, D'Orazio JA, Clubes de Ciencia Mexico Workshop for Developmental B. [published ahead of print June 17 2022]. Dev Biol 2022.

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