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UF Launches Project to Bridge the Regeneration Gap

search. Initial funding will help provide fellowships for young scientists who will bridge the gaps between the different labs and investigators involved in regeneration research. "The fellows will be the glue that holds this broad group of scientists together," said Steindler, a professor of neuroscience at the UF College of Medicine. "We will begin a process of sharing ideas and designing experiments to answer questions about growth in simple systems that can then be applied to more complex tissue reconstruction needed in human organisms."

Although human organ systems such as the liver are quite capable of regeneration, the brain has only a small quantity of adult stems cells to fight disease or injuries. Similarly, the body has limited capacity to repair injured limbs or spinal cords. Regeneration researchers seek to strengthen the body's inherent healing powers.

"We are bringing together the best of the developmental biology world with the best of the stem cell world and starting the conversation, with the focus on how to get regeneration to work in a mammal," said Edward Scott, Ph.D., a professor of molecular genetics and director of the Program in Stem Cell Biology at the College of Medicine. "Essentially, our body can heal itself, and that's why many of us live to be 80. But we can't do things like grow an arm or finger as we did in the early stages of our development. We want to learn how to turn those systems back on in people."

Recently, studies have shown humans possess some of the same genes and communication pathways used by some of nature's most remarkably regenerative animals.

Already, UF McKnight Brain Institute scientists have discovered more than 100 genes associated with all major human neurological diseases in a simple marine snail, as well as more than 600 genes that control development. In the realm of adult human stem cells, Brain Institute researchers have shown ordinary human brain cells
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