Michael Levin is a biologist at Tufts University.
Dr Levin is a researcher from Tufts University in Massachusetts, whose work focuses on organ placement in the body.He holds the Vannevar Bush Chair in biology and directs the Center for Regenerative and Developmental Biology in the School of the Arts and Sciences at Tufts.He is also an associate faculty member of the Wyss Institute of Biologically Inspired Engineering at Harvard University.
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The finding that head shape is not hard-wired by the genome but can be overridden by manipulating electrical synapses in the body suggests that differences in species could be determined in part by the activity of bioelectrical networks. "It is commonly thought that the sequence and structure of chromatin - material that makes up chromosomes - determine the shape of an organism, but these results show that the function of physiological networks can override the species-specific default anatomy," says the paper's senior and corresponding author Michael Levin, Ph.D., who holds the Vannevar Bush Chair in biology and directs the Center for Regenerative and Developmental Biology in the School of Arts and Sciences at Tufts. "By modulating the connectivity of cells via electrical synapses, we were able to derive head morphology and brain patterning belonging to a completely different species from an animal with a normal genome." However, unlike the Levin lab's previous work, in which a different species of planaria could be permanently altered to a two-headed morphology, this shape change was only temporary.