Explaining Regeneration: Cells and Limbs as Complex Living Systems, Learning From History

Kate MacCord, Jane Maienschein

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Scopus citations


Regeneration has been investigated since Aristotle, giving rise to many ways of explaining what this process is and how it works. Current research focuses on gene expression and cell signaling of regeneration within individual model organisms. We tend to look to model organisms on the reasoning that because of evolution, information gained from other species must in some respect be generalizable. However, for all that we have uncovered about how regeneration works within individual organisms, we have yet to translate what we have gleaned into achieving the goal of regenerative medicine: to harness and enhance our own regenerative abilities. Turning to history may provide a crucial perspective in advancing us toward this goal. History gives perspective, allowing us to reflect on how our predecessors did their work and what assumptions they made, thus also revealing limitations. History, then, may show us how we can move from our current reductionist thinking focused on particular selected model organisms toward generalizations about this crucial process that operates across complex living systems and move closer to repairing our own damaged bodies.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number734315
JournalFrontiers in Cell and Developmental Biology
StatePublished - Aug 31 2021


  • Morgan
  • blastema
  • complex living systems
  • generalizability
  • model organisms
  • reductionism
  • regeneration

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Developmental Biology
  • Cell Biology


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