Save the date: Duke Pinnell Symposium

Duke’s Pinnell Center for Investigative Dermatology is hosting a symposium on Oct 28th that features several regenerative medicine experts. Among the speakers: Dr. Niroshana Anandasadapathy is an expert in dendritic cell vaccination, tumor immunology, and skin immunity. Dr. Todd Ridky’s research focuses on cutaneous genetically modified 3D cancer models, regeneration, and tumor invasion. Dr. Dennis Roop is a leader of skin stem cell biology and regenerative medicine and the leader of the Gates Stem Cell Center in Colorado. More information>

As Stem Cell research advances, scientists urge caution

The International Society of Stem Cell Research, or ISSCR, is the nation’s leading nonprofit organization of stem cell researchers. ISSCR recently launched a website to inform the public about the enormous promise of stem cell research. Stem cells have proven to be safe and effective to treat certain diseases such as leukemia and for certain types of tissue grafts. However, there has recently been a proliferation of clinics, many offering stem cell treatments that have not been tested or proven to work. Not only are they ineffective, these unregulated treatments can have dangerous side effects. Regeneration Next supports responsible and ethical stem cell research to ensure their great potential is utilized without causing harm to patients.

How can you tell which treatments work and which to avoid? Read ISSCR’s article, “Nine things to know about Stem Cells“, to learn more.  For further reading, this New York Times article takes a deeper look into the challenges facing scientists and researchers in communicating the dangers of unregulated stem cell research.

Regeneration Next Annual Retreat – call for Abstracts

The Regeneration Next first Annual Retreat will take place on October 4th, 2016 at the Trent Semans Center at Duke University, Durham.
Dr. Tom Rando of Stanford has been confirmed as our keynote speaker. A draft agenda and other details will be posted in the upcoming weeks.

We are pleased to invite abstract submissions from Duke trainees and early-career faculty for our first retreat. The full call for abstracts and submission instructions can be found here.

FAQ: Postdoctoral Fellowship Applications (due July 15!)

Regeneration Next postdoctoral fellowship applications are due July 15th! The full callout is here.

To help you in preparation of your application, we have compiled a list of questions received as of July 5 July 7, 2016. Additional questions should be sent to Dr. Sharlini Sankaran and will be posted on this Q&A page.

Q:  Who is eligible for this fellowship?
A:  Any postdoctoral associates/ postdoctoral researchers/ postdoctoral scholars who are currently performing research related to tissue regeneration in Duke University laboratories, except those who are already in the labs of one of the Regeneration Next Co-directors (Poss, Sherwood, Bursac, Alman labs). Postdoctoral researchers who are not currently at Duke are not eligible for this round of fellowships.

Q:  How much is the stipend?
A:  The stipend is $55,000 to be spent over two years.

Q:  What will the stipend cover?
A:  The stipend will partially cover stipend, benefits, and research expenses. This stipend will not cover travel.

Q:  My mentor is currently not affiliated with Regeneration Next, can I apply?
A:  Yes! Indeed, we encourage applications from researchers from any mentor interested in regeneration-related research at Duke. Remember that the mentor must provide one of the three required letters of reference.

Q:  Must the citations/references be included in the 5-page limit, or can they be separate?
A:  The citations/references can be separate and in addition to the 5-page limit for the research proposal.

Q:  What should be the subject line in the email for letters of reference?
A:  The subject line should include the applicant name, the words “RNI Fellows Application”, and be clear that it is a letter of reference. E.g: RNI Fellows Application Reference Letter – Sharlini Sankaran, Ph.D.

Q: I am an incoming postdoc, and have already accepted employment in a Duke University lab beginning Fall 2016. Am I eligible to apply?
A: Yes, as long as your Duke mentor provides one of the three Letters of Reference.

Q: What font size and spacing should I use?
A: We did not specify a format to use; however it is always a good idea to submit an application that is readable by the reviewers. By “readable”, we suggest at least 10pt Arial or similar font, at least 1.15 lines spacing, and at least 0.5″ margins.

We look forward to receiving and reviewing your applications!

Ken Poss receives American Heart Association Award

Ken Poss, Ph.D.

Ken Poss, Ph.D.

Kenneth Poss, PhD, James B. Duke Professor of Cell Biology, medicine and biology and Director of the Duke Regeneration Next Initiative, has received a $1 million merit award from the American Heart Association. The Merit Awards support scientists who propose novel approaches to major research challenges in cardiovascular disease and stroke that have the potential to produce an unusually high impact. Dr. Poss will study how cardiac cells regenerate.


Chromosome proliferation mechanisms in fruit fly and implications for understanding cancer

Dr. Don Fox

Don Fox, Ph.D.

Dr. Don Fox, Assistant Professor of Pharmacology and Cancer Biology at Duke, studies the processes of tissue repair and remodeling, both of which involve mitosis, in the fruit fly Drosophila melanogaster.  Mitosis is the process of cell division that normally results in two identical pairs of chromosomes being separated into each new cell.

Recently, Dr. Fox and his student Ben Stormo discovered that mitosis is very different when more than two identical pairs of chromosomes are present.  By carefully observing cells with these extra chromosomes as they enter mitosis, Stormo and Fox discovered a new type of chromosome separation that happens just before a cell undergoes the standard form of mitosis.  This newly discovered chromosome separation helps cells to cope with the challenge of separating all those extra chromosome copies. As many tumor cells have extra chromosomes, and as extra chromosomes can be generated by some forms of chemotherapy, these findings may have an important implication in the understanding of the mechanisms governing cancerous tumor progression. “Understanding these regulatory mechanisms brings us one step closer to understanding how some cancerous cells with extra chromosomes may proliferate in humans,” says Dr. Fox.

The paper was published in the Journal eLife on May 9, 2016.

A fruit fly cell with extra chromosomes at different stages of a disassembly process during mitosis. Image credit: Don Fox.

A fruit fly cell with extra chromosomes at different stages of a disassembly process during mitosis. Image credit: Don Fox.

Postdoctoral fellowships available: call for applications

Update: Please check out the FAQ page! (Updated July 5, 2016).

The Regeneration Next Initiative (RNI) was established by the Duke University School of Medicine to enhance discovery and applications in the broad field of tissue regeneration. Regeneration Next invites applicants for postdoctoral fellowships. This first round of fellowships is designed for postdoctoral associates who are currently performing research related to tissue regeneration in Duke University laboratories, and will provide two-year total funds of $55,000 to partially cover stipend, benefits, and research expenses.

RNI intends to support several new RNI Fellows each year. Trainees will receive support for two years and participate in mentored laboratory research, the annual Community Retreat, seminar series, and career development activities. It is important that Fellows are actively engaged in RNI activities.

RNI Fellows need not be US citizens or permanent residents.

Application materials
A. Cover Page – include name of applicant and title of proposal
B. Brief research proposal, consisting of Specific Aims (limited to 1 page), Importance of the Problem (limited to 1 page), and Research Design (limited to 3 pages). Limits will be strictly enforced.
C. Biosketch of the applicant, including their educational background, research experience, and publications.
D. 5 page standard NIH Biosketch of proposed mentor.
E. One-paragraph statement of applicant’s career plans.
F. Three letters of recommendation to be emailed directly to the Committee at One of the three letters should be from the proposed mentor.

The deadline for the receipt of applications for this callout is July 15, 2016. Funding will begin September 1, 2016. Please send applications by email (as a single PDF file) to In the Subject, please write RNI Fellows application – your name.

Questions about the callout may be directed to Dr. Sharlini Sankaran.


Junsu Kang, Ph.D. and Tissue Regeneration Enhancer Elements

Junsu Kang, Ph.D.

Junsu Kang, Ph.D.

Junsu Kang, Ph.D., a postdoctoral fellow in Ken Poss’s laboratory, studies how tissue regeneration programs are regulated. This April, Junsu led a study describing the discovery of tissue regeneration enhancer elements. These elements are DNA sequences that help turn genes on after injury that carry out key functions in highly regenerative tissues, such as the hearts and fins of zebrafish.

Junsu and colleagues also showed these elements can be engineered into simple DNA constructs that can boost the regenerative capacity of tissues, and that they can even be employed to control the expression of genes in the injured tissues of mammals like mice. The study was published in the April 14, 2016 issue of Nature.

Green signal visualizes activation of gene expression in an injured zebrafish heart (top) or fin (bottom) by a tissue regeneration enhancer element.

Green signal visualizes activation of gene expression in an injured zebrafish heart (top) or fin (bottom) by a tissue regeneration enhancer element.

The Silver Lab

Section of embryonic mouse brain [image 1] showing neural stem cell populations in red and new neurons in green. The Silver lab studies neural stem cells of the developing brain. We aim to understand how stem cells are able to produce both new neurons and new stem cells. Dysfunction of neural stem cells divisions can result in neurodevelopmental disorders such as microcephaly or autism. Therefore our studies can help elucidate fundamental aspects of stem cell biology as well as have clinical relevance.


Image 1

Developing mouse brain [image 2] depicting activity of an enhancer (blue) active in early brain development. This was part of a study to identify enhancers relevant for human brain traits.

Enhancer expression in developing cortex

Image 2

Image of a mouse brain [image 3] showing dying cells within a developing brain. Green cells are neurons. Cells die as a result of mitotic defects in neural stem cells.


Image 3