Regenerating lost body parts: What can flatworms tell us about the brain?

An online BRAINet lecture

September 11, 2023
12 p.m. to 1 p.m.

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Planarian and its regenerated body parts

The Oregon Science Festival, presented by OMSI, will include five days of events in the Portland Metro Area and beyond from September 11-15, 2023 including workshops, tours, lectures and events. The Brain Research Awareness and Information Network (BRAINet) is proud to host our monthly online lecture as part of this week-long celebration of science.

Freshwater planarians, a type of flatworm, can regenerate any body part lost to injury, which makes them incredibly useful to scientists. By studying the mechanisms for how a flatworm can, for example, generate into two separate individuals when cut in half, scientists are learning more about the mechanisms of how brain regeneration is possible. This, in turn, can inform what we know about human diseases such as brain cancer.

In this talk, Dr. Bret Pearson will show you how he uses planarians to understand the biology of stem cells, neural injury, and whole brain regeneration. His lab is attempting to identify neural stem cells and pathways of neurogenesis in planarians that will contribute to human health in the long term. Be prepared to see some live-action videos of planarian regeneration!

Bret Pearson, Ph.D., is a Professor of pediatrics in the OHSU School of Medicine and a member of the Knight Cancer Institute. He received his Ph.D. from University of Oregon, and was a postdoctoral fellow at the University of Utah. He spent the last 12 years at the Hospital for Sick Children/University of Toronto before being recruited to OHSU in the fall of 2021.