Ready Set Grow: 9AM – 10AM


Bornstein Amphitheater | 9am – 10am

In Greek mythology, the immortal Prometheus was said to have been punished for theft by Zeus who sent an eagle to feed on his liver every day only to have it grow again at night. Today, the ability of the human liver to regenerate itself is a well established fact. But what about our other organs? Can we look forward to a day when amputees are able to grow new limbs or human kidneys can repair themselves preventing renal failure? In this session Drs. Whited and Handin delve into the secrets of the salamander and the zebrafish and how they can help us unlock the potential of organ regeneration in humans.


Ben Humphreys, MD, PhD
Robert Handin
Rich Lee, MD & patient
Jessica Whited, PhD



Robert Handin, MD
Senior Physician, Division of Hematology, Brigham and Women’s Hospital
Professor of Medicine, Harvard Medical School

Our lab uses zebrafish to study organ regeneration and stem cell biology.  One of our latest projects has been the identification and characterization of an adult stem resident in the zebrafish kidney which can reconstitute entire nephrons.  We have also shown that the number of resident stem cells declines as zebrafish age and that renal stem cell number is epigenetically regulated by histone deacetylase inhibitors.  Our long-term goal is to learn how to “educate” mammalian kidneys so that they can generate new nephrons in post-natal life.

Jessica Whited, MD

Axolotls are salamanders with amazing regenerative abilities in key body parts such as limbs.  While axolotls can regenerate entire limbs with perfection throughout life, very little molecular details have been uncovered about how this process happens.  Dr. Whited is dedicated to understanding how axolotl limb regeneration occurs with the hope that this understanding will lead to crucial insights into why mammals, including humans, do not regenerate well.  Elucidating the fundamental differences may lead to the future development of therapies designed to improve regenerative prospects in humans.

Session Co-Chairs

Benjamin HumphreysBen Humphreys, MD, PhD

Co-Chair, BWH Regenerative Medicine Center; Assistant Professor of Medicine, Harvard Medical School; Associate Physician, Brigham and Women’s Hospital

Dr. Humphreys is Director of the Laboratory of Translational Research in Kidney Repair. He is an Established Investigator of the American Heart Association and a member of the American Society of Clinical Investigation. His laboratory investigates kidney injury and regeneration with a focus on stem cell and regenerative medicine approaches. The goal of this work is to develop new therapies for humans suffering from kidney failure.


Richard T. Lee, MD

Richard T. Lee is Professor of Stem Cell and Regenerative Biology at Harvard University and Professor of Medicine at Harvard Medical School. Dr. Lee is a graduate of Harvard College in Biochemical Sciences and received his M.D. from Cornell University Medical College. Dr. Lee completed both his residency and cardiology fellowship at Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston. Dr. Lee is Director of the Regenerative Medicine Center of Brigham and Women’s Hospital, where his own laboratory studies heart regeneration, diabetes and aging. In addition, Dr. Lee is an active clinician; he regularly treats both inpatients and outpatients as a clinical cardiologist at Brigham and Women’s Hospital.