Michael Levin: Anatomical decision-making by cellular collectives
Anatomical decision-making by cellular collectives: Bioelectrical pattern memories, regeneration, and synthetic living organisms.
A key question for basic biology and regenerative medicine concerns the way in which evolution exploits physics toward adaptive form and function. While genomes specify the molecular hardware of cells, what algorithms enable cellular collectives to reliably build specific, complex, target morphologies? Our lab studies the way in which all cells, not just neurons, communicate as electrical networks that enable scaling of single-cell properties into collective intelligences that solve problems in anatomical feature space. By learning to read, interpret, and write bioelectrical information in vivo, we have identified some novel controls of growth and form that enable incredible plasticity and robustness in anatomical homeostasis. In this talk, I will describe the fundamental knowledge gaps with respect to anatomical plasticity and pattern control beyond emergence, and discuss our efforts to understand large-scale morphological control circuits. I will show examples in embryogenesis, regeneration, cancer, and synthetic living machines. I will also discuss the implications of this work for not only regenerative medicine, but also for fundamental understanding of the origin of bodyplans and the relationship between genomes and functional anatomy.
Endogenous Bioelectric Networks & Regenerative Medicine
Michael Levin, PhD, Director of the Allen Discovery Center at Tufts, and Tufts Center for Regenerative and Development Biology at Tufts University, presented innovative research in the fascinating fields of bioelectric networks and regenerative medicine.
In this presentation, Dr. Levin sketched a roadmap for regenerative medicine focused on manipulating the bioelectric pattern memories in tissue (as distinct to popular approaches of micromanaging molecular pathways), and described advances in the areas of repair of birth defects, limb regeneration, and cancer reprogramming.
He first discussed some fundamental problems of cell and developmental biology that must be solved to gain complete control over growth and form.
Dr. Levin also described developmental bioelectricity and the tools his group has created to modulate voltage-based signals that orchestrate cell behavior toward building and repairing complex anatomies.
Michael Levin, PhD, originally trained in computer science and artificial intelligence. Interested in novel ways to store and process information, he moved into biology to understand how living tissue performs computation during morphogenesis. He received his PhD from the genetics department at Harvard Medical School, identifying the first genes regulating the left-right asymmetry of the embryonic bodyplan. His laboratory is at Tufts University, where he is Vannevar Bush professor of biology, and director of the Allen Discovery Center.
Levin’s group is focused on understanding the mechanisms and algorithms by which cells are harnessed toward the creation and repair of complex anatomies. His lab specializes in understanding the bioelectrical signals that all cells (not just neurons) enable coordination and decision-making at the organ level. Using a combination of molecular embryology, biophysics, and computational modeling, they develop biomedical applications and new advances in machine learning and robotics inspired by the software of life.
Dr. Michael Levin - Tufts University - Reading and Writing the Bio-Electric Morphogenetic Code
Dr. Michael Levin is a Tufts University professor who holds the Vannevar Bush endowed Chair in the Biology department, and who serves as both the Director of the Tufts Center for Regenerative and Developmental Biology and Director, Allen Discovery Center at Tufts.
Dr. Levin’s group's focus is on understanding the bio-physical mechanisms that implement decision-making during complex pattern regulation, and harnessing endogenous bio-electric dynamics toward rational control of growth and form.
The lab's current main directions are:
• Understanding how somatic cells form bio-electrical networks for storing and recalling pattern memories that guide morphogenesis;
• Creating next-generation AI tools for helping scientists understand top-down control of pattern regulation (a new bioinformatics of shape);
• Using these insights to enable new capabilities in regenerative medicine and engineering.
Dr. Levin he got dual B.S. degrees, in Computer Science and in Biology and then received a PhD from Harvard University. He did post-doctoral training at Harvard Medical School, where he began to uncover a new bio-electric language by which cells coordinate their activity during embryogenesis. His independent laboratory (2000-2007 at Forsyth Institute, Harvard; 2008-present at Tufts University) develops new molecular-genetic and conceptual tools to probe large-scale information processing in regeneration, embryogenesis, and cancer suppression.
Recent honors include the Scientist of Vision award and the Distinguished Scholar Award.
Mike Levin's talk
Michael Levin, Michael Levin, a professor in the Biology department at Tufts, holds the Vannevar Bush endowed Chair and serves as director of the Allen Discovery Center at Tufts University. Recent honors include the Scientist of Vision award and the Distinguished Scholar Award. His group's focus is on understanding the biophysical mechanisms that implement decision-making during complex pattern regulation, and harnessing endogenous bioelectric dynamics toward rational control of growth and form.
The lab's current main directions are:
Understanding how somatic cells form bioelectrical networks for storing and recalling pattern memories that guide morphogenesis;
Creating next-generation AI tools for helping scientists understand top-down control of pattern regulation (a new bioinformatics of shape); and
Using these insights to enable new capabilities in regenerative medicine and engineering.
Prior to college, Michael Levin worked as a software engineer and independent contractor in the field of scientific computing. He attended Tufts University, interested in artificial intelligence and unconventional computation. To explore the algorithms by which the biological world implemented complex adaptive behavior, he got dual B.S. degrees, in CS and in Biology and then received a PhD from Harvard University. He did post-doctoral training at Harvard Medical School (1996-2000), where he began to uncover a new bioelectric language by which cells coordinate their activity during embryogenesis. His independent laboratory (2000-2007 at Forsyth Institute, Harvard; 2008-present at Tufts University) develops new molecular-genetic and conceptual tools to probe large-scale information processing in regeneration, embryogenesis, and cancer suppression.
Regeneration & Xenobots with Dr. Michael Levin of The Levin Lab | Build The Future Podcast
In this episode of Build The Future, we talk with Dr. Michael Levin, Principal Investigator at The Levin Lab, where their goal is to understand how individual cell behaviors are orchestrated towards appropriate large-scale outcomes despite unpredictable environmental perturbations.
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Picasso Tadpoles: Michael Levin on the 'Dark Matter' of Biology
Dr. Michael Levin of Tufts University crosses many disciplines: computer science, embryo development, cancer and tumor research; limb regeneration; evolutionary theory and neural networks.
If you watch Michael's fascinating talk at he'll take you down his magical rabbit hole including worms that grow new heads when you cut them in half, tumors that heal themselves and eyes planted on tails that actually work.
In this interview, Michael explodes the myth that we've got it mostly figured out.
The truth is closer to 1% understanding and 99% is Dark Matter.
Discover Michael's research at and
Michael Levin | 2019 Allen Frontiers Symposium
Michael Levin presents on the latest research from the Allen Discovery Center for Reading and Writing the Morphogenetic Code at Tufts University.
NSF Science Now - Michael Levin AI Research
Tufts Professor Michael Levin is using artificial intelligence to generate cancer-like properties in tadpoles, which could someday be used to cure disease, control cell behavior, or regenerate tissue.
Michael Levin: Artificial Intelligence and Cancer
For the first time, artificial intelligence has been used to generate a never-before-seen cancer phenotype. The findings provide new insight into the biophysics of cancer and raise broad implications for biomedicine.
Harnessing the Bioelectric Potential of Cells for Regeneration
Science for the Public, February 21, 2012. Michael Levin, PhD, Director, Tufts Center for Regenerative and Developmental Biology, and Vannevar Bush Professor in the Department of Biology.
Professor Michael Levin and his colleagues at the Levin Lab, Tufts University have demonstrated that manipulation of voltage gradients in embryonic cells can alter physical structure: for example, extra eyes, eyes in odd places, or no eyes at all. The discovery of the vital role of ion currents in cells in storing the information necessary to pattern a complex 3-dimensional organism suggests that it may well be possible to exploit this factor to regenerate organs, limbs, and tissues in humans.
Dr Michael Levin Speaks at MS Connects about SK Research
Dr Michael Levin speaks about MS research in Saskatchewan at MS Connects Conference in Saskatoon on November 17, 2018
NSF Workshop on HBI- Human-AI-Building Interaction
Jorge Ortiz, Electrical and Computer Engineering, Rutgers Univ.
Human-AI-Building Interaction: Inference and Interaction Through Sensors and Feedback
Blind tadpoles learn visually after researchers graft eyes onto tails
Michael Levin, Ph.D., Vannevar Bush professor of biology and director of the Allen Discovery Center at Tufts and the Tufts Center for Regenerative and Developmental Biology, discusses how recent research on tadpoles with ectopic eyes reveals the brain’s remarkable plasticity.
2/21/12: Harnessing the Bioelectric Potential of Cells for Regeneration
Michael Levin, Ph.D., Vannevar Bush Professor in the Department of Biology, Tufts University, and Director of the Tufts Center for Regenerative and Developmental Biology. Minute voltage variations in cells orchestrate crucial functions such as anatomical development in the embryo, defense mechanisms against cancer, the repair and in some organisms regeneration of damaged organs and limbs.
The Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence, happening at Penn State
The modern Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence (SETI) started around 1960, with the realization that humanity was capable of producing signals that we could detect at interstellar distances. A NASA program to detect radio waves from alien technology fought for funding through the ‘80s, before being cancelled by Congress in 1993.
Since then, SETI has limped along as a field outside of academia supported by private funding, but that has begun to change. This year, Penn State founded a new Extraterrestrial Intelligence Center, focusing on private philanthropy and changing political winds at NASA for support. Jason Wright will discuss the ambitions of the new center, and some of the research happening at Penn State.
Prof. Jason Wright is the Director of the Penn State Extraterrestrial Intelligence Center and serves as Acting Director of the Center for Exoplanets and Habitable Worlds. He earned his PhD in astronomy & astrophysics at the University of California, Berkeley working on problems of stellar astrophysics and the discovery of planets orbiting other stars.
He joined the faculty at Penn State in 2009, where he maintains a research group that studies a variety of problems across stellar and exoplanetary astrophysics. He is the Instrument Team Project Scientist for the NEID spectrograph, a premier planet-hunting instrument at the US national observatories built at Penn State.
He lives in State College with his family.
Using AI and Modeling to Diagnose Seizure-Generating Brain Regions
Using probabilistic modeling and artificial intelligence techniques based on real data from patients suffering from epilepsy, researchers at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and Mayo Clinic hae developed a model to identify seizure generating brain regions using only non-seizure data. The new approach has the potential to decrease the time of an epilepsy procedure from days or weeks to just a couple of hours.
Allen Discovery Center at Tufts University | Reading and writing the morphogenetic code
Go inside the Allen Discovery Center at Tufts University to see how Center Director Michael Levin and his colleagues are working to read and write the morphogenetic code. This is the code that dictates how networks of cells organize to form tissues, limbs and entire organisms. The ability to read and write this code would have transformative implications for not only biology and medicine but many other disciplines.
Florida’s First NSF-funded AI and Deep Learning Laboratory
Florida Atlantic University has received a $652,820 grant from the National Science Foundation (NSF) to establish Florida’s first NSF-funded Major Research Instrumentation (MRI) Artificial Intelligence and Deep Learning (AIDL) Training and Research Laboratory.
Novel Water Testing Technique!
In this week’s episode, we learn how AI uncovers insights into cancer, how loops give toughness to spider silk, discover a newly released database of stars and finally, we investigate a novel water testing technique. Check it out!