text-only page produced automatically by LIFT Text Transcoder Skip all navigation and go to page contentSkip top navigation and go to directorate navigationSkip top navigation and go to page navigation
National Science Foundation Home National Science Foundation - Mathematical & Physical Sciences (MPS)
Physics (PHY)
design element
PHY Home
About PHY
Funding Opportunities
Career Opportunities
Facilities and Centers
PHY Program Director Jobs
See Additional PHY Resources
View PHY Staff
MPS Organizations
Astronomical Sciences (AST)
Chemistry (CHE)
Materials Research (DMR)
Mathematical Sciences (DMS)
Physics (PHY)
Office of Multidisciplinary Activities (OMA)
Proposals and Awards
Proposal and Award Policies and Procedures Guide
Proposal Preparation and Submission
bullet Grant Proposal Guide
  bullet Grants.gov Application Guide
Award and Administration
bullet Award and Administration Guide
Award Conditions
Other Types of Proposals
Merit Review
NSF Outreach
Policy Office
Additional PHY Resources
PHY: Investigator-Initiated Research Projects
Physics in the Mathematical and Physical Sciences
Nuclear Science Advisory Committee (NSAC)
High Energy Physics Advisory Panel (HEPAP)
DCL: Midscale Instrumentation Funding Opportunity
DCL: Announcement of Intent to use an Asynchronous Review Mechanism for Proposals
DCL: Int'l Activities within PHY-Potential Co-Review
PHY COV Report 2012
Response to the PHY COV Report
Other Site Features
Special Reports
Research Overviews
Multimedia Gallery
Classroom Resources
NSF-Wide Investments

Email this pagePrint this page

Press Release 06-112
Flatworms at Forefront of Regeneration Research

Scientists identify gene required for flatworms to maintain their stem cells

Researchers recently identified a key gene that maintains stem cells in planaria.

Researchers recently identified a key gene that maintains stem cells in planaria.
Credit and Larger Version

August 7, 2006

Researchers have identified a gene in planaria--freshwater flatworms renowned for their regenerative abilities--that is key for maintenance of their stem cells. Because planarian stem cells share characteristics with those of humans, the work will aid scientists striving to understand how stem cells can be used to completely repair damaged tissues and organs.

Planaria have been studied for hundreds of years, but modern genomic techniques have given scientists new ways to delve into the molecular biology underlying planarian regeneration.Accordingly, Phillip Newmark and his colleagues at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign (UIUC) used a technique called "RNA interference" to stop a particular gene from producing its encoded protein.Without the protein, the planaria's stem cell population died out, and they lost the ability to regenerate.Now researchers will see if the gene plays a similar role in stem cells from other organisms.

All animals contain stem cells, which are unique because they have no specialized function but can mature into almost any cell type and do almost any job the body requires. In planaria, stem cells are responsible for the animal's ability to regenerate its entire body, even from small very small bits. Planaria are popular for introductory biology experiments because if one is chopped in half, two grow back.In fact, only 1/279th of a planarian is needed to regenerate a complete worm.

Newmark is a CAREER awardee, a National Science Foundation program designed to support the early career-development of those researcher-educators who are deemed most likely to become the academic leaders of the 21st century.

Newmark's work was published in the August issue of Developmental Cell and featured in an August 7 UIUC press release.


Media Contacts
Richard (Randy) Vines, NSF, (703) 292-7963, rvines@nsf.gov
James Kloeppel, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, 217-244-1073, kloeppel@uiuc.edu

Program Contacts
Judith E. Plesset, NSF, (703) 292-8417, jplesset@nsf.gov

Principal Investigators
Phillip Newmark, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, 217-244-4674, pnewmark@uiuc.edu

The National Science Foundation (NSF) is an independent federal agency that supports fundamental research and education across all fields of science and engineering. In fiscal year (FY) 2015, its budget is $7.3 billion. NSF funds reach all 50 states through grants to nearly 2,000 colleges, universities and other institutions. Each year, NSF receives about 48,000 competitive proposals for funding, and makes about 11,000 new funding awards. NSF also awards about $626 million in professional and service contracts yearly.

 Get News Updates by Email 

Useful NSF Web Sites:
NSF Home Page: http://www.nsf.gov
NSF News: http://www.nsf.gov/news/
For the News Media: http://www.nsf.gov/news/newsroom.jsp
Science and Engineering Statistics: http://www.nsf.gov/statistics/
Awards Searches: http://www.nsf.gov/awardsearch/



Email this pagePrint this page
Back to Top of page