Tufts University  |  School of Arts and Sciences  |  Department of Biology  |  Find People  | 
   

Welcome to the Levin lab: investigating information storage and processing in biological systems

  1. We focus on information in biological tissues, analyzing morphogenetic systems as cognitive agents that know their shape and make decisions about pattern regulation. We use techniques of artificial intelligence and neuroscience to find out what information cells have and how they store and communicate it among themselves. Our focus on algorithmic (constructivist) computer models of patterning is an important component of linking genetic networks to complex 3-dimensional shape and its regulation in vivo.
  2. We study bioelectrical signals that make up part of the language by which cell activities are orchestrated into the complex patterning needs of the host organism. These natural voltage gradients exist in all cells (not just neurons), and we have used a convergence of genetics, biophysics, and molecular physiology to develop new tools to track and manipulate these biophysical conversations between cells and tissues. The results have yielded important findings about basic patterning as well as new strategies to induce regenerative repair.
  3. We have projects in development, regeneration, and cancer, as well as in the plasticity of the brain and its connection to somatic tissues. These fields are treated as distinct by most labs, funding bodies, and educational units, but we span them because we are seeking the most fundamental aspects of biological regulation, and we believe that common rules of information processing are used throughout these aspects of biology. While our work will eventually give rise to practical applications in bioengineering or biomedicine, we are fundamentally interested in synthetic biology and artificial life – the understanding of living systems as cohesive, computational entities that process information about their shape.

Learn more about new directions in our thinking >

Photo credit: Image is modified after "The Neurologist" by Jose Perez