Poss Lab

The Poss lab is moving from Duke University to Morgridge Institute and UW-Madison in fall 2024!

Please see https://sites.duke.edu/posslab/ for group info!

Biomedical Imaging

Poss Lab

The Poss Lab aims to elucidate the cellular and molecular mechanisms of innate regeneration in model systems like zebrafish, and to use this information to improve the poor regenerative capacity of human tissues like the heart, spinal cord, and limbs.

Learn more

How and why tissue regeneration does (or does not) occur are critical questions. The biology of regeneration remains both challenging and fascinating, and new discoveries have the potential to impact clinical outcomes of many diseases of organ damage, including heart failure, Alzheimer’s disease, and diabetes.

It has been known for centuries that salamanders and fish regenerate complex tissues much more effectively than mammals. Zebrafish have emerged as a central model system for studying regeneration, due to their ability to regenerate myriad tissues and to the availability of molecular genetic tools. Over the past decade, our laboratory has spearheaded the use of zebrafish to reveal concepts and mechanisms of regeneration.

We study the initial morphogenesis and injury-induced regeneration of several tissues in zebrafish. Our student and postdoc projects investigate adult hearts, fins, spinal cord, skin, scales, and other tissues. We have also begun to test ideas in mammalian models.

Principal Investigator Ken Poss

Ken Poss is Director of Regenerative Biology at Morgridge Institute and Professor of Cell and Regenerative Biology at the University of Wisconsin–Madison (arriving end of 2024). He received his B.A. in Biology from Carleton College and his Ph.D. in Biology from MIT for research with Susumu Tonegawa. Dr. Poss was a postdoctoral fellow with Mark Keating at the University of Utah and Boston Children’s Hospital. From 2003-2024, he led his research program at Duke investigating zebrafish models of regeneration, where he served as James B. Duke Professor of Regenerative Biology and Head of the Duke Regeneration Center. Poss discovered heart regeneration in zebrafish, establishing an important natural model of robust cardiac repair, and his lab has identified key mechanisms of tissue regeneration in this animal model. Recent work from his lab has developed live imaging approaches to regeneration and has discovered regulatory sequences that control regeneration programs, named tissue regeneration enhancer elements.

Learn more