Dec 30, 2022

#14 Michael Levin — Our Body is a Collection of Intelligent Organisms

Posted by in categories: biotech/medical, life extension

How do our bodies know what to become?

There are no instructions in our genes that code for the exact 3D structure of our bodies. There’s no tiny human contained in our DNA. So, what powers the transformation of the first cell in the embryo to a full-blown organism?

Dr Michael Levin is attacking this problem and, in the process of answering it, his lab is uncovering an entirely new way of looking at biology.

== What we talk about ==
0:04 — Introduction.
1:20 — You were a software engineer. How did you get interested in biology?
6:50 — Can bacteria exhibit intelligent behavior?
7:46 — How do organisms take their final shape?
22:51 — How do cells in our body know when to stop multiplying?
27:49 — Analogs of software and hardware in developmental biology.
34:20 — Where are the body plans stored in complex organisms like ours?
43:33 — What post-DNA paradigms are important in biology?
48:20 — What is regenerative medicine?
50:20 — How far have we progressed in regenerative medicine?
52:52 — Xenobots: world’s first synthetic organisms.
1:00:12 — How to program Xenobots.
1:05:13 — How do you handle the ethical dilemma while you are working with conscious organisms?
1:10:22 — How do you enable the scientific creativity in your lab and amongst your students? And is it a teachable skill?

== About the guest ==
Michael Levin is a Distinguished Professor in the Biology department at Tufts and serves as director of the Allen Discovery Center. He holds a PhD in biology from the Harvard University. At Tufts, his research group is interested in figuring out how our bodies know what to become.

He believes that what guides our body plans is bio-electric communication between different units. Our bodies take shape the way they have because each of our subunits — cells, tissues, organs — collectively decides it to be that way.

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