Jessica Whited’s laboratory is dedicated to understanding limb regeneration in axolotl salamanders. Her work focuses on developing genetic tools to manipulate gene expression at specific points in time during limb regeneration, and exploring early signaling events following wound healing that initiate the regenerative process.
Jessica Whited earned a B.A. in Philosophy and a B.S. in Biological Sciences from the University of Missouri. She obtained her Ph.D. in Biology from MIT, where she studied in Dr. Paul Garrity’s laboratory. Her thesis focused on molecular mechanisms controlling the development and maintenance of cellular architectures in the Drosophila nervous system. In carrying out this research, Dr. Whited became interested in processes that may be required long after initial developmental events to ensure cells do not revert to immature behaviors, as well as processes that provoke such events in response to injury.
Dr. Whited worked in the laboratory of Dr. Cliff Tabin (Harvard Medical School Department of Genetics) as a postdoc studying total limb regeneration in axolotl salamanders. During this work, she developed several molecular tools that can be used to interrogate regenerating axolotl limbs.
Whited ran her first research group at the Brigham Regenerative Medicine Center, BWH Department of Orthopedic Surgery at Harvard Medical School. She joined HSCRB as an assistant professor in 2018.
Carl Zimmer: With some help from salamanders, will humans one day be able to regrow limbs?Read it on STAT
Jessica talks about limb regeneration researchListen on ESPN Radio
Creative Minds: Can Salamanders Show Us How to Regrow Limbs?Read it on the NIH Director’s Blog
Jessica Whited on Limb Regeneration and the Axolotl GenomeRead it in Quanta Magazine
Life-long Passion for Nature, Outdoors Inspires ResearcherRead it in Brigham Clinical and Research News
Experimental Approaches to Developmental Biology
This laboratory course is designed to provide a survey of major topics and contemporary research in developmental and regenerative biology. Students will rotate in the laboratories of DRB faculty across the Harvard campuses and affiliated hospitals. Students engage with faculty and gain hands on experience in a variety of model systems, experimental techniques and research areas. Each day of the course will consist of a lecture followed by hands-on laboratory activities and interactive discussions.
This is an intensive January course. Open to first-year and second-year BBS students;[HDRB undergraduates with approval of the course director]. Not repeatable for credit.
Regeneration: Phenomena to Mechanisms
How can some animals regenerate large pieces of their bodies following injury? This course will use both classical and current primary literature to explore the fascinating process of regeneration across phyla, covering both invertebrates and vertebrates. Students will learn to distill questions into specific, key experiments; to design experiments with meaningful controls; and to use data to refine, reformulate, and develop new hypotheses.
Students will be engaged in group work throughout the semester. They will develop new Wikipedia pages about specific topics related to regeneration. As a final project, they will write and produce short videos centered on student-selected topics, and the course will culminate with a class-wide viewing event.
Building a Human Body: From Gene to Cell to Organism
Through a series of lectures, application exercises and laboratory experiments, we will explore how the human body develops on a molecular level from gene to cell to organ. Ever wonder how you can make heart cells beat in a dish? Why can axolotls regenerate their limbs but humans cannot? How do neurites grow? Can we grow a brain in a cell culture dish? Come join us to discover the answers to these questions and more.