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Dr. Robert Major

Contact Information
Office Hours

EducationMajor 1

BS in Biology—Rider University

PhD in Cell and Developmental Biology—Rutgers University

Postdoc in Regenerative Biology—Duke University Medical Center


Developmental Biology and Regeneration


My laboratory is focused on studying the cellular and molecular mechanisms that govern tissue repair and regeneration. Although humans and other mammals have little or no ability to regenerate large complex tissues, such as those of the nervous system, other organisms exhibit an amazing capacity to do so. By understanding how these model organisms mount successful regenerative responses to injury, we will better understand the reasons for why we lack these abilities. At the heart of this understanding is a potential for greater therapeutic approaches that aid repair of injured and aging human tissues.

Over the past few years, my students and I have taken advantage of the freshwater planarian, a simple flatworm. The planarian has an amazing capacity to completely regenerate lost or damaged tissue even from tiny amputated fragments. We have discovered genes that play roles in stimulating stem cell (neoblast) proliferation and differentiation. Planarians that lack these stem cell genes are incapable of mounting a successful response to injury and fail to carry out normal physiological tissue maintenance. As these genes are conserved in human tissues, we expect that our studies will unveil key components to a tissue repair program in humans.

Major classroom

Weyandt 223 MapPublications

Alarcón, D.I. and Major, R.J. “Restoring Regeneration”  2015 McGraw-Hill Yearbook of Science And Technology.  December 29, 2014  ISBN: 0071835768

Major, R.J.  “Heart Regeneration”  2014 McGraw-Hill Yearbook of Science And Technology. December 23, 2013  ISBN: 0071831061   

Major, R.J. and Poss, K.D.  Zebrafish Heart Regeneration.  Book chapter in Heart Regeneration: Stem Cells and Beyond. World Scientific March 22, 2012.   ISBN: 9814299804

Kikuchi, K., Holdway, J.E., Major, R.J., Blum, N., Dahn, R.D., Begemann, G., and Poss, K.D.  Retinoic Acid Production by Endocardium and Epicardium Is an Injury Response Essential for Zebrafish Heart Regeneration.  Developmental Cell.  2011  20:397-404.

Wills, A.A., Holdway, J.E., Major, R.J., and Poss, K.D. 2008. Regulated addition of new myocardial and epicardial cells fosters homeostatic cardiac growth and maintenance in adult zebrafish. Development. 135:183-192.

Major, R.J., and Poss, K.D. 2007. Zebrafish heart regeneration as a model for cardiac tissue repair. Drug Discovery Today: Disease Models. 4:219-225.

Major, R.J., and Irvine, K.D. 2006. Localization and requirement for Myosin II at the dorsal-ventral compartment boundary of the Drosophila wing. Developmental Dynamics. 235:3051-3058.

Major, R.J., and Irvine, K.D. 2005. Influence of Notch on dorsal-ventral compartmentalization and actin organization in the Drosophila wing. Development. 132:3823-3833.

  • Biology Department
  • Weyandt Hall, Room 114
    975 Oakland Avenue
    Indiana, PA 15705-1081
  • Phone: 724-357-2352
  • Fax: 724-357-5524
  • Office Hours
  • Monday through Friday
  • 7:30 a.m.–12:00 p.m.
  • 1:00 p.m.–4:00 p.m.