Erin L. Davies, Ph.D.

Erin L. Davies, Ph.D.
NIH Stadtman Investigator

Dr. Davies is investigating the embryonic origin and regulation of adult pluripotent stem cells required for tissue maintenance, whole-body regeneration, and reproduction in planarian flatworms. By studying pluripotency and regeneration as emergent developmental properties, her laboratory will determine how embryonic developmental programs are adapted postnatally for tissue replacement and repair, how these programs may be co-opted to promote cancer initiation or progression.

Areas of Expertise

1) embryogenesis, 2) stem cells, 3) regeneration, 4) reproduction, 5) planaria

Contact Info

Erin L. Davies, Ph.D.
Center for Cancer Research
National Cancer Institute
Building 539, Room 127B
Frederick, MD 21702
Ph: 650-283-5922
  1. Erin L. Davies, Kai Lei, Seidel Christopher W. Seidel, Sean A. McKinney, Amanda E. Kroesen, Long Guo, Sofia M. C. Robb, Eric J. Ross, Kirsten Gotting, Alejandro Sánchez Alvarado.
    eLife. 10.7554/eLife.21052: 2017. [ Journal Article ]
  2. Sustained pluripotency underlies extreme developmental and reproductive plasticity.
    Erin L. Davies and Alejandro Sánchez Alvarado
    In: Deferring Development: Setting Aside Cells for Future Use in Development and Evolution. CRC Press/Taylor & Francis Group 185-196, 2019. [ Journal Article ]
  3. An Zeng, Hua Li, Longhua Guo, Xin Gao, Sean McKinney, Yongfu Wang, Zulin Yu , Jungeun Park, Craig Semerad, Eric Ross, Li-Chun Chen, Erin Davies, Kai Lei, Wei Wang, Anoja Perera, Katherine Hall, Allison Peak, Andrew Box, Alejandro Sánchez Alvarado.
    Cell. 173: 1593 -1608, 2018. [ Journal Article ]

Dr. Davies is a developmental biologist with expertise in genetics, stem cells, germ cell and reproductive biology, and tissue regeneration. As a graduate student in Dr. Margaret Fuller’s lab at Stanford University, she studied how non-cell autonomous signals and cell-intrinsic determinants coordinate adult stem cell behavior in the Drosophila testis stem cell niche.

As a postdoctoral researcher with Dr. Alejandro Sánchez Alvarado at the Stowers Institute for Medical Research, Dr. Davies pioneered molecular and functional studies of embryogenesis in the planarian flatworm, Schmidtea mediterranea, a long-lived animal with seemingly unlimited regenerative potential. Unique among well-established research organisms, planarians possess adult pluripotent stem cells required for tissue homeostasis, whole-body regeneration, and reproduction. Planarian stem cells are highly proliferative, yet planarians neither senesce nor develop cancer. As a Stadtman Investigator, Dr. Davies will leverage the understudied context of planarian embryogenesis to determine the mechanisms underlying establishment of sustained pluripotency and regeneration competence. Her lab’s work will broaden our understanding of potency regulation, growth control, tumor suppression, aging, and tissue regeneration.