Dr. Thomas Lozito is an Assistant Professor, Center for Cellular and Molecular Engineering, Department of Orthopaedic Surgery, University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine. Dr. Lozito received his BS in Biomedical Engineering from Johns Hopkins University and his PhD in Stem Cell Biology from the University of Cambridge.
A summary of Dr. Lozito’s research interests reads:
The ability to regenerate damaged or lost tissues has remained the lofty goal of regenerative medicine. Unfortunately, humans, like most mammals, suffer from very minimal natural regenerative capabilities. My lab studies organisms with heightened healing capabilities with the goal of recreating these regenerative processes in mammals. My background in engineering and training in stem cell biology has resulted in a unique approach in tackling this goal. My lab identifies specific stages at which mammalian regeneration diverges and the cell types responsible. These findings educate our choices of regenerative model organisms, which are used as “blueprints” for overcoming hurdles in mammalian wound healing. For example, I have worked to develop lizards as novel model organisms for investigating wound healing and regeneration in higher vertebrates. Lizards exhibit the remarkable ability to regenerate amputated tails, making them the closest relatives of mammals to display enhanced healing abilities as adults. Unlike salamanders, lizards are unable to regrow lost limbs, distinguishing lizards as the only vertebrates to combine regenerative tissues (i.e. tail) and non-regenerative tissues (i.e. limbs) in the same animal. Furthermore, regenerated lizard tails are “imperfect” replicates because they lack the dorsoventral patterning and segmentation exhibited in the original tail. Finally, lizard, but not salamander, cells survive the same temperature and osmotic ranges as mammalian cells, making lizards the only regenerative animal whose cells and tissues can be directly co-cultured with those of mammals. These attributes specify lizards as unique and powerful model organisms for studying and manipulating adult regeneration. My current research takes advantage of the unique aspects of lizard wound healing and focuses on the following topics:
Comparisons of lizard and salamander tail regeneration to answer the question, “Why don’t lizards regenerate perfect tails like salamanders?”
Investigations of the cellular origins of regenerated lizard tails to determine whether newly formed tail tissues derive from resident stem cell populations or from de-differentiated somatic cells.
Autogeneic application of cells, tissue, and growth factors isolated from regenerative lizard tails to improve the healing capacities of non-regenerative lizard limbs.
Xenogeneic transplantation of lizard regeneration-inducing tissues into mammalian (mouse) skeletal injury sites.
Most recently, Dr. Lozito received numerous honors including:
Featured Scientist, The Node (2016)
Travel Award, 2015 Annual Meeting of the Society for Developmental Biology (2015)
Outstanding Poster Award, Cartilage Biology and Pathology Gordon Conference (2015)
Invited Speaker, Cartilage Biology and Pathology Gordon Conference (2015)
Travel Award, Musculoskeletal Development and Regeneration Symposium (2015)
Also, in 2016 as Principal Investigator Dr. Lozito received a $1.4 million NIH grant. The work is entitled “Why Don’t Lizards Regenerate Perfect Tails Like Salamanders?” Dr. Lozito has 1 international patent pending.
View a list of Dr. Lozito’s publications here.