James Godwin

Brief biography

Do humans undergo scarring instead of regeneration because of their immune system? What can we learn from natural regeneration that we can use to induce scar-free regeneration in humans?

Finding regenerative strategies capable of faithfully repairing tissues after surgery, disease or traumatic injury will have the potential to transform modern medicine and improve the lives of a limitless number of patients.

In dramatic contrast to the poor repair outcomes for humans and rodent models such as mice, salamanders can completely regenerate sections of the heart, spinal cord, whole limbs, and many other tissues following injury, at any life stage. This astounding capacity for repair provides a template on which to understand the process of natural regeneration and develop strategies to improve human repair.

Dr. Godwin’s work explores the molecular signals from nerve and immune cells that underpin the resistance to scarring, and the activation of regeneration in salamanders.

By identifying knowledge gained in studying the natural process of regeneration in the axolotl salamanders, key insights into the requirements of regeneration have been gained that illuminate the path forward in inducing latent regeneration in mammals. The Godwin lab combines both comparative biology and immunomodulation in salamanders and mice (both MDIBL and JAX locations) to investigate the potential for regeneration in a range of genetic mouse models though a joint appointment with MDIBL and Jackson Laboratory.

Research areas

Aging, Immunology / Inflammation / Hematology, Stem Cells, Regeneration, Wound healing, Mouse digit tip, Axolotl.


  • Dastagir N, Beal Z, Godwin JW. Tissue origin of cytotoxic Natural Killer cells dictates their differential roles in mouse digit tip regeneration and progenitor cell survival. Stem Cell Reports 2022. March 8. PMID: 35120621
  • Debuque, RJ, Hart, AJ, Johnson, GH, Nadia A. Rosenthal, NA, and Godwin, JW. Identification of the Adult Hematopoietic Liver as the Primary Reservoir for the Recruitment of Pro-regenerative Macrophages Required for Salamander Limb Regeneration. Front. Cell Dev. Biol., 22. September 2021. PMID: 34568347
  • Debuque, RJ, Sergej Nowoshilow, S, Chan, KE, Rosenthal, NA, Godwin, JW. Distinct toll-like receptor signaling in the salamander response to tissue damage. Developmental Dynamics. 2021 PMID: 33797128
  • Godwin JW, Debuque R, Salimova E, Rosenthal NA. Heart regeneration in the salamander relies on macrophage-mediated control of fibroblast activation and the extracellular landscape. NPJ Regenerative medicine. 2017; 2. PMID:29201433
  • Godwin JW, Pinto AR, Rosenthal NA. Chasing the recipe for a pro-regenerative immune system. Seminars in cell & developmental biology. 2017; 61:71-79. PMID:27521522
  • Godwin JW. Controlling both the constructive power and the destructive power of inflammation to promote repair and regeneration, p.16. 646p.Regenerative Engineering and Developmental Biology, 1 ed. Gardiner DM, editor. Boca Raton: CRC Press; 2017. Chapter 3,
  • Godwin JW, Rosenthal N. Scar-free wound healing and regeneration in amphibians: immunological influences on regenerative success. Differentiation. 2014 Jan-Feb;87(1-2):66-75. PMID:24565918
  • Godwin JW, Pinto AR, Rosenthal NA. Macrophages are required for adult salamander limb regeneration. PNAS. 2013 Jun 4;110(23):9415-20. PMID:23690624
  • Godwin JW*/Kumar A*, Gates PB, Garza-Garcia AA, Brockes JP. Molecular basis for the nerve dependence of limb regeneration in an adult vertebrate. Science. 2007 Nov 2;318(5851):772-7. PMID:17975060.