Alejandro Sánchez Alvarado's laboratory group has employed molecular tools to investigate old questions about regeneration and as a result have identified some of the molecular mechanisms determining polarity. Recent work by his group has shown Wnt-β-catenin signaling determines whether a tail or a head will form during regeneration in planarians. This study was motivated by work Thomas Hunt Morgan conducted in the late nineteenth century. Morgan observed that during regeneration a planarian cut into rather small pieces would sometimes regenerate a head at both its anterior and posterior end rather than a head and a tail. This led Morgan to think the size of the piece must affect the regenerative process.

Alejandro Sánchez Alvarado is a Professor of Neurobiology and Anatomy at the University of Utah School of Medicine and is also a Howard Hughes Medical Institute Investigator. Born in Caracas, Venezuela, 24 February 1964, Sánchez Alvarado left his home to pursue education in the United States, where he received a Bachelor of Science in molecular biology and chemistry from Vanderbilt University in 1986 and a Doctorate in pharmacology and cell biophysics at the University of Cincinnati College of Medicine in 1992. During his PhD studies Sánchez Alvarado examined the in vitro differentiation of mouse embryonic stem cells. In 1994 he began a postdoctoral position at the Carnegie Institution of Washington's Department of Embryology, where he was appointed a staff associate in 1995. In 2002 he became an Associate Professor at the University of Utah School of Medicine in the Department of Neurobiology and Anatomy, and was promoted to Professor in 2005.