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Science on Screen: Young Frankenstein with Developmental Biologist Dany Adams

Director Mel Brooks’ inspired parody stars Gene Wilder as Frederick Frankenstein, who tries to live down his family’s reputation by pronouncing his name “Fronkensteen” and rejecting his grandfather’s infamous experiments in the reanimation of dead tissue (“My grand­father … was a very … sick … man"). But when he is forced to visit the old family castle in Transylvania and discovers granddad’s lab journal (“How I Did It” by Victor Frankenstein), he embraces his destiny: to succeed where his ancestor failed. With the help of a salvaged corpse, a purloined brain, and an electrical storm, Frederick creates his monster (Peter Boyle) and brings him to life, with hilariously unintended consequences. Adding to the fun are Marty Feldman as bug-eyed hunchback Igor, Teri Garr as voluptuous lab assistant Inga, Cloris Leachman as fearsome housekeeper Frau Blücher (cue horse whinny), and Madeline Kahn as Frederick’s high-strung fiancée.

Before the film, Dr. Dany Adams, a principal investigator at the Tufts Center for Regenerative and Developmental Biology, shares how scientists are taking a centuries-old concept - electricity’s potential for regeneration – in fascinating new directions. Adams and her colleagues are investigating how the natural electrical signals that are transmitted among cells help guide biological shape, and how these signals may be manipulated to generate specific organs and body parts. By tweaking bioelectric properties, Tufts scientists have prompted tadpoles to sprout new tails past the normal stage of regeneration and produced all manner of odd creatures: tadpoles with working eyes on their backs, four-headed flatworms, frogs sprouting toes at the site of an amputated leg. Applied to humans, these techniques could one day be used to regenerate lost limbs, replace damaged organs, repair birth defects, and more.

More information at Tickets are $10 general admission/$8 students, seniors, and Museum of Science members/free for Coolidge members.

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