Cells face a continual struggle between life and death, fought at the biochemical level between pro-death and pro-survival stimuli. Denise Montell's lab has recently discovered a surprising reversibility of the cell suicide process known as apoptosis. Cells that have progressed far beyond steps previously considered to be points of no return can reverse the dying process, recover and go on to proliferate. This has both positive and negative consequences. We are testing the hypothesis that the ability of cells to return from the brink of death – which we have named anastasis (Greek: "rising to life") - serves to salvage cells that are difficult to replace such as heart muscle cells or neurons in the adult brain. Therefore discovering how to enhanceanastasis holds the potential to lead to revolutionary new therapies for heart and neurodegenerative diseases.