• Zorn Research Lab

    Genetic Networks of Endoderm Organ Development

    The long-term research goal in the Zorn Lab at Cincinnati Children’s Research Foundation is to understand the molecular mechanisms controlling the development of the respiratory and digestive organs including lung, liver, pancreas and the intestine, which are derived from the embryonic endoderm.

    We use frog and mouse embryos to investigate the complex genetic pathways underlying this poorly understood process of organ formation. In particular we investigate how tissue interactions and transcription factors control cell identity in the embryo. This research will help our understanding of congenital diseases in these organ systems and the ability to direct the development of stem cells to make therapeutically useful tissue. We collaborate closely with the Wells Lab and other investigators in the Endoderm Club and in the Digestive Health Center.  We are also involved in developing genomic resources for Xenopus and we help maintain Xenbase: the Xenopus model organism database.

    Our current research focuses on three developmental steps in the progression toward making foregut organs, endoderm specification, endoderm patterning and organ bud formation.

    Postdoctoral and Graduate Students Welcome

    The Zorn Lab trains graduate students who are in the Molecular and Developmental Biology Graduate Program. Potential graduate students can learn more through the Molecular and Developmental Biology Graduate Program website. Learn more here about the postdoctoral positions available or contact Zorn about training opportunities.

  • Endoderm Specification

    Xenopus gastrula.

    Using cutting edge genome scale analysis we are investigating how hundred’s of genes interact in a complex regulatory network to orchestrate of embryonic endoderm development during gastrulation.

    Read More About Endoderm Specification
  • Endoderm Patterning

    Endoderm Patterning.

    Once the endoderm is specified, we are examining the growth factors and transcription factors that pattern the endoderm instructing some cells to become the foregut containing the liver pancreas and lung precursors.

    Read More About Endoderm Patterning
  • Zorn Lab group photo.

    Click to enlarge.

  • Organ Formation

    Liver Formation.

    Early in development some of the cells in the developing foregut are induced to become liver. We are investigating the genetic basis of this poorly understood process.

    Read More About Liver Formation
  • In the News

    Aaron Zorn, PhD's head shot.
    “It turns out that the liver, pancreas and lung originate from a common set of progenitors in the early embryo,” Zorn says. “But how do these cells learn where they are supposed to go? It is clear that many, many decisions are being made right from the beginning of embryogenesis.”

    Read the entire article in Research Horizons.