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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 liver, pancreas and gastrointestinal tract, which are derived from the embryonic endoderm.
We use frog and mouse embryos to investigate the genetic pathways underlying this poorly understood process of organ formation. 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 such as the liver.
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.
Focusing on the transcription factor Sox17 we are investigating how the embryonic endoderm is made during gastrulation.
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.
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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.
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