Digestive Health Center

  • Development and Digestive Diseases

    Aaron M. Zorn, PhD
    Associate Professor
    Associate Director, Digestive Health Center
    Department of Pediatrics; Division of Developmental Biology
    Visit the Zorn Lab Site

    Description of Research

    Dr. Zorn’s long-term research goal is to understand the molecular mechanisms controlling the development of the liver, pancreas and gastrointestinal tract, which are derived from the embryonic endoderm. He uses frog and mouse embryos as model systems to investigate the genetic pathways underlying this poorly understood process of organogenesis. Dr. Zorn is applying a combination of molecular and embryological techniques, including microarray technology and transgenics, to uncover the molecular and cellular events controlling foregut organ development. Current investigations examine how transcription factors integrate signals from different growth factors to specify foregut progenitor cells and their development into the embryonic liver. He is also conducting a number of functional screens to identify novel genes involved in GI development. This research will help uncover the molecular basis of congenital diseases in these organ systems and the ability to regenerate therapeutically useful tissues from stem cells.

    Collaborations

    The Zorn lab collaborates extensively with Dr. Wells and his research team to translate embryological principles uncovered from animal models to the directed differentiation of human stem cells. Anticipated Core use: Integrative Morphology Core, Gene and Protein Expression Core, and Bioinformatics Core.

 
  • Research image.

    click image to enlarge

    Research image.

    Expression of a hhex:gfp transgene marks the foregut progenitor cells in a Xenopus embryo. Figure in a manuscript submitted for publication.