A photo of James Wells, PhD.

Director for Research, Division of Endocrinology

Chief Scientific Office, Center for Stem Cell and Organoid Medicine (CuSTOM)

Professor, UC Department of Pediatrics



My Biography & Research


The focus of his teams basic research has been to identify the molecular mechanisms involved in the embryonic development of endocrine cells including pancreatic beta cells and tissues of the gastrointestinal tract. Their translational projects have focused on identifying new approaches to improve child health in several ways: 1. To identify and use embryonic pathways to generate complex, three-dimensional organ tissues from pluripotent stem cells, 2. Use these tissues to develop new in vitro human models for diabetes and digestive disease research and 3. Develop long-term, therapeutic strategies for cell and tissue-replacement therapies.

Research Interests

Understanding the development of the pancreas, and gastrointestinal organs; generating 3-dimensional human tissues from pluripotent stem cells and using these as human models of diabetes and digestive disease.

For more information, please visit the CuSTOM web page.

Academic Affiliation

Professor, UC Department of Pediatrics


Endocrinology, Endocrinology, Developmental Biology

My Education

BS: Biochemistry, Molecular and Cell Biology, University of Maine, Orono, ME, 1987.

PhD: Graduate program in Genetics, SUNY at Stony Brook, New York, 1995.

Postdoctoral Fellow: Harvard University, Cambridge MA, 1996 - 2001. 

My Publications

McCracken KW, Catá E, Crawford C, Sinagoga KL, Schumacher M, Mayhew CN, Zavros Y, Wells JM. Modelling human development and disease in pluripotent stem cell-derived gastric organoids. Nature. 2014 Dec 18;516(7531):400-4.

Watson CL, Mahe MM, Howell JC, Munera J, Sundaram N, Schweitzer J, Vallance JE, Shroyer NF, Wells JM, Helmrath MA. An in vivo model of human small intestine using pluripotent stem cells. Nat Med. 2014 Nov;20(11):1310-4.

Ji H, Zhang X, Oh S, Mayhew C, Ulm A, Somineni H, Ericksen M, Wells J, Khurana Hershey GK. Dynamic transcriptional and epigenomic reprogramming from pediatric nasal epithelial cells to induced pluripotent stem cells. J Allergy Clin Immunol. 2014 Oct 14, pii:S0091-6749(14)01262-7.

Chlon TM, Hoskins EE, Mayhew CN, Wikenheiser-Brokamp KA, Davies SM, Mehta P, Myers KC, Wells JM, Wells, SI. High-Risk Human Papillomavirus E6 Protein Promotes Reprogramming of Fanconi Anemia Patient Cells through Repression of p53 but Does Not Allow for Sustained Growth of Induced Pluripotent Stem Cells. J Virol. 2014 Oct 1;88(19)11315-26.

Jonatan D, Spence JR, Method AM, Sinagoga K, Kofron M, Haataja L, Arvan P, Deutsch GH, Wells JM.  Sox17 regulates insulin secretion in the normal and pathologic beta cell. PLoS One. 2014 Aug 21;9(8):e104675.

Schiesser JV, Wells JM. Generation of beta cells from human pluripotent stem cells: are we there yet? Ann N Y Acad Sci. 2014 Apr;1311:124-37.

Runck LA, Method A, Bischoff A, Levitt M, Peña A, Collins MH, Gupta A, Shanmukhappa S, Wells JM, Guasch G. Defining the molecular pathologies in cloaca malformation: similarities between mouse and human. Dis Model Mech. 2014 Apr;7(4):483-93.

Wells JM, Spence JR. How to make an intestine. Development. 2014 Feb;141(4):752-60.

Delgiorno KE, Hall JC, Takeuchi KK, Pan FC, Halbrook CJ, Washington MK, Olive KP, Spence JR, Sipos B, Wright CV, Wells JM, Crawford HC. Identification and manipulation of biliary metaplasia in pancreatic tumors. Gastroenterology. 2014 Jan;146(1):233-44.e5.

Suissa Y, Magenheim J, Stolovich-Rain M, Hija A, Collombat P, Mansouri A, Sussel L, Sosa-Pineda B, McCracken K, Wells JM, Heller RS, Dor Y, Glaser B. Gastrin: a distinct fate of neurogenin3 positive progenitor cells in the embryonic pancreas. PLoS One. 2013 Aug 5;8(8):e70397.