A photo of Aaron Zorn.

Aaron M. Zorn, PhD

  • Perinatal Institute Endowed Research Chair
  • Co-Director, Center for Stem Cell and Organoid Medicine (CuSTOM)
  • Director, Division of Developmental Biology
  • Associate Director, Digestive Health Center
  • Professor, UC Department of Pediatrics



Aaron M. Zorn, PhD, leads the Zorn lab with the research goal to understand the embryonic development respiratory and digestive systems. We use a combination of animal models and human pluripotent stem cells to investigate the genetic pathways underlying organ formation. The research in this lab helps our understanding of congenital diseases and the ability to generate organoids - human organ tissue in a dish, for regenerative medicine.

BSc: University of Toronto, Canada.

PhD: University of Texas, Austin, Texas, 1995.

Postdoctoral: Wellcome Trust Cancer Research Campaign Institute, University of Cambridge, Cambridge, England, 1996-1999.

Research Fellow: Wellcome Trust Gurdon Institute, Universtiy of Cambridge, Cambridge, England, 1999-2002.


Development of lung, liver, pancreas and gastrointestinal tract; vertebrate embryology

Learn more about CuSTOM.

Research Areas

Developmental Biology



Single cell transcriptomics identifies a signaling network coordinating endoderm and mesoderm diversification during foregut organogenesis. Han, L; Chaturvedi, P; Kishimoto, K; Koike, H; Nasr, T; Iwasawa, K; Giesbrecht, K; Witcher, PC; Eicher, A; Haines, L; Morimoto, M; Wells, JM; Takebe, T; Zorn, AM. Nature Communications. 2020; 11:4158.


Sox17 and β-catenin co-occupy Wnt-responsive enhancers to govern the endoderm gene regulatory network. Mukherjee, S; Chaturvedi, P; Rankin, SA; Fish, MB; Wlizla, M; Paraiso, KD; MacDonald, M; Chen, X; Weirauch, MT; Blitz, IL; Cho, KW Y; Zorn, AM. eLife. 2020; 9:e58029.


Endosome-Mediated Epithelial Remodeling Downstream of Hedgehog-Gli Is Required for Tracheoesophageal Separation. Nasr, T; Mancini, P; Rankin, SA; Edwards, NA; Agricola, ZN; Kenny, AP; Kinney, JL; Daniels, K; Vardanyan, J; Han, L; Trisno, SL; Cha, S; Wells, JM; Kofron, MJ; Zorn, AM. Developmental Cell. 2019; 51:665-674.e6.


Modelling human hepato-biliary-pancreatic organogenesis from the foregut-midgut boundary. Koike, H; Iwasawa, K; Ouchi, R; Maezawa, M; Giesbrecht, K; Saiki, N; Ferguson, A; Kimura, M; Thompson, WL; Wells, JM; Zorn, AM; Takebe, T. Nature. 2019; 574:112-116.


Esophageal Organoids from Human Pluripotent Stem Cells Delineate Sox2 Functions during Esophageal Specification. Trisno, SL; Philo, KE D; McCracken, KW; Cata, EM; Ruiz-Torres, S; Rankin, SA; Han, L; Nasr, T; Chaturvedi, P; Rothenberg, ME; Mandegar, MA; Wells, SI; Zorn, AM; Wells, JM. Cell Stem Cell. 2018; 23:501-515.e7.


Genomic integration of Wnt/β-catenin and BMP/Smad1 signaling coordinates foregut and hindgut transcriptional programs. Stevens, ML; Chaturvedi, P; Rankin, SA; Macdonald, M; Jagannathan, S; Yukawa, M; Barski, A; Zorn, AM. Development (Cambridge). 2017; 144:1283-1295.


A Retinoic Acid-Hedgehog Cascade Coordinates Mesoderm-Inducing Signals and Endoderm Competence during Lung Specification. Rankin, SA; Han, L; McCracken, KW; Kenny, AP; Anglin, CT; Grigg, EA; Crawford, CM; Wells, JM; Shannon, JM; Zorn, AM. Cell Reports. 2016; 16:66-78.


Suppression of Bmp4 signaling by the zinc-finger repressors Osr1 and Osr2 is required for Wnt/β-catenin-mediated lung specification in Xenopus. Rankin, SA; Gallas, AL; Neto, A; Luis Gomez-Skarmeta, J; Zorn, AM. Development (Cambridge). 2012; 139:3010-3020.


Sizzled-tolloid interactions maintain foregut progenitors by regulating fibronectin-dependent BMP signaling. Kenny, AP; Rankin, SA; Allbee, AW; Prewitt, AR; Zhang, Z; Tabangin, ME; Shifley, ET; Louza, MP; Zorn, AM. Developmental Cell. 2012; 23:292-304.


Directed differentiation of human pluripotent stem cells into intestinal tissue in vitro. Spence, JR; Mayhew, CN; Rankin, SA; Kuhar, MF; Vallance, JE; Tolle, K; Hoskins, EE; Kalinichenko, VV; Wells, SI; Zorn, AM; Shroyer, NF; Wells, JM. Nature. 2011; 470:105-109.