A photo of Aaron Zorn.

Perinatal Institute Endowed Research Chair

Director, Center for Stem Cell and Organoid Medicine (CuSTOM)
Associate Director, Division of Developmental Biology
Associate Director, Digestive Health Center

Professor, UC Department of Pediatrics



Biography & Affiliation


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.

Research Interests

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

Learn more about CuSTOM.

Academic Affiliation

Professor, UC Department of Pediatrics


Developmental Biology


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.


Nolan K, Kattamuri C, Luedeke D, Deng A, Jagpal A, Zhang F, Linhardt R, Kenny AP, Zorn AM, Thompson TB. Structure of Protein Related to DAN and Cerberus (PRDC): Insights into the Mechanism of BMP Antagonism. Structure. 2013 Aug 6;21(8):1417-29.

Zhang Z, Rankin, SA, Zorn AM. Different thresholds of Wnt-Frizzled 7 signaling coordinate proliferation, morphogenesis and fate of endodermal progenitor cells. Dev Bio. 2013 Jun 1;378(1):1-12.

Bowes JB, Snyder KA, James-Zorn C, Ponferrada VG, Jarabek CJ, Burns KA, Bhattacharyya B, Zorn AM, Vize PD. The Xenbase literature curation process. Database (Oxford).2013 Jan 9;2013:bas046.

James-Zorn C, Ponferrada VG, Jarabek CJ, Burns KA, Segerdell EJ, Lee J, Snyder K, Bhattacharyya B, Karpinka JB, Fortriede J, Bowes JB, Zorn AM, Vize PD. Xenbase: expansion and updates of the Xenopus model organism database. Nucleic Acids Res. . 2013 Jan;41:D865-70.

Kattamuri C, Luedeke DM, Nolan K, Rankin SA, Greis KD, Zorn AM, Thompson TB. Members of the DAN Family are BMP Antagonists that form Highly Stable Noncovalent Dimers. J Mol Biol. 2012 Dec 14;424(5):313-27.

Shifley ET, Kenny AP, Rankin SA, Zorn AM. Prolonged FGF signaling is necessary for lung and liver induction in Xenopus. BMC Dev Bio. 2012 Sep 18;12:27.

Kenny AP, Rankin SA, Allbee AW, Prewitt AR, Zhang Z, Shifley E, Louza M, Zorn AM. Sizzled-Tolloid interactions maintain foregut progenitors by regulating Fibronectin-dependent BMP signaling. Dev Cell. 2012 Aug 14;23(2):292-304.

Rankin SA, Neto A, Gallas A, Gómez-Skarmeta JL, Zorn AM. Suppression of Bmp4 signaling by the zinc-finger repressors Osr1 and Osr2 is required for Wnt/beta-catenin-mediated lung specification in Xenopus. Development. 2012 Aug;139:3010-20.

Ponferrada VG, Fan J, Vallance JE, Hu S, Mamedova A, Rankin SA, Kofron M, Zorn AM, Hegde RS, Lang RA. CRIM1 Complexes with ß-catenin and Cadherins, Stabilizes Cell-Cell Junctions and Is Critical for Neural Morphogenesis. PLoS One. 2012;7(3):e32635.

Rankin SA, Zorn AM, Buchholz RD. New doxycycline-inducible transgenic lines in Xenopus. Dev Dyn. 2011 June;240(6):1467-74.

Rankin SA, Kormish J, Jegga, A Kofron M, Zorn AM. A gene regulatory network controlling hhex transcription in the anterior endoderm of the organizer. Dev Bio. 2011 Mar 15;351(2):297-310.

Spence JR, Mayhew CN, Rankin SA, Kuhar MF, Vallance JE, Tolle K, Hoskins EE, Kalinichenko VV, Wells SI, Zorn AM, Shroyer NF, Wells JM. Directed differentiation of human pluripotent stem cells into intestinal tissue in vitro. Nature 2011. Feb 3;470:105-9.