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

Science Blog


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.


Xenbase: deep integration of GEO & SRA RNA-seq and ChIP-seq data in a model organism database. Fortriede, JD; Pells, TJ; Chu, S; Chaturvedi, P; Wang, D; Fisher, ME; James-Zorn, C; Wang, Y; Nenni, MJ; Burns, KA; et al. Nucleic Acids Research. 2020; 48:D776-D782.

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; et al. 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; et al. Nature. 2019; 574:112-116.

Novel vectors for functional interrogation of Xenopus ORFeome coding sequences. Sterner, ZR; Rankin, SA; Wlizla, M; Choi, JA; Luedeke, DM; Zorn, AM; Buchholz, DR. Genesis: the Journal of Genetics and Development. 2019; 57.

Xenbase: Facilitating the Use of Xenopus to Model Human Disease. Nenni, MJ; Fisher, ME; James-Zorn, C; Pells, TJ; Ponferrada, V; Chu, S; Fortriede, JD; Burns, KA; Wang, Y; Lotay, VS; et al. Frontiers in Physiology. 2019; 10.

Evolutionarily conserved Tbx5-Wnt2/2b pathway orchestrates cardiopulmonary development. Steimle, JD; Rankin, SA; Slagle, CE; Bekeny, J; Rydeen, AB; Chan, SS-K; Kweon, J; Yang, XH; Ikegami, K; Nadadur, RD; et al. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of USA. 2018; 115:E10615-E10624.

FOXF1 transcription factor promotes lung morphogenesis by inducing cellular proliferation in fetal lung mesenchyme. Ustiyan, V; Bolte, C; Zhang, Y; Han, L; Xu, Y; Yutzey, KE; Zorn, AM; Kalin, TV; Shannon, JM; Kalinichenko, VV. Developmental Biology. 2018; 443:50-63.

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; et al. Cell Stem Cell. 2018; 23:501-515.e7.

Organoid Center Strategies for Accelerating Clinical Translation. Takebe, T; Wells, JM; Helmrath, MA; Zorn, AM. Cell Stem Cell. 2018; 22:806-809.

Timing is everything: Reiterative Wnt, BMP and RA signaling regulate developmental competence during endoderm organogenesis. Rankin, SA; McCracken, KW; Luedeke, DM; Han, L; Wells, JM; Shannon, JM; Zorn, AM. Developmental Biology. 2018; 434:121-132.