Established in 2006, IRM is a locus for interdisciplinary research involving faculty from more than 25 departments in five schools to advance the field of regenerative medicine. As IRM associate director, Zaret worked with
"I am confident that Dr. Zaret will bring his solid knowledge and experience in developmental and stem cell biology, as well as epigenetics, to lead the
"In the next phase of the Institute, I aim to coalesce new discoveries, technologies, and ethical perspectives to create important scientific and clinical advances, especially in the areas of digestive tissue regeneration, cancer diagnosis and targeting, and skin repair, with additional focus on musculoskeletal, nervous system, and cardiovascular repair," said Zaret.
He earned his PhD degree from the
The goal of his research program has been to understand how genes are activated to specify different cell types during embryonic development. Zaret's lab discovered a basis for the normal path of development in different tissue types by identifying pioneer transcription factors that engage target genes in progenitor cells, early in the development process. He established the use of mammalian embryonic endoderm cells as an experimental system and used them to discover signals that induce liver and pancreas tissue in the embryo. These discoveries are now used by others in regenerative medicine to identify specific types of stem cells for therapies and research.
His lab discovered that endothelial cells possess a direct signaling role in promoting liver and pancreas development, a finding that colleagues use to enhance artificial organ development. While investigating the basis by which cells resist being reprogrammed, the Zaret lab also found large areas on chromosomes that physically block the binding of regulatory factors, which must be overcome to allow cell reprogramming.
Recently, his lab used stem-cell technology to reprogram human pancreatic cancer cells to develop an experimental model to recreate and study early stages of the disease.
Zaret has written or cowritten nearly 100 peer-reviewed research articles, as well as numerous book chapters. He has been an editor of the journals Molecular and Cellular Biology and Development; chaired international scientific meetings; and served on numerous scientific advisory boards for academia, biotech/pharma, and the
Among numerous professional accolades, he has received a MERIT award from NIGMS, the Hans Popper Basic Science Award from the
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