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Leonard  Zon, MD

Leonard Zon
Zon Laboratory
Research Center:
Dana-Farber/Boston Children’s Cancer and Blood Disorders Center
Stem Cell Program
Medicine Research
Hematology/Oncology Research
Hospital Title:
Director, Stem Cell Research Program
Academic Title:
Grousbeck Professor of Pediatrics, Harvard Medical School
Research Focus Area:
Zebrafish model of hematopoiesis and cancer
Contact Via Email
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Research Overview

Leonard Zon's laboratory focuses on the use of the zebrafish model for research into hematopoiesis and as a screen for oncogenic genes and proteins. Zon chose the zebrafish because the zebrafish embryo is completely clear, providing a "real-time" view of all organs and systems as they develop. In addition, the species is extremely fecund--each mother lays 200-300 eggs weekly--and thrifty--a large number of animals can be kept in a relatively small space.

Finally, zebrafish have several naturally occurring mutants that mirror human anemias. The Zon laboratory has: Spearheaded the successful effort to sequence the zebrafish genome. Isolated and cloned a gene responsible for congenital anemia. Identified a gene--cdx4--which, in concert with hox, is pivotal in hematopoiesis. Found a chemical that increases blood stem cells. Creates screens for genetic mutations affecting cell proliferation and cancer susceptibility in the zebrafish and for small molecule suppressors of the cancer-susceptible crb cell cycle mutant.

About Leonard Zon

Leonard Zon received his MD degree from Thomas Jefferson University. He completed an internship and residency at New England Deaconess Hospital and a fellowship at the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute. Dr. Zon is a Howard Hughes Medical Institute Investigator.

Key Publications

  • North TE, Goessling W, Walkley CR, Lengerke C, Kopani KR, Lord AM, Weber G, Jang IH, Grosser T, FitzGerald GA, Daley GQ, Orkin SH, and Zon LI. Prostaglandin E2 regulates vertebrate hematopoietic stem cell homeostasis. Nature, 2007, 447:1007-1011.
  • White RM , Sessa A, Burke C, Bowman T, LeBlanc J, Ceol C, Bourque C, Dovey M, Goessling W, Burns CE, Zon LI. Transparent adult zebrafish as a tool for in vivo transplantation analysis. Cell Stem Cell, 2008, 2:183-189.
  • Goessling W, North TE, Loewer S, Lord AM, Sang L, Stoick-Cooper C, Weidinger G, Puder M, Daley GQ, Moon RT, and Zon LI. Genetic interaction between PGE2 and wnt signaling regulates developmental specification of stem cells and regeneration. Cell, 2009 March 20;136:1136-1146.
  • North TE, Goessling W, Peeters M, Li P, Lord AM, Dzierzak E, and Zon LI. Hematopoietic stem cell development is dependent on blood flow and nitric oxide signaling. Cell, 2009, May 15;137(4):736-748.
  • White RM, Cech J, Ratanasirintrawoot S, Lin CY, Rahls PB, Burke CJ, Langdon E, Tomlinson ML, Mosher J, Kaufman C, Chen F, Long HK, Kramer M, Datta S, Neuberg D, Granter S, Young RA, Morrison S, Wheeler GN, and Zon LI.  DHODH modulates transcriptional elongation in the neural crest and melanoma.  Nature. 2011, Mar 24:471, 518-522.
  • Ceol CJ, Houvras Y, Jane-Valbuena J, Bilodeau S, Orlando DA, Battisti V, Fritsch L, Lin WM, Hollmann TJ, Ferre F, Bourque C, Burke C, Turner L, Uong A, Johnson LA, Beroukhim R, Mermel CH, Loda M, Slimane A-S-A, Garraway L, Young RA, and Zon LI.  The histone methyltransferase SETDB1 is currently amplified in melanoma and accelerates its onset.  Nature, 2011, Mar 24:471, 513-517.
  • Trompouki E*, Bowman TV*, Lawton LN, Fan ZP, Wu D-C, DiBiase A, Martin CS, Cech JN, Sessa AK, Leblanc JL, Li P, Durand E, Mosimann C, Heffner GC, Daley GQ, Paulson RF, YoungRA and Zon LI.  Lineage regulators direct BMP and Wnt pathways to cell-specific programs during differentiation and regeneration.  Cell, 2011, October 28:147 (3);577-589.
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Dana-Farber/Boston Children’s Cancer and Blood Disorders Center

Dana-Farber/Boston Children's Cancer and Blood Disorders Center is one of the top research centers in the world for pediatric cancers and blood diseases. It brings together laboratory scientists and clinical researchers from Dana-Farber Cancer Institute and Boston Children’s Hospital in a single program. We investigate pediatric cancers and non-malignant blood disorders from every angle—from examining cells under the microscope to tracking the effectiveness of current drug regimens using the most advanced molecular methods—so that we can create better treatments for children seen here and around the world.

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