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.

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  • Zebrafish Model of Hematopoiesis and Cancer

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