Leonard Ira Zon

Leonard Ira Zon

Professor of Stem Cell and Regenerative Biology
Leonard Ira Zon


The laboratory focuses on the developmental biology of hematopoiesis and cancer. We have collected over 30 mutants affecting the hematopoietic system. Some of the mutants represent excellent animal models of human disease. We also have undertaken chemical genetic approach to blood development and have found that prostaglandins stimulates blood stem cell engraftment during transplantation. This has led to a clinical trial to improve engraftment for patients receiving cord blood transplants. We study the immune system of the zebrafish at a single cell level, particularly focusing on interactions with stem cells and the niche. A recent paper investigated the effects of macrophage-stem cell interactions on stem cell clonality using cellular barcoding technologies.

The laboratory has also developed zebrafish models of cancer. We have generated a melanoma model in the zebrafish system using transgenics. Transgenic fish get nevi, and in a combination with a p53 mutant fish develop melanomas. We have mounted a fish with melanoma on a two-photon microscope and image live for 18 hours, watching CD8+ T cells and dendritic cells enter into specific regions of the tumor that we call craters.  The imaging, genetics, and chemical biology of the zebrafish system is ideal for examining the cancer niche.


Contact Information

Boston Children's Hospital / HHMI
Karp Research Building, 5th Floor, Room 5211
1 Blackfan Circle
Boston, MA 02115
p: 617-919-2069