lzon's picture

Main Profile

Full Name and Degrees: 
Leonard I. Zon, M.D.
Member Role: 
Affiliated Investigator
Institutional affiliation: 
Harvard University
Additional links: 
Hub Site: 
17-Kit Parker
research focus: 

Dr. Zon's laboratory uses the zebrafish as a model system for understanding vertebrate blood development. Zebrafish blood formation is similar to that of humans, and several mutants have disorders resembling human disease. It is possible to evaluate in the zebrafish genetic pathways important for vertebrate hematopoiesis. Dr. Zon also uses the zebrafish to study cancer.

He chose the zebrafish because:

  • embryo is completely clear, providing a "real-time" view of all organs and systems
  • extremely fecund--each mother lays 200-300 eggs weekly
  • thrifty--a large number of animals can be kept in a relatively small space
  • has several naturally occurring mutants that mirror human anemias

His lab has accomplished several things including:

  • spearheading successful effort to sequence zebrafish genome
  • isolated and cloned the gene responsible for a congenital anemia
  • identified a gene--cdx4--which, in concert with hox, is pivotal in hematopoiesis
  • discovered a small molecule that increases blood stem cell engraftment
  • created screen for genetic mutations affecting cell proliferation and cancer
Recent publications: 
1) Resolving the controversy about N-cadherin and hematopoietic stem cells. Li P, Zon LI. Cell Stem Cell. 2010 Mar 5; 6(3):199-202. [[http://www.cell.com/cell-stem-cell/abstract/S1934-5909%2810%2900051-2|Abstract]]2) Swimming into the future of drug discovery: in vivo chemical screens in zebrafish. Bowman TV, Zon LI. ACS Chem Biol. 2010 Feb 19; 5(2):159-61. [[http://pubs.acs.org/doi/abs/10.1021/cb100029t|Abstract]]3) High-throughput cell transplantation establishes that tumor-initiating cells are abundant in zebrafish T-cell acute lymphoblastic leukemia. Smith AC, Raimondi AR, Salthouse CD, Ignatius MS, Blackburn JS, Mizgirev IV, Storer NY, de Jong JL, Chen AT, Zhou Y, Revskoy S, Zon LI, Langenau DM. Blood. 2010 Jan 7. [[http://bloodjournal.hematologylibrary.org/cgi/content/short/blood-2009-10-246488v1|Abstract]]4) Goessling W, North TE, Loewer S, Lord AM, Lee S, Stick-Cooper CL, Weidinger G, Puder M, Daley GQ, Moon RT, and Zon LI.  Genetic interaction of PGE2 and wnt signaling regulates developmental specification of stem cells and regeneration.  Cell, 2009 Mar 20; 136(6):1136-46. [[http://www.cell.com/abstract/S0092-8674%2809%2900022-1|Abstract]]5) North TE, Goessling W, Peeters M, Li P, Ceol C, Lord AM, Weber GJ, Harris J, Cutting CC, Huang P, Dzierzak E, and Zon LI.  Hematopoietic stem cell development is dependent on blood flow. Cell, 2009, May 15; 137(4):736-748. [[http://www.cell.com/abstract/S0092-8674%2809%2900448-6|Abstract]]6) Zebrafish tumor assays: the state of transplantation. Taylor AM, Zon LI. Zebrafish. 2009 Dec; 6(4):339-46. [[http://zfin.org/cgi-bin/webdriver?MIval=aa-pubview2.apg&OID=ZDB-PUB-100112-10|Abstract]]
300 Longwood Avenue, Karp-7, Boston MA 02115
(617) 919-2069
(617) 730-0222
Profile Page Photo: 
Leonard I. Zon, M.D.

Copyright ©2013 NHLBI Progenitor Cell Biology Consortium.

University of Maryland School of Medicine logo

National Heart Blood and Lung Institute logo