BBS Faculty Member - Douglas Melton

Douglas Melton

Department of Stem Cell and Regenerative Biology
Howard Hughes Medical Institute

Harvard Stem Cell Institute
Sherman Fairchild Building, Room 358
7 Divinity Ave.
Cambridge, MA 02138
Tel: 617-495-1812
Fax: 617-495-8557
Visit my lab page here.

Research in our laboratory focuses on the developmental biology of the pancreas. We wish to understand how the pancreas normally develops and use that information to grow and develop pancreatic cells (islets of Langerhans). One goal is to understand how vertebrates make an organ from undifferentiated embryonic cells, including stem cells. A longer-term goal has practical significance: if our studies are successful, it should be possible to apply our conclusions to human cells and provide a source of insulin-producing beta-cells for diabetics.

Our main challenge is to understand the precursor or stem cells that give rise to the pancreas and to characterize the key gene products that specify cell fates and functions during organogenesis. To this end, we use several vertebrate organisms, including frogs and chickens but the majority of our studies are done with mice and human embryonic stem cells. We use a wide variety of techniques, including functional genomics, chemical screening, tissue explants and grafting for analyzing inductive signals, and developmental genetics for direct assays of gene function. The aim of all our experiments is to understand the genes, cells, and tissues that direct pancreatic organogenesis.

Last Update: 8/22/2013


For a complete listing of publications click here.



Stanger BZ, Tanaka AJ, Melton DA. (2007) Organ size is limited by the number of embryonic progenitor cells in the pancreas but not the liver. Nature 445 (7130): 886-91.

Brennand, K., Huangfu, D. and Melton, D. (2007) All beta cells contribute equally to islet growth and maintenance. PLoS Biol 5(7): e163 doi:10.1371/journal.pbio.0050163

Osafune K, Caron L, Borowiak M, Martinez RJ, Fitz-Gerald CS, Sato Y, Cowan CA, Chien KR, Melton DA.(2008) Marked differences in differentiation propensity among human embryonic stem cell lines. Nat Biotechnol.26(3):313-5. Epub 2008 Feb 17.

Zhou Q, Brown J, Kanarek A, Rajagopal J, Melton DA. (2008) In vivo reprogramming of adult pancreatic exocrine cells to b cells. Nature doi:10.1038, August 2008.

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