Stem Cell Program Leadership

Trista E. North, PhD

Trista E. North, PhD Principal Investigator, Boston Children’s Hospital Associate Professor of Pathology, Harvard Medical School

Dr. Trista E. North is an Associate Professor at Harvard Medical School (HMS) and a Principal Investigator at Children’s Hospital in Boston, Massachusetts USA. She is Principal Faculty at the Harvard Stem Cell Institute, Faculty of the Biological and Biomedical Sciences Graduate Program at HMS, and a full member of the Dana-Farber/Harvard Cancer Center. Dr. North received a Bachelor’s degree from Bowdoin College in 1996, and her PhD from Dartmouth College in 2002. Her graduate work, in the laboratory of Dr. Nancy A. Speck, examined the function of Runx1 in hematopoietic (blood) stem cell (HSC) development in murine embryos. Dr. North conducted her postdoctoral research with Dr. Leonard I. Zon at Children’s Hospital, Harvard Medical School, using zebrafish to identify novel modulators of Runx1+ HSC production via a chemical screening approach; this methodology led to the first example of FDA approval for the investigational use of a compound (Prostaglandin E2 (PGE2)) identified in zebrafish for human clinical application (umbilical cord blood transplantation). Dr. North has served on the board of Directors for the International Society of Experimental Hematology, and as the chair of the publications committee, and was the founding editor of the Simply Blood blog. She is also editorial board member and guest editor for Experimental Hematology. Dr. North was named ASH Scholar in 2010, a V Foundation Scholar in 2011, and is currently a Scholar of the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society. Dr. North was recently awarded the 2017 McCulloch and Till award for outstanding hematology research from the International Society of Experimental Hematology.

Dr. North’s laboratory focuses on developmental hematopoiesis as a key to uncovering fundamental principles of stem cell regulation, including specification, self-renewal, regeneration, and cancer. Hematopoietic stem cells (HSCs) give rise to each of the blood lineages found in the adult vertebrate. The gene programs regulating HSC development and homeostasis are highly evolutionarily conserved. Significantly, intrinsic or extrinsic deregulation of hematopoiesis can result in hematologic disorders and/or malignancies, including leukemia. The North lab uses genetic knockdown and epistasis methodologies, together with in vivo chemical biology screening approaches in zebrafish to identify pathways regulating hematopoietic niche formation, stem cell induction, and subsequent life-long function. To determine conservation of regulatory effect and translational application, the North lab utilizes murine HSC development and regeneration assays, and human HSC in vitro culture and xenograft models. Ongoing work in the North laboratory examines the following topics in the field of hematovascular biology: 1) characterization of novel regulators of hemogenic endothelium induction and HSC function; 2) the biological rationale for pre-HSC blood formation and shifting hemogenic niches in the vertebrate organism; 3) the impact of immuno-metabolic and environmental factors on embryonic hematopoiesis, including relevance to hematologic disease. Together, prior and ongoing work from the North lab broadens our understanding of vertebrate HSC formation, expansion and differentiation, which has direct relevance for the development of novel therapeutic strategies for controlling hematologic disease and enhancing blood stem cell production and/or function for use in transplantation biology.

For more information on the work taking place in Dr. North’s lab, please see the North Lab (add link) section of this website and http://www.fishing4stemcells.org

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