Stem Cell Program Labs

The Camargo Lab

The Camargo laboratory focuses on the study of adult stem cell biology, organ size regulation, and cancer.

Organ size regulation:

Despite fantastic progress in developmental biology research over the past decade, one aspect of development and tissue homeostasis for which very little is understood is how individual tissues reach and then maintain their appropriate size. Classic studies have demonstrated that tissues are able to “sense” their size and expand or shrink until a correct dimension has been reached. Nevertheless, the nature of the molecules and pathways involved in this process remains mysterious. Our laboratory utilizes a variety of genetic, biochemical, and high throughput technologies to identify molecules and mechanisms that regulate this fascinating process in mammals.

We are particularly interested in studying the function of an emerging highly-conserved developmental signaling cascade, the Hippo pathway, and its effects on tissue size, homeostasis and cancer. Our previous work has demonstrated that Hippo signaling can be a very potent regulator of organ size in mice and has also provided a conceptual link between organ size regulation and stem cell activity through Hippo signals. Our studies are now aimed at fully dissecting the components and the role of this cascade in somatic stem cells. For instance, we are currently performing genome-wide gain- and loss-of-function genetic screens to identify new regulators of Hippo signaling in mammals. Additionally, we have generated several animal models with mutations that can conditionally activate or deactivate Hippo signaling in our tissue of interest. These models will allow us to gain an understanding of the plethora of roles Hippo signaling plays during development, tissue regeneration, and malignancy. Insight into these processes will shed light on fundamental aspects of tissue regeneration and facilitate the development of therapeutic approaches based on cellular transplantation.

Characterization of hematopoietic stem cells in vivo:

Our laboratory also has a strong interest in studying the cellular and molecular biology of hematopoietic stem cells. Our studies focus primarily on the in vivo roles of transcription factors and microRNAs in stem cell fate decisions, differentiation, and malignancy. Additionally, we have recently developed a novel methodology for the tracking and monitoring of individual hematopoietic stem cells and their progeny, which we think will evolve into an entirely novel experimental paradigm to study complex populations of stem cells in situ. This model will be an invaluable resource in the years to come to understand the behavior, dynamics and heterogeneity of stem cells in an array of disease conditions.

Read more about our lab’s work in this Journal of Cell Biology interview.

Stehling-Sun S, Dade J, Nutt SL, DeKoter RP and Camargo FD. (2009) Regulation of lymphoid versus myeloid fate by Mef2c. (2009) Nature Immunology 10:289-96

Baek D, Shin C, Villen J, Camargo FD, Gygi S and Bartel DP. (2008) The impact of microRNAs on target protein output. Nature 455:64-71

Johnnidis JB, Harris MH, Wheeler TR, Stehling-Sun S, Lam MH, Brummelkamp TR, Fleming MD and Camargo FD. (2008) Regulation of progenitor cell proliferation and granulocyte function by microRNA-223. Nature 451:1125-29

Camargo FD*, Gokhale S, Johnnidis JB, Fu D, Bell GW, Jaenisch R, and Brummelkamp TR*. (2007) YAP1 increases organ size and expands undifferentiated progenitor cells. Curr Biol. 17:2054-60 (*Equal senior author contribution)


Karin Schlegelmilch, Graduate Student

Mori Mohseni, Postdoctoral Fellow

Susy Ramos, Research Assistant

Evan Barry, Postdoctoral Fellow

Kriti Shrestha, Research Assistant

Annie Tremblay, Postdoctoral Fellow



  • The secret lives of stem cells

    Through a novel technique using genetic tags as “barcodes,” Fernando Camargo, PhD, of the Stem Cell Program at Children’s Hospital Boston is tracking the live workings of adult stem cells in mice, under a National Institutes of Health New Innovator Award. Camargo is monitoring the day-to-day activity and differentiation of individual stem cells and their offspring in their natural living environment over time. Although the work will track stem cells in the blood-forming system, the model is applicable to a variety of tissues and will yield many insights applicable to human disease and potential treatment by regenerating diseased or damaged tissues.