Qiao Zhou, PhD.



Qiao Zhou, Ph.D. (Harvard Stem Cell Institute, Stem Cell & Regenerative Biology) is a developmental biologist dedicated to developing new regenerative medicine approaches to treat diabetes. His training and early work was focused on the identification of master regulators that control cell fate decisions in brain development and pancreatic endocrine development. These studies led him to pioneer a new approach of regenerating pancreatic beta cells in adult mice by directly reprogramming pancreatic acinar cells with defined genetic factors. This study is the first proof of principle that cells in adult organs can be reprogrammed in vivo, which led to numerous subsequent studies of adult tissue reprogramming. His laboratory has made significant progress at advancing translational goals of producing functional human insulin+ cells with the reprogramming approach. In particular, his group’s recent work showed that antral cells of the stomach are highly amenable to adopt the beta-cell fate. They are developing technologies to produce personalized insulin+ cells from human antral stem cells as a novel cell therapy for type 1 diabetes. Another line of investigation is the study of gastrointestinal enteroendocrine cells in type 2 diabetes and obesity. In particular, they have developed novel methods to derive different classes of enteroendocrine cells from cultured murine and human GI stem cells. They have discovered small molecules that promote the development of specific enteroendocrine cells, such as GLP1+ intestinal L-cells  Their long- term goal is to develop drugs that can manipulate enteroendocrine cell.