Kenneth S. Zaret, Ph.D.

Ken is the Joseph Leidy Professor in the Department of Cell and Developmental Biology, and the Co-Director of the Epigenetics Program at the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine. 

Dr. Zaret's interests include gene regulation, chromatin structure, and developmental/stem cell biology.  His laboratory discovered a basis for developmental competence by identifying pioneer transcription factors that engage target genes in progenitor cells, expose the local DNA, and endow the gene with the competence to be activated.  He established the mammalian embryonic endoderm as an experimental system and used it to discover signals that induce liver and pancreas cell fates.  These discoveries are now used by the field to differentiate stem cells for regenerative therapies and research.  His lab discovered that endothelial cells possess a direct signaling role in promoting liver and pancreas development.  As a leader of a highly collaborative study within the NIDDK's Beta Cell Biology Consortium, his group's proteomic screen identified relevant endothelial signals and obtained genetic evidence for receptors that control the number of pancreatic beta cells. 

Dr. Zaret has been an Editor of the journals MCB and Development, chaired international scientific meetings, served on numerous scientific advisory boards for academia, biotech/pharma, and the NIH, including on NIGMS Council and being a member and Chair of the Board of Scientific Counselors of NICHD.  He has received a MERIT award from the NIGMS, the Hans Popper Basic Science Award from the American Association for the Study of Liver Diseases and the American Liver Foundation, and is a Fellow of the AAAS.