Research in our laboratory is focused on the developmental biology of the pancreas. The aim of our research is to understand the genes and cells that direct pancreatic organogenesis. We plan to use that information to grow and develop pancreatic cells (Islets of Langerhans). These goals challenge us to understand the precursors or stem cells that give rise to the pancreas and to characterize the gene products that specify cell fates during organogenesis. We use several vertebrate organisms, including frogs, chickens, and zebrafish, but the majority of our studies are done with mice. In addition, a major focus of our present effort is the differentiation of human embryonic stem cells into pancreatic beta (insulin-producing) cells. We use a variety of techniques including functional genomics and gene arrays for gene discovery, tissue explants and grafting for analyzing inductive signals, and developmental genetics for direct assays of gene function. For more information on our research and group members, see the Melton Lab Homepage.