Our lab investigates the evolution of metastases in zebrafish. Metastatic capacity is the defining feature of malignancy. It is responsible for the vast majority of deaths from solid tumors. Cancers acquire this capacity as a result of an evolutionary game that capitalizes on four essential features of Darwinian evolution: 1) heritable mutations, 2) environmental selection of the fittest cells, 3) geographical distribution of individual cell types, and 4) clonal expansion. In this light, successful metastasis must always be considered as an interaction between the tumor cell and its host environment.


White RM, Rose K, Zon LI. Zebrafish cancer: the state of the art and the path forward. Nature Reviews Cancer. 2013 Sep;13(9):624-36.

White RM, Cech J, Ratanasirintrawoot S, Lin CY, Rahl PB, Burke CJ, Langdon E, Tomlinson ML, Mosher J, Kaufman C, Chen F, Long HK, Kramer M, Datta S, Neuberg D, Granter S, Young RA, Morrison S, Wheeler GN, Zon LI. DHODH modulates transcriptional elongation in the neural crest and melanoma. Nature. 2011 Mar 24;471(7339):518-22. doi: 10.1038/nature09882.

Feng H, Stachura DL, White RM, Gutierrez A, Zhang L, Sanda T, Jette CA, Testa JR, Neuberg DS, Langenau DM, Kutok JL, Zon LI, Traver D, Fleming MD, Kanki JP, Look AT. T-lymphoblastic lymphoma cells express high levels of BCL2, S1P1, and ICAM1, leading to a blockade of tumor cell intravasation. Cancer Cell. 2010 Oct 19;18(4):353-66. doi: 10.1016/j.ccr.2010.09.009.

Taylor AM, Humphries JM, White RM, Murphey RD, Burns CE, Zon LI. Hematopoietic defects in rps29 mutant zebrafish depend upon p53 activation. Exp Hematol. 2012 Mar;40(3):228-237.e5. doi: 10.1016/j.exphem.2011.11.007.. Epub 2011 Nov 25.

White RM, Sessa A, Burke C, Bowman T, LeBlanc J, Ceol C, Bourque C, Dovey M, Goessling W, Burns CE, Zon LI. Transparent adult zebrafish as a tool for in vivo transplantation analysis. Cell Stem Cell. 2008 Feb 7;2(2):183-9. doi: 10.1016/j.stem.2007.11.002.

Kaufman CK, White RM, Zon L. Chemical genetic screening in the zebrafish embryo. Nat Protoc. 2009;4(10):1422-32. doi: 10.1038/nprot.2009.144. Epub 2009 Sep 10.

Selected Achievements

Young Mentor Award, Melanoma Research Alliance (2012)

Young Investigator Award, American Association for Cancer Research/American Society of Clinical Oncology (2012)

Certificate of Distinction in Teaching,The Derek Bok Center, Harvard University (2012)

Young Mentor Award, Harvard Medical School (2009)

Outstanding Educator Award, Yale School of Medicine, Department of Internal Medicine (2002)