Bryon Petersen, Ph.D.


Child Health Research Institute

Academic Title


Contact Information


Academic Research Building, Room R1-118


  • University of Iowa, B.A., Research Tech.
  • University of Pittsburgh, M.S., Toxicology
  • University of Pittsburgh, Ph.D., Molecular Toxicology


Dr. Petersen received his BA from the University of Iowa, and received his MS and Ph.D. from the University of Pittsburgh.  His post-doctorate training continued at Pitt in the Department of Pathology, and was promoted to Research Assistant Professor. In 2000 Dr. Petersen took a faculty position at the University of Florida as an Assistant Professor and was promoted to an Associate Professor with tenure. In 2010, he took a position at Wake Forest Institute of Regenerative Medicine. He returned to UF’s Department of Pediatrics in July of 2012. He currently has authored or co-authored over 80 peer-reviewed papers and nine book chapters. He has been honored with several national and international awards and has secured NIH funding for the past 15 yrs. Dr. Petersen is truly excited to back with the gator nation and can’t wait to begin his collaborations within the department.

Research Overview

Dr. Bryon Petersen has been recognized worldwide as a foremost authority in hepatic stem cells and their role in Liver Pathobiology.  He is currently conducting research in stem cell biology and how it relates to the patho-physiology of the liver.  Dr. Petersen’s seminal paper in the journal Science (Science 284: 1168-1170) helped usher in the stem cell field as we know it today.  This research showed that bone marrow derived cells could become functioning hepatocytes, and several clinical trials have been attempted based upon his discovery.  In addition, Dr. Petersen is investigating the usefulness of gene/stem cell therapy in the treatment of certain inherited metabolic diseases of the liver (Crigler-Najjar Syndrome (C-NS) and Glycogen Storage Disease (GSD)).

Children with C-NS are unable to eliminate bilirubin from their bodies and, therefore, must undergo daily 12-hour exposure to special blue lights, just to survive.  Without daily treatments, a child would suffer brain damage, muscle and nerve damage and death due to bilirubin toxicity.  Children with GCS suffer in a different way, having to eat/drink a corn-starch meal every four hours to maintain their blood glucose levels.  If they don’t, they become hypoglycemic and will fall into a coma and die.  To date very few options are available for treatment of these diseases.  Liver transplantation is an efficacious therapy, but the number of donor organs is limited, requires life-long immune suppression and in most cases is cost prohibitive.  His studies combine two high-profile fields–stem cells and gene therapy–that will hopefully cure these children of their disease, not just treat them.

Dr. Petersen continues his work on bone marrow-derived stem cells, elucidating the mechanisms behind the signals to which they respond as well as how they repopulate a damaged liver.  Dr. Petersen’s lab has demonstrated temporal and profound role of several different molecules such as (SDF-1, G-CSF and SST) on stem cell proliferation and differentiation, which will be critical for successful hepatic tissue engineering.

A new line of research in Dr. Petersen’s pertains toward the development of a bio-artificial liver device. Using decellularized liver as a building block we are investigating how both mature and stem cells can be utilized in regenerating functional hepatic tissue that be used in a bio-reactor device to assist patients to liver transplant or allow their own liver to repair/regenerate thereby reducing the number of patients on the transplant list.

In addition, Dr. Petersen’s laboratory is working on whether or not bone marrow derived cells can be a useful approach in the treatment of Type-1 Diabetes.  His lab has shown that bone marrow derived cells can be differentiated into insulin producing cells, which can then be transplanted into mice and correct their hyperglycemia. In collaboration with Drs Seh-Hoon Oh and Clayton Mathews a new gene/protein has been discovered called IHoP (Islet Homeostatis Protein), which we are now beginning to understand some of its functions within the pancreas. This protein appears to play a critical role in the progression of Type-1 Diabetes and could possibly be a new target in the treatment of T1D patients.

Lastly, Dr. Petersen has begun to work on hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) and therapeutic targeting of stem cells in HCC will be highly significant, especially since several cancer stem cells are being identified in solid tumor settings.

Key Publications

  1. Method for the decellularization of intact rat liver. Shupe T, Williams M, Brown A, Willenberg B, Petersen BE. Organogenesis. 2010 Apr;6(2):134-6
  2. Isolation and characterization of hepatic stem cells, or “oval cells,” from rat livers. Shupe TD, Piscaglia AC, Oh SH, Gasbarrini A, Petersen BE. Methods Mol Biol. 2009; 482: 387-405. PMID: 19089369
  3. Connective Tissue Growth Factor with a Novel Fibronectin Binding Site Promotes Cell Adhesion and Migration During Rat Oval Cell Activation Liya Pi, Xiaodong Ding, Marda Jorgensen, Jen-Jung Pan, Seh-Hoon Oh, Dana Pintilie, Alicia Brown, Wen-Yuan Song, and Bryon E. Petersen. Hepatology 2008 Mar: 47(3):996-1004. PMID: 18167060
  4. Insulin-like growth factor binding protein-3 is required for the regulation of rat oval cell proliferation and differentiation in the 2AAF/PHX model. Nicole C Steiger-Luther, Houda Darwiche, Seh-Hoon Oh, Jennifer M Williams, Bryon E Petersen Hepatic Medicine: Evidence and Research 2010:2 13–32.
  5. The Role of Connective Tissue Growth Factor in Oval Cell Response During Liver Regeneration Following 2-AAF/PHx in Rats. Liya Pi, Seh-Hoon Oh, Thomas Shupe and Bryon E. Petersen. (2005) Gastroenterology 128: 2077-2088. PMID: 15940639
  6. A potential role of somatostatin and its receptor SSTR4 in the migration of hepatic oval cells. (2006) Jung Y, Oh SH, Zheng D, Shupe TD, Witek RP, Petersen BE. Lab Invest. 2006 86(5):477-89. PMID
  7. Granulocyte-Colony Stimulating Factor Promotes Liver Repair and Induces Oval Cell Migration and Proliferation in Rats. Anna C. Piscaglia, Thomas D. Shupe, Seh-Hoon Oh, Antonio Gasbarrini, Bryon E. Petersen. Gastroenterology, 2007, 133: 619-631. PMID: 17681181
  8. Bone marrow derived hepatic oval cells differentiate into hepatocytes in 2AAF/PHx induced liver regeneration. She-Hoon Oh, Rafal Witek, SiHyun Bae, Donghang Zheng, Youngmi Jung, Anna C. Picaglia and Bryon E. Petersen. Gastroenterology, 2007, 132:1077-1087. PMID: 17383429
  9. Bone marrow as a potential source for hepatic oval cells.  Petersen BE, Bowen WC, Mars WM, Patrene KD, Boggs SS, Sullivan AK, Greenberger JS, and Goff JP.  (1999) Science 284:1168-1170. PMID: 10325227
  10. Mouse Hepatic Oval Cells Express the Hematopoietic Stem Cell Markers Sca-1 and CD-34. Bryon E. Petersen, Brian Grossbard, Heather Hatch, Edward Scott. (2003) Hepatology, 37(3): 632-640. PMID: 12601361
  11. Hepatic oval cells express the hematopoietic stem cell marker Thy-1 in the rat.  Petersen BE, Goff JP, Greenberger JS and Michalopoulos GK.  (1998) Hepatology 27(2): 433-445. PMID: 9462642
  12. Extracellular matrix remodeling at the early stages of liver regeneration.  Kim T-Y, Mars WM, Stolz DB, Petersen BE and Michalopoulos GK.  (1997) Hepatology 26(4): 896-904. PMID: 9328311
  13. Hepatic stellate cells’ involvement in progenitor mediated liver regeneration Dana Gabriela Pintilie, Thomas D Shupe, Seh-hoon Oh, Susan Victoria Salganik, Houda Darwiche, Bryon E Petersen. Laboratory Investigation, 2010, in press.
  14. Distinct morphological and mito-inhibitory effects induced by TGF-b1, HGF and EGF on mouse, rat and human hepatocytes.  Petersen BE, Yee CJ, Bowen W, Zarnegar R, and Michalopoulos GK, (1994) Cell bio and Tox 10: 219. PMID: 789515
  15. Hepatic stellate cells’ involvement in progenitor mediated liver regeneration Dana Gabriela Pintilie, Thomas D Shupe, Seh-hoon Oh, Susan Victoria Salganik, Houda Darwiche, Bryon E Petersen. Laboratory Investigation, 2010, Aug; 90(8):1199-208.