The North laboratory focuses on developmental hematopoiesis (blood production) as a key to uncovering general principles of stem cell formation and function. Hematopoietic stem cells (HSCs) give rise to each of the blood lineages found in the adult organism; the programs regulating HSC development and homeostasis are highly evolutionarily conserved. Alterations in hematopoiesis can result in a variety of hematologic malignancies, including leukemia. We use chemical biology and genetic methods in zebrafish to identify and integrate pathways regulating hematopoietic niche formation, stem cell induction, and life-long function. We also seek to understand how environmental or extrinsic modifiers alter stem cell production, self-renewal and differentiation capacity. To investigate conservation of regulatory effects and translational application, we utilize murine HSC transplantation assays and human in vitro culture and xenograft models. Work in the North laboratory has relevance to the development of novel methods to produce and/or expand HSCs for therapeutic use in the treatment of blood disease.