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lombaert lab
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Develop the next generation of therapies and help the field of regenerative medicine move forward


You don’t realize the importance of saliva until it’s gone.

The question that is driving our research in the long-term focuses on how we can apply stem cell-based therapies to repair damaged tissues.

We would like to determine how stem cells participate in the formation of branching organs and how they respond to various external and internal cues in normal, damaged or diseased environments. With this knowledge we then design ways to (re)generate new tissues and/or injured organs.

A particular area of the lab is focused on patients suffering from saliva loss, termed hypo-salivation, which can lead to dry mouth syndrome or xerostomia. This often painful and devastating oral health condition can occur in head-and-neck cancer patients receiving radiation on their salivary glands as part of radiotherapy treatment, or as a result of auto-immune diseases like Sjögren, or from the intake of certain medications.

With respect to those patients, we aim to team up with other experts in the field to define what is biologically and molecularly occurring in the damaged tissue, and define regenerative therapies that can be translated into the clinic.

With thanks to the following funding organizations:

NIDCR logo
Mich Pitt Wyss logo
michigan dentistry logo
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rogel cancer center logo
rackham logo
rackham logo

student performing research



The most recent publications are reported below or view the complete listing on Pubmed.


surgery of salivary glands book cover
regenerative medicine book cover
stem cells of craniofacial development book cover
salivary glands book cover
dry mouth book cover
stem cell therapy book cover

Surgery of the Salivary Glands

Witt, RL ed. Surgery of the Salivary Glands, Elsevier Publishers, London, England 2020.

Salivary Gland Regeneration – Appendix 5: Considering applications for regenerative medicine

Lombaert I.M.A. 2014
In: NIH Intramural Pluripotent Stem Cell Protocol Book
Editors: Hunsberger J., Becker S., and Rao M.

Stem cells in salivary gland development and regeneration

Lombaert I.M.A., Hoffman M.P. 2013
In: Stem cells in craniofacial development, regeneration, and repair
Editors: George H. and Irma T.

Epithelial stem/progenitor cells in the embryonic mouse submandibular gland

Lombaert I.M.A., Hoffman M.P. 2010
In: Salivary glands: Development, Adaptations and Disease. Frontiers of Oral Biology
Editors: Tucker A. and Miletich, I.

Is regeneration of diseased salivary glands a reasonable approach?

Coppes R.P., Lombaert I.M.A., 2010
In: Dry Mouth, The Malevolent Symptom: A Clinical Guide.
Editors: Screenby L. and Vissink A

Regeneration of irradiated salivary glands by stem cell therapy

Lombaert I.M.A. 2008
Drukkerij van Denderen, Groningen, The Netherlands. ISBN. 978-90-367-3370-0


student performing research


DENT 511: The Oralfacial Complex in Health II – The Oral Environment

This graduate level course is designed to provide the fundamental concepts of the oral environment that include salivary glands, oral mucosa and skin, as well as an introduction to the oral microbial ecology. It also introduces the role of oral health in dysfunctions and pathologies.



White Board: Stem Cells 101


2022 - Dr. Lombaert awarded the IADR Distinguished Scientist Award: Salivary Research Award.

isabelle lombaert

2021 - The University of Michigan School of Dentistry is rated as the top dental school in the United States for the seventh consecutive year, and moved up to No. 2 in the world based upon academic reputation, employer reputation and research impact. Read more at UM Dentistry News.

isabelle lombaert


isabelle lombaert
Photography by CJ South, MI

Isabelle Lombaert, PhD

Principal Investigator

Dr. Lombaert earned her BSc and MSc in Bio-Engineering at Ghent University, Belgium. She next graduated with a PhD in Medical Sciences at the University Medical Center Groningen, The Netherlands. Prior to joining the University of Michigan she worked at the National Institutes of Health, Bethesda, MD as a Visiting and Research Fellow.

Iva Vesela

Iva Vesela, PhD
Research Specialist

Samuel Nahass

Samuel Nahass, BS
Research Laboratory Technician

Hannah Viola

Hannah Viola, PhD
Post-doctoral Research Fellow

Christina Jones

Christina Jones
DDS/PhD Graduate Student

Zubaida Azeeza

Zubaida Azeeza
Undergraduate Research Assistant

Olivia Powell

Olivia Powell
Undergraduate Research Assistant

Priyan Weerappuli, PhD

Priyan Weerappuli, PhD
Post-doctoral Research Fellow


Hareesh Ragav

Abigail Vallie

Sanjana Kumar

Allison Goodsell

Ashley Cornett

Harleen Athwal

Emily Hill

George Murphy III

Alex Carson

Fatima Haidar

Kenji Yeoh

Joe Nguyen

Shannon Achille


biointerfaces building

Office of Dr. Lombaert
Biointerfaces Institute
Blg. 14, Rm 117
2800 Plymouth Road
Ann Arbor 48104, MI

Phone: (+1) 734-763-1135
Fax: (+1) 734-763-7133

biointerfaces institute

Biointerfaces Institute
Blg. 20W, Rm 334W
2800 Plymouth Road
Ann Arbor 48104, MI

Phone: (+1) 734-763-1135

school of dentistry

School of Dentistry
Dept. of Biologic and Materials Sciences
1011 N. University Ave.
Ann Arbor 48109, MI

Phone: (+1) 734-763-5280
Fax: (+1) 734-763-3453

lab team