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.

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


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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

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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

On the lookout

March 2016 - University of Michigan School of Dentistry ranked 4th best in the world based on research citations per paper and employer and academic reputation

March 2016 - Dr. Lombaert speaks at AADR (American Association for Dental Research), Los Angeles, CA


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.

Lab Technicians

Ashley Cornett, M.S. Biology

Research Laboratory Technician Senior

Emily Hill

Research Laboratory Technician

Alexander Carson

Research Laboratory Technician

Fatima Haidar

Research Laboratory Technician

Graduate Students

Harleen Athwal

D.D.S./Ph.D. Graduate Student, Biologic and Materials Sciences

Undergraduate Students

Allison Goodsell

Undergraduate Research Assistant, Biology, LSA

Kenji Yeoh

Undergraduate Research Assistant, Biomedical Engineering


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

Phone: (+1) 734-763-1135

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