MacArthur Fellows Program

MacArthur Fellows / Meet the Class of 2008

Susan Mango

Developmental Biologist

Department of Oncological Sciences, University of Utah

Salt Lake City, Utah

Age: 47 at time of award

Published January 27, 2008
Portrait of Susan Mango

Susan Mango is a biologist who synthesizes approaches from genetics, genomics, ecology, and embryology to address one of the most challenging questions in developmental biology — how complex organs form. Though much effort has been devoted to understanding how cells differentiate from a pluripotent state into specialized tissues (e.g., nerve, muscle, blood vessels), little is known about how these tissues interact and integrate into cohesive, functioning organs. Using the nematode digestive system as a model, Mango has identified a single gene, pha-4, as being crucial to coordinated development of this creature’s pharynx. Mutations in this gene affect many different cell types in different regions, but each has a critical role in the developing pharynx. Using a combination of microarray techniques and computational algorithms, Mango has teased out the mechanism of action of the PHA-4 protein as a promoter for a host of other genes involved in pharynx development. Her results solidify the hypothesis that organ formation in the worm has a distinctly genetic basis. Through her multifaceted exploration of the integrative biology of nematode development, Mango provides critical insights into the complex process of organogenesis.

Susan Mango received a B.A. (1983) from Harvard University and a Ph.D. (1990) from Princeton University. She completed a postdoctoral research fellowship (1990-1995) in the Laboratory of Molecular Biology at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. Since 1996, she has been a faculty member in the Department of Oncological Sciences at the University of Utah, where she is currently a professor. Her articles have been published in such journals as Nature, Science, Cell, and PLoS Biology.

Recent News

Since 2009, Susan Mango has been affiliated with Harvard University, where she is currently a professor in the Department of Molecular and Cellular Biology.

Updated August 2015


High-resolution photos for download. Photos are owned by the MacArthur Foundation and licensed under a Creative Commons license: CC-BY. Credit: John D. & Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation. Right-click on a link below to save the file to your computer.

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