MacArthur Fellows Program

Susan Mango

Developmental Biologist | Class of 2008

Synthesizing approaches from genetics, genomics, ecology, and embryology to address one of the most challenging questions in developmental biology — how organs are formed.

Developmental Biologist
Department of Oncological Sciences, University of Utah
Salt Lake City, Utah
47 at time of award
Published January 27, 2008

About Susan's Work

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

Select News Coverage of Susan Mango

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