Omer H. Yilmaz

Omer H. Yilmaz

Associate Professor of Biology; Intramural Faculty, Koch Institute

Omer H. Yilmaz explores the impact of dietary interventions on stem cells, the immune system, and cancer within the intestine.






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  • PhD, 2008, University of Michigan; MD, 2008, University of Michigan Medical School
  • BS, 1999, Biochemistry and Physics, University of Michigan

Research Summary

The adult intestine is maintained by stem cells that require a cellular neighborhood, or niche, consisting in part of Paneth cells. Our laboratory will investigate the molecular mechanisms of how intestinal stem cells and their Paneth cell niche respond to diverse diets to coordinate intestinal regeneration with organismal physiology and its impact on the formation and growth of intestinal cancers.  By better understanding how intestinal stem cells adapt to diverse diets, we hope to identify and develop new strategies that prevent and reduce the growth of cancers involving the intestinal tract that includes the small intestine, colon, and rectum.


  • AAAS Martin and Rose Wachtel Cancer Research Award, 2018
  • Pew-Stewart Trust Scholar, 2016-2020
  • Sidney Kimmel Scholar, 2016-2020
  • V Foundation Scholar, 2014-2017
  • Harold M. Weintraub Award, 2007

Key Publications

  1. In vivo genome editing and organoid transplantation models of colorectal cancer and metastasis. Roper, J, Tammela, T, Cetinbas, NM, Akkad, A, Roghanian, A, Rickelt, S, Almeqdadi, M, Wu, K, Oberli, MA, Sánchez-Rivera, FJ et al.. 2017. Nat Biotechnol 35, 569-576.
    doi: 10.1038/nbt.3836PMID:28459449
  2. High-fat diet enhances stemness and tumorigenicity of intestinal progenitors. Beyaz, S, Mana, MD, Roper, J, Kedrin, D, Saadatpour, A, Hong, SJ, Bauer-Rowe, KE, Xifaras, ME, Akkad, A, Arias, E et al.. 2016. Nature 531, 53-8.
    doi: 10.1038/nature17173PMID:26935695
  3. Dietary and metabolic control of stem cell function in physiology and cancer. Mihaylova, MM, Sabatini, DM, Yilmaz, ÖH. 2014. Cell Stem Cell 14, 292-305.
    doi: 10.1016/j.stem.2014.02.008PMID:24607404
  4. mTORC1 in the Paneth cell niche couples intestinal stem-cell function to calorie intake. Yilmaz, ÖH, Katajisto, P, Lamming, DW, Gültekin, Y, Bauer-Rowe, KE, Sengupta, S, Birsoy, K, Dursun, A, Yilmaz, VO, Selig, M et al.. 2012. Nature 486, 490-5.
    doi: 10.1038/nature11163PMID:22722868
  5. Pten dependence distinguishes haematopoietic stem cells from leukaemia-initiating cells. Yilmaz, OH, Valdez, R, Theisen, BK, Guo, W, Ferguson, DO, Wu, H, Morrison, SJ. 2006. Nature 441, 475-82.
    doi: 10.1038/nature04703PMID:16598206

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