Skip to Main Content Go to Sitemap

Bret Pearson

Title: Adjunct Scientist, Developmental & Stem Cell Biology
Designations: PhD
Phone: 416-813-7654 ext. 328370
Alternate Contact Name: Meera Kamal
Alternate Phone: 416-813-7654 ext. 309121
Alternate Email:
U of T Positions: Associate Professor, Director Collaborative Specialization in Developmental Biology


Dr. Pearson’s lab uses freshwater planarian (Schmidtea mediterranea) and zebrafish (Danio rerio) as model organisms to study how adult stem cells make their precise cellular lineages during neural regeneration following acute injury.

His team also studies how this biology becomes dysregulated during the formation of brain cancers such as glioblastoma multiforme. Their overarching goal is to understand the basic biology and molecular mechanisms of neural regeneration at a single-cell level. 


Dr. Pearson’s team studies how stem cell biology is required for neural regeneration from spinal cord injury, as well as how stem cell biology goes wrong during cancer development. 

Education and experience

  • July 2018–Present: Director, Collaborative Specialization in Developmental Biology, University of Toronto, Toronto, ON
  • July 2016–Present: Senior Scientist, Program in Developmental and Stem Cell Biology, The Hospital for Sick Children, Toronto, ON 
  • July 2016–Present: Investigator II, Ontario Institute for Cancer Research 
  • July 2016–Present: Associate Professor, Department of Molecular Genetics, University of Toronto, Toronto, ON
  • June 2010June 2016: Scientist, Program in Developmental and Stem Cell Biology, The Hospital for Sick Children, Toronto, ON 
  • June 2010June 2016: New Investigator, Ontario Institute for Cancer Research, Cancer Stem Cell Program 
  • June 2010June 2016: Assistant Professor, Department of Molecular Genetics, University of Toronto, Toronto, ON
  • May 2005May 2010: Postdoctoral Fellow, Department of Neurobiology and Anatomy, Howard Hughes Medical Institute, University of Utah, Salt Lake City, UT, USA 
  • Aug. 1999May 2005: Graduate Student, Institutes of Molecular Biology and Neuroscience, Howard Hughes Medical Institute, University of Oregon, Eugene, OR, USA 
  • May 1998Aug 1999: Laboratory Technician, Department of Ophthalmology, University of Wisconsin-Madison, Madison, WI, USA
  • May 1997May 1999: Undergraduate Research, Department of Genetics, Howard Hughes Medical Institute, University of Wisconsin-Madison, Madison, WI, USA 


  • 2015: CIHR Early Career Salary Award 
  • 2015: Ontario Ministry of Research and Innovation Early Career Award 
  • 2014: CIHR Early Career Award in Cancer 
  • 2010: OICR New Investigator Award 
  • 2005: Harold M. Weintraub Graduate Research Award (Given by Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center) 


  1. Nicole Lindsay-Mosher, Andy Chan, and Bret J. Pearson (2020) “Planarian EGF-repeat containing genes megf6 and hemicentin are required to restrict the stem cell compartment” PLoS Genetics 16(2):e1008613  
  2. Ross, KG, Molinaro, AM, Romero, C, Dockter, B, Cable, KL, Gonzalez, K, Zhang, S, Collins, EMS, Pearson, BJ and Zayas, RM (2018) “SoxB1 activity regulates sensory regeneration and function in planarians” Developmental Cell 47.331-347. 
  3. Lakshmipuram Seshadri Swapna, Alyssa M. Molinaro, Bret J. Pearson and John Parkinson (2018) “Comparative transcriptomic analyses and single-cell RNA sequencing of the freshwater planarian Schmidtea mediterranea identify major cell types and pathway conservation.” Genome Biology 19(1):124. doi: 10.1186/s13059-018-1498-x 
  4. Shu Jun Zhu and Bret J. Pearson (2018) “Smed-myb-1 regulates epidermal lineage progression in planarians” Cell Reports 25:38 
  5. Alex Y.T. Lin and Bret J. Pearson (2017) “Yorkie is required to restrict injury responses in planarians” PLoS Genetics 13(7):e1006874. 

  • 20182023: CIHR Operating Grant (PJT159611) 
  • 20172021: OICR TRI brain tumor team grant (BC-TRI-FR-HSK) 
  • 20162021: NSERC Discovery Grant (RGPIN-2016-06354) 
  • 20162021: OICR Investigator II Award (IA-026) 
Back to Top