Marianna Bei, Ph.D.

Assistant Investigator
Center for Engineering in Medicine, Massachusetts General Hospital
Assistant Professor of Surgery
Harvard Medical School
bone morphogenetic protein 4; bone morphogenetic proteins; developmental biology; epithelial cells; msx1 transcription factor; odontogenesis; organ formation; potassium channels; stem cell biology; t-box domain proteins; tooth; tooth crown; tooth germ

Marianna Bei, PhD, is an Assistant Professor at the Department of Surgery, Massachusetts General Hospital, Harvard Medical School and a Scientific Investigator at Shriners Burns Hospital.

Dr. Bei is trained as developmental biologist, using mouse as her main experimental system and a variety of classic embryological techniques combined with targeted mutagenesis, molecular biology, genomics, proteomics and biomedical engineering.

Her research program is devoted to understanding the molecular mechanisms controlling organ formation in vertebrates and in particular the formation and homeostasis of the skin and its appendages, the biology of stem cells and the pathways mediating scar-less skin wound healing. 

She has published more than 50 referred journal articles, book chapters, monographs and conference papers. Her research program is sponsored by several agencies such as National Institutes of Health, the Department of Defense, Harvard Medical School and the National Foundation for Ectodermal Dysplasias.

She has mentored >20 undergraduate/graduate students and postdoctoral fellows, and has taught several courses, such as general embryology, reconstructive biotechnology, cellular and molecular physiopathology and craniofacial development.

Her role in the field is recognized and includes national and international administrative activities such as service in scientific and technical major conference committees, conference chair, ad hoc reviewer at the NIH, National Science Foundation and Medical Research Council/UK study sections, review of manuscripts for numerous top tier scientific journals, service in editorial boards of internationally recognized scientific journals and she has been invited to give >40 lectures in institutions and major conferences in USA and abroad.


Dr. Bei’s laboratory is devoted to understanding the molecular mechanisms controlling organ formation in vertebrates and in particular the formation and homeostasis of the skin and its appendages.

One of the biggest challenges is to develop therapeutic strategies based on biological principles to treat skin diseases, or to regenerate epithelial organs.

In that context, Dr. Bei’s group is focused (i) on the identification of transcription factor networks controlling morphogenesis and homeostasis of skin and its appendages, such as the tooth, hair and sweat gland; (ii) on how posttranslational modifications provide a unique epigenetic signature that controls the ability of these transcription factors, to determine epithelial organ cell fate; (iii) on the identification of key molecules that  prevent certain types of alopecia; (iv) on the identification of critical molecules regulating skin wound healing, and (v) in collaboration with clinical scientists and biomedical engineers at CEM, Dr. Bei’s group is working towards the development of gene-enhanced skin substitutes as cell-based devices to deliver therapeutics locally or systemically to enhance skin wound healing.

Research website Publications
Center for Engineering in Medicine

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