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Michal Zalzman, PhD

Academic Title:

Assistant Professor

Primary Appointment:

Biochemistry and Molecular Biology

Secondary Appointment(s):

Otorhinolaryngology-Head & Neck Surgery


108 N Greene Street, 002

Phone (Primary):


Phone (Secondary):


Education and Training

  • Bar Ilan University, BS, Life Sciences, 1998
  • Tel Aviv University, MS, Human Molecular Genetics and Biochemistry, 2001
  • Tel Aviv University, PhD, Molecular Cell Biology, Stem Cell Research, 2007
  • NIA/National Institutes of Health, Postdoctoral Fellowship, Stem cell Research, Telomere Biology, 2012


Dr. Michal Zalzman is a molecular cell biologist and a stem-cell expert who has made significant discoveries in understanding stem-cell lifespan mechanisms and telomere length regulation. Her findings are published consistently in major leading journals and are heavily cited. Dr. Zalzman was the first to report a novel mechanism that regulates embryonic stem cell telomere lengthening and genomic stability (Zalzman M., et al., Nature, 2010). Recently, her lab developed a procedure to create thick, 3D human tissue from stem cells (Kumar A., et al., Advanced Science, 2024).

The Zalzman lab is committed to advancing the stem cell research field and translating their discoveries into therapies by developing 3D tissue mimetics for tissue regeneration and disease modeling. Their translational research focuses on defining the molecular and epigenetic pathways and fundamental mechanisms that regulate the replicative lifespan of cancer stem cells (CSCs) and pluripotent stem cells. They further determine stem cell factor targets and their impact on the chromatin (Portney BA., et al., Oncogene, 2020; Meltzer W.A, Gupta A., et al., IJMS, 2024). The lab employs a combination of molecular biology and bioengineering techniques, conducting experiments both in vitro and in vivo.

Significant achievements of Dr. Zalzman's research team include generating a stem cell bank from adult tissue sources such as tonsils and adipose tissue. More recently the lab published "DeepFreeze-3D (DF-3D) biofabrication", an innovative 3D bioprinting procedure at -80ºC that addresses major challenges in nutrient, CO2, and oxygen diffusion during and after 3D bioprinting of stem cells, enabling the production of large and thick human tissue (Kumar A. et al., Advanced Science, 2024).


Research/Clinical Keywords

Stem cells, Embryonic stem cells, ESCs, Induced pluripotent stem cells, iPSCs, Multipotent stem cells, MSCs, Telomere, Cancer stem cells, CSCs, Parkinson's disease, Stroke, Conductive hearing loss, Bone reconstruction, 3D Printing, DeepFeeze-3D printing, Tissue-reconstruction, Regenerative-medicine, Molecular Biology, Biochemistry, RNA-seq, ChIP-seq, Bioengineering, Tissue engineering

Highlighted Publications

    1. Nishiyama A, Xin L, Sharov AA, T…. Zalzman M, Li M, Falco G, Yang HT, Lee SL, Monti M, Stanghellini I, Islam MN, Nagaraja R, Goldberg I, Wang W, Longo DL, Schlessinger D, Ko MS. Uncovering early response of gene regulatory networks in ESCs by systematic induction of transcription factors. Cell Stem Cell. 2009 2;5(4):420-33
    2. Zalzman M, Falco G, Sharova LV, Nishiyama A, Thomas M, Lee SL, Stagg CA, Hoang HG, Yang HT, Indig FE, Wersto RP, Ko MS. Zscan4 regulates telomere elongation and genomic stability in ES cells. Nature (article). 2010. 464(7290):858-63.
    3. Khatri R, Arad M, Ortlip T, Diaconu S, Silipino LE, Portney BA, W. Alex Meltzer, Wang Y, Kaetzel D, Taylor RT and Zalzman M. Harvesting multipotent progenitor cells from a small sample of tonsillar biopsy for clinical applications. Stem cell Res & Ther. 2017. 8:174-185.
    4. Portney BA, Khatri R, Meltzer WA, Mariano JM, Zalzman M. ZSCAN4 is negatively regulated by the ubiquitin-proteasome system and the E3 ubiquitin ligase RNF20. Biochem Biophys Res Commun. 2018 Mar 25;498(1):72-78. doi: 10.1016/j.bbrc.2018.02.155. Epub 2018 Mar 2. PubMed PMID: 29477841; PubMed Central PMCID: PMC5928792.
    5. Zalzman M, Meltzer WA, Portney BA, Brown RA, Gupta A. The Role of Ubiquitination and SUMOylation in Telomere Biology. Curr Issues Mol 2020;35:85-98. doi: 10.21775/cimb.035.085. Epub 2019 Aug 18. Review. PubMed PMID: 31422934.
    6. Portney BA, Arad M, Gupta A, Brown RA, Khatri R, Lin PN, Hebert AM, Angster KH, Silipino LE, Meltzer WA, Taylor RJ, Zalzman M. ZSCAN4 facilitates chromatin remodeling and promotes the cancer stem cell phenotype. Oncogene. 2020 Jun;39(26):4970-4982. doi: 10.1038/s41388-020-1333-1. Epub 2020 Jun 7. PubMed PMID: 32507861; PubMed Central PMCID: PMC7314663.
    7. Meltzer WA, Gupta A, Lin PN, Brown RA, Benyamien-Roufaeil DS, Khatri R, Mahurkar AA, Song Y, Taylor RJ, Zalzman M. Reprogramming Chromosome Ends by Functional Histone Acetylation. Int J Mol Sci. 2024
    8. Kumar A, Brown RA, Benyamin Roufaeil D, Gupta A, Lipford EL, Muthusamy D, Hertzano R, Lowe T, Stains JP, and Zalzman M. Tissue-On-Demand: DeepFreeze 3D-biofabrication and storage of multilayered, large-scale human-tissue analogs. Advanced Science. 2024. 11(11): 2306683.


    Research Interests

    Epigenetic Regulation and Chromatin Dynamics
    My primary research interest lies in understanding the complex mechanisms of epigenetic regulation and chromatin dynamics during stem cell differentiation and chromatin reprograming. I am particularly fascinated by how these processes govern cell lifespan and cellular identity. My work focuses on elucidating the roles of histone modifications and chromatin remodeling complexes in maintaining stemness potency and driving differentiation in normal and cancer stem cells.

    Pluripotency mechanisms and their applications
    I am deeply interested in the biology of pluripotent stem cells, including embryonic stem cells (ESCs) and induced pluripotent stem cells (iPSCs). My research aims to uncover the molecular underpinnings that maintain stem cell pluripotency and govern their differentiation capabilities. I explore the application of stem cell reprogramming techniques to generate 3D disease models.

    Cancer Stem Cells and Tumorigenesis
    Another key area of my research is the study of cancer stem cells (CSCs) and their role in tumorigenesis and therapy resistance. I am particularly focused on head and neck squamous cell carcinoma (HNSCC) and the epigenetic alterations that sustain CSC properties. My goal is to identify novel epigenetic targets to develop more effective cancer stem cell targeting therapies.

    Advanced Genomic and Epigenomic Technologies
    I am passionate about leveraging advanced genomic and epigenomic technologies, such as single-cell sequencing, chromatin immunoprecipitation sequencing (ChIP-seq), and ATAC-seq, to gain deeper insights into cellular heterogeneity and gene regulation. We further employ CRISPR/Cas9-based systems, to understand the role of epigenetic marks during stem cell reprograming and differentiation. These cutting-edge techniques are integral to my research in mapping epigenetic landscapes and understanding chromatin accessibility during and after stem cell differentiation.

    Regenerative Medicine and Disease Modeling
    My research also encompasses the application of stem cells in regenerative medicine and disease modeling. I aim to create accurate models of human diseases through bioengineering of 3D tissue mimetics using DeepFreeze 3D (DF-3D) printing. Our innovative technology enables the fabrication of complex tissue structures that closely mimic the native architecture and functionality of human tissues, offering promising applications in regenerative medicine and disease modeling. This interest extends to a range of diseases.

    Interdisciplinary Collaborations
    I strongly believe in the power of interdisciplinary collaborations to drive innovation and advance our understanding of complex biological systems. My research interests in stem cell biology and application are inherently interdisciplinary, spanning molecular biology, bioengineering, bioinformatics, and clinical sciences. I am committed to fostering collaborative projects that integrate diverse expertise to address challenging scientific questions.

    Awards and Affiliations

    2020-Present  Member, Pre-clerkship committee

    2020-Present  Member, Advancement Committee.

    2020-Present  Member, Curriculum Coordination Committee.

    2020-2024  Biochemistry Unit Lead, Foundations course to first year medical students. 

    2020-Present Faculty member, Marlene and Stewart Greenebaum Cancer Center, University of Maryland School of Medicine, Baltimore, MD.

    2020-Present Faculty member, Molecular Medicine Program, University of Maryland Graduate School, Baltimore.

    2019 Member, Core Course and Curriculum subcommittee, GPILS Advisory Committee, University of Maryland School of Medicine.

    2019-Present  Associate Editor Molecular Carcinogenesis.

    2017-Present Advisory Board member, ScienceAbroad. ScienceAbroad is an international non-profit organization that form networking connections for scientists worldwide.

    2015-Present  Assistant Professor (tenure track); Department. of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, Maryland School of Medicine.

    2015-2016 Program official and review committee member, ScienceAbroad-IAC Young Scientist award.

    2014-Present  Associate member, Marlene and Stewart Greenebaum Cancer Center, University of Maryland School of Medicine, Baltimore, MD

    2014 Marlene and Stewart Greenebaum Cancer Center University of Maryland School of Medicine Nominee for the Pew-Stewart Scholars for Cancer Research.

    2013 Reviewer. UMB-UMCP Seed Grant. University of Maryland.

    2012-2015 Assistant Professor (non-tenure track); Dept. of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, University of Maryland School of Medicine.

    2012-present  Faculty member, UMB/SOM Center for Stem Cell Biology & Regenerative Medicine, University of Maryland School of Medicine, Baltimore, MD

    2012-present  Member, American Society of Gene and Cell Therapy

    2012  Award committee, Genome Stability Meeting, Haifa, Israel.

    2012-present  Committee member, ASBMB advocacy congressional visit.

    2012-2017 Chair of Seminar Committee. Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology. UMSOM

    2010-2017  Baltimore Regional Manager, BioAbroad

    2009-present  Member, International Society for Stem Cell Research

    2007–2012  Postdoctoral Fellow, DGAS, Laboratory of Genetics, National Institute on Aging, NIH.

    2005-2007 Member, European Society for Gene and Cell Therapy


    Honors and Awards

    2013   UMSOM Nominee for the Ellison Medical Foundation New Scholar Award.

    2012   Bioabroad Award for Young Investigators, awarded for scientific excellence.

    2011   D-Cure Competitive International Travel Award. awarded for excellence

    2010  Women Scientific Advisors (WSA) Investigator Award, National Institute on Aging, NIH, awarded for scientific achievements.

    2006  European Society for Gene and Cell Therapy (ESGCT) Young Investigator Award, awarded for excellence, supported by Journal of Gene Medicine.

    2005  David and Paulina Trotsky Memorial Fund, Young Scientist Award, awarded for excellence.

    2003  Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation (JDRF), Competitive travel Award.

    2001-2006 Graduate Student Scholarship, Department of Human Molecular Genetics, Tel Aviv University, Tel Aviv, Israel.


    Grants and Contracts

    NINDS/NIH, 5U01DC013817

    NIAMS/NIH R01 AR070819 - PI

    NINDS/ NIH R21 NS095088 - PI

    NIGMS/NIH R01 R01 GM118837 – Co-I

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