Ben Ohlstein received his bachelor’s degree in liberal arts from the University of Texas at Austin in 1989 and his M.D. and Ph.D. degrees from UT Southwestern Medical Center in 2002. He completed a postdoctoral fellowship at the Carnegie Institution in Baltimore, Maryland, in Allan C. Spradling’s laboratory in 2007. During his time in the Spradling laboratory, he demonstrated that the adult Drosophila midgut, like the adult human intestine, is maintained by multipotent stem cells and that the notch signaling pathway plays a crucial role in how stem cells give rise to enterocytes and enteroendocrine cells.

After his postdoctoral studies, Dr. Ohlstein joined Columbia University Medical Center where he was an Associate Professor of Genetics and Development and a member of the Columbia Stem Cell Initiative. He is a Howard Hughes Medical Institute Faculty Scholar. In 2020, Dr. Ohlstein joined Children’s Medical Center Research Institute at UT Southwestern as an Associate Professor in Pediatrics.

The Ohlstein laboratory is working to better understand the mechanisms that guide normal and abnormal tissue functions, particularly in gastrointestinal organs such as the small and large intestines and stomach, using the Drosophila intestine as a model. Ultimately, a better understanding of the biology of the Drosophila intestinal stem cells will help with diagnosis, treatment, and cures of various conditions that affect the human gastrointestinal tract.


University of Texas-Austin (1989), Arts
Medical School
Univ of Tx Southwestern Med Ct (2002), Medicine
Graduate School
Univ of Tx Southwestern Med Ct (2002), Cell Biology

Research Interest

  • Cancer stem cell biology
  • Gastrointestinal disorders
  • Intestinal stem cell self-renewal and maintenance
  • Stem Cell Niches


Featured Publications LegendFeatured Publications

Apical-basal polarity precisely determines intestinal stem cell number by regulating Prospero threshold.
Wu S, Yang Y, Tang R, Zhang S, Qin P, Lin R, Rafel N, Lucchetta EM, Ohlstein B, Guo Z, Cell Rep 2023 Feb 42 2 112093
Monitoring Gut Acidification in the Adult Drosophila Intestine.
Abu F, Ohlstein B, J Vis Exp 2021 Oct 176
Amitosis of Polyploid Cells Regenerates Functional Stem Cells in the Drosophila Intestine.
Lucchetta EM, Ohlstein B, Cell Stem Cell 2017 05 20 5 609-620.e6
Maintenance of the adult Drosophila intestine: all roads lead to homeostasis.
Guo Z, Lucchetta E, Rafel N, Ohlstein B, Curr. Opin. Genet. Dev. 2016 10 40 81-86
Stem cell regulation. Bidirectional Notch signaling regulates Drosophila intestinal stem cell multipotency.
Guo Z, Ohlstein B, Science 2015 Nov 350 6263
Specification of regional intestinal stem cell identity during Drosophila metamorphosis.
Driver I, Ohlstein B, Development 2014 May 141 9 1848-56
Injury-induced BMP signaling negatively regulates Drosophila midgut homeostasis.
Guo Z, Driver I, Ohlstein B, J. Cell Biol. 2013 Jun 201 6 945-61
The Drosophila midgut: a model for stem cell driven tissue regeneration.
Lucchetta EM, Ohlstein B, Wiley Interdiscip Rev Dev Biol 2012 Sep-Oct 1 5 781-8
Nonautonomous regulation of Drosophila midgut stem cell proliferation by the insulin-signaling pathway.
Choi NH, Lucchetta E, Ohlstein B, Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. U.S.A. 2011 Nov 108 46 18702-7
Cell renewal in adjoining intestinal and tracheal epithelia of Manduca.
Nardi JB, Bee CM, Miller LA, Mathur D, Ohlstein B, J. Insect Physiol. 2011 Apr 57 4 487-93

Honors & Awards

  • Howard Hughes Medical Institute Faculty Scholar
  • Hirschl Trust Research Scientist Award
  • Harold and Golden Lamport Award in Basic Sciences
  • Paul A. Marks Research Award
  • Searle Scholars Research Award
  • Alice Bohmfalk Trust Medical Award