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Personal profile

Research interests

My lab is mainly interested in the general phenomenon of cellular reprogramming. Reprogramming is defined as the conversion of one cell type (including stem cells) to another.

We have developed a number of models for the reprogramming of pancreatic cells to liver cells and the reverse, liver to pancreas transformation and for the conversion of oesophagus to intestine (see selected publications).

Studying cellular reprogramming will help us to:

  1. Understand the normal developmental biology of the cells that interconvert.
  2. Identify transcription factors that could be used to differentiate stem cells for therapeutic transplantation and
  3. Gain insight into how certain cancers develop.

Developmental Biology

How does dissecting the cellular and molecular basis of reprogramming help with understanding normal embryonic development? The answer is that the gene (transcription factor) that induces reprogramming is also probably important in distinguishing the two tissues during development. We are currently developing this research to identify developmentally important genes.

Stem Cell Therapy

Stem cells are now entering an exciting phase of research and attention has recently focused on the ability to utilise stem cells as therapeutic modalities. If we can identify key transcription factors (which we call master switch genes) that will induce conversion of one cell type to another, we may be able to use these genes to induce the differentiation of stem cells.

Cancer Research

We now know that in certain pathological conditions reprogramming may predispose to cancer. Perhaps one of the best known examples is Barrett’s metaplasia. In this condition intestinal epithelium appears in the oesophagus. Patients with Barrett’s metaplasia have a greater risk of developing oesophageal adenocarcinoma. In order to gain a better understanding of the disease, we wish to determine the steps leading from normal oesophageal epithelium to intestinal epithelium.

Current lab members:

  • Heather Bone
  • Christopher Brimson (joint with Dr Makoto Furutani-Seiki)
  • Zoe Burke
  • Ed Carter (joint with Professor Steve Ward)
  • James Corbett
  • Yu Chen
  • Leonard Griffiths
  • Barbara Rees
  • Caroline Sangan
  • Michael Storm
  • Nelly Wung 

Expertise related to UN Sustainable Development Goals

In 2015, UN member states agreed to 17 global Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) to end poverty, protect the planet and ensure prosperity for all. This person’s work contributes towards the following SDG(s):

  • SDG 3 - Good Health and Well-being


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Collaborations and top research areas from the last five years

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