Stem Cells, Regenerative Medicine and Cancer

One of the greatest challenges of the 21st century is disease associated with ageing. Cancer, neurodegeneration and heart disease are all major causes of death and have an enormous impact on quality of life.

Over recent years, a revolution in biology has meant that effective regenerative medicine, using stem cells to replace and repair damaged tissue is now on the horizon. Naturally occurring ‘immortal’ stem cells are present in all tissues of the body and act to replace loss of cells in tissues with rapid turnover, for example in the skin, blood or intestine, or to repair damage as in wound healing.

Harnessing the power of stem cells to regenerate damaged tissue in a range of diseases, or to generate tissue for organ repair following radical surgery, is a key goal. Yet how we can effectively manipulate stem cells for therapeutic use, and how we ensure their survival, for example after transplantation, remain major challenges.

The identification of physiological stem cells that regenerate tissues led to the discovery of stem-like cells in cancer. Cancer stem cells are resistant to therapy and provide a reservoir of cells able to regenerate tumours with their associated genetic heterogeneity, even many years after apparently successful therapy. Understanding the origins of cancer stem cells, how they are activated, and how they can be eradicated are key goals that must be met if we are to develop effective anti-cancer therapies.

The Oxford Stem Cell Institute (OSCI) was established in 2008 with funding from the Oxford Martin School and seeded multiple interdisciplinary collaborations and facilitated applications for substantial external funding. The OSCI comprises over 45 core and affiliated  laboratories across Oxford and recognizes that the development of more effective stem cell and anti-cancer therapies would benefit from cross-disciplinary research that breaks the traditional taxonomic barriers boundaries between cancer, development and regenerative medicine.


Sir Richard Gardner Lecture - Friday 4th November, 2016 16.00

MSCT Lecture Theatre

Thie year the Sir Richard Gardner Lecture will be given by Professor Roger Pedersen, University of Cambridge, on

 "Modelling human gastrulation using pluripotent stem cells"

Professor Pedersen's  work aims to define the molecular basis and genetic basis for the maintenance of the pluripotent status of human embryonic stem cells, and similarly, the basis for their differentiation into the primary body lineages: mesoderm, endoderm and neuroectoderm.

This lecture has been given in previous years by Hans Clevers, Azim Surani, John Gurdon, Fiona Watt , Fred Gage, Martin Evans and Konrad Hochedlinger. 



STUDENT Syposium - November, 11th 2016

Oxford Martin School

All day symposium showcasing presentations from DPhil students from the Jenner Institute, the Structural Genomics Consortium and Ludwig Institute.


CRUK Oxford Cancer Centre Syposium - June 23rd, 2017

Mathematical Institute

The annual Cancer Centre Symposium showcases the strength and breadth of Oxford's cancer research programme and features cross-departmental and interdisciplinary partnerships supporting translational cancer research. The Symposium also provides opportunities to network and establish new collaborations