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.


CRUK Oxford Cancer Centre Symposium - June 23rd, 2017

Saïd Business School

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.For registration see:


Oxford Stem Cell Institute Symposium - June 29th, 2017

Oxford Martin School   13.15 - 18.00

Half a day symposium showcasing presentations by leading scientists in stem cells research from Imperial College London, Barts Cancer Institute, The Francis Crick Institute and University of Oxford.

Speakers include:

Vivian Li - The Crick Institute

Christopher Heeschen - Barts

Michael Schneider -Imperial

For free registration contact:


Ricahrd Gardner Lecture - November 3rd, 2017  Cedric Blanpain

MSTC Auditorium   16.00

Cedric Blanpain is a world leader in stem cell research, noted especially for lineage tracing experiments in cancer and in physiology. His work covers  the origins of cancer, cancer stem  cells and stem cell fate decisions in development and homeostasis.

For examples of his recent work see:


Oxford Transcription and Chromatin Meeting - November 21st and 22nd, 2017

Oxford Martin School

The two-day conference takes place in the prestigious Oxford Martin School  in the heart of Oxford. The meeting arose from the idea to invite scientists in Oxford who work on Transcription and Chromatin with the aim to nucleate ideas and to enhance creative exchange and discussions. Topics ranges from the role of ubiquitin in regulation of transcriptional responses, to the interaction of enhancers and promoters within their natural chromatin landscape, to regulation of transcription by oxygen.