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.


Nuclear Reprogramming and the Cancer Genome - La Jolla  February 21st - 23rd, 2016

A Nature conference

Understanding how cell fate is controlled is fundamental to all aspects of biology. Potentially, there are many states that cells could adopt based on thousands of genetic and epigenetic elements, but in reality cell fate is constrained by signals from surrounding cells and environments. One clear example of this was shown by the transfer of a nucleus from a melanoma cell into a mouse oocyte, which produced a totipotent embryonic cell. Why and how does this reprogramming occur? This conference aims to bring together researchers working on nuclear reprogramming, cancer genomics and the functional analysis of cancer cells to see just how much we can learn from one another.

For program and registration

BIRAX Regenerative Medicine Initiative Conference - 11th - 12th April, 2016

Mathematical Institute

This conference co-sponsored by the British Council and BIRAX, in association with the Oxford Stem Cell Institute, aims to bring together leading UK and Israeli scientists working on regenerative medicine.

Topics covered include:

STEM CELL BIOLOGY: Lessons from Development







For a full program

CRUK Oxford Cancer Centre Syposium - 10th June, 2016

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

For program and free registration