Sally Cowley

Head, James Martin Stem Cell Facility , Wellcome Career Re-Entry Fellow

Human pluripotent stem cells

Web: Personal site
Department: Sir William Dunn School of Pathology

Sally Cowley

I Head the James Martin Stem Cell Facility (within the Sir William Dunn School of Pathology, University of Oxford, and part of the Oxford Stem Cell Institute). This was established by William James and myself in 2008, and it has since received substantial funding from the Oxford Martin School. We have expertise in human Embryonic Stem cells and human induced Pluripotent Stem (iPS) cell derivation, culture, genetic modification and differentiation. iPS cells derived from patients with genetic disease offers a new, hugely exciting opportunity to model human diseases ‘in a dish’, and this is particularly important for modelling neurological conditions,  where patient material is generally unavailable until after death.  We share our expertise with the Oxford research community and beyond, enabling research groups to embark on technically challenging pluripotent stem cells projects that might otherwise be beyond their resources. Members of OSCI are welcome to contact me at  to discuss potential collaborations. The facility currently employs 3 research assistants dedicated to generating quality-controlled reagents and cells for collaborators. Examples of current projects include:  the generation of iPSc-derived macrophages from Chronic Granulomatous Disease patients, funded by the CGD Research Trust; stem cell-derived macrophages as a model for dissecting HIV-macrophage interactions; generating iPS cells from Parkinson’s Disease patients as part of a large scale Oxford Parkinson’s Disease Centre research programme funded by Parkinson’s UK (in collaboration with Richard Wade-Martins).


A graduate of Natural Sciences at Cambridge, Sally’s began her research career working on host-pathogen interactions in mycobacteria (Ph.D, 1990, Royal College of Surgeons, University of London, and later at AHRI, Ethiopia). Her post-doctoral work (New England Deaconess Hospital, Boston, and Institute of Cancer Research, London) centred around signal transduction pathways involved in differentiation: She identified and cloned a novel tyrosine kinase, MATK (expressed predominantly in megakaryocytes and implicated in their differentiation); and was the first to demonstrate that the protein kinase MEK (/MKK) is downstream from the product of the important cancer associated genes Ras and Raf, and is critical for signal transduction pathways leading to differentiation and to tumorigenic transformation. Following a career break to raise children, she obtained a Wellcome Trust Career Re-entry fellowship and joined the Sir William Dunn School of Pathology in 2007.

Research Areas

  • Human Embryonic Stem Cells