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School of the Biological Sciences

From the moment we are conceived and throughout life, our cells and tissues encounter various challenges that impact our health. Members of our theme study normal and disrupted developmental processes with the aim of living healthy for longer, and improving reproductive health. With over 80 different research groups focusing on topics ranging from reproduction to cancer and using invertebrate, vertebrate and plant models we are in a unique position to realise our aim.

Grand Challenge Topic


Complex tissue regeneration across scales and systems

Embryos and plants show us that multi-tissue regeneration is possible, however complex animals and humans have mostly lost this capability. Researchers in Cambridge are working together to learn lessons across tissues, systems and scales to make human limb and organ regeneration possible. Read more

Recent Discoveries

Live cells discovered in human breast milk could aid breast cancer research

Researchers have explored the cellular changes that occur in human mammary tissue in lactating and non-lactating women, offering insight into the relationship between pregnancy, lactation and breast cancer.

The study was led by researchers in Dr Walid Khaled's lab from the Wellcome-MRC Cambridge Stem Cell Institute and the Department of Pharmacology. Breast tissue is dynamic, changing over time during puberty, pregnancy, breastfeeding and aging. The study focuses on the changes that take place during lactation by investigating cells found in human milk. Read

Wider Impact

Production of high quality growth factors for regenerative medicine

Stem cell research is providing new avenues for both therapy and diagnosis but has been limited by the low availability of high-quality, affordable and consistent growth factors, which are required to maintain stem cells in culture and to drive their differentiation to specialised cell types.

Using his expertise in basic research on growth factors, Marko Hyvönen has developed a platform that represents a step-change in the production of growth factors. His novel method for producing large amounts of high-quality growth factors led to the establishment of his spin-out company Qkine in 2016. He developed the method originally to generate large amounts of high quality Activin A, a growth factor that through specific cell surface receptors controls many cellular behaviours, making it of considerable importance in stem cell research and its clinical outputs. The new production method does not rely on the use of animal-derived products, which means that these processes could be used for production of clinical grade human stem cell cultures. Read

Theme Leads

Dino Giussani

Physiology, Development and Neuroscience

Walid Khaled

Pharmacology/ Cambridge Stem Cell Institute

Emma Rawlins

Physiology, Development and Neuroscience/ Gurdon Institute

Ben Steventon


Learn More

Members of the School can find out more about the Research Themes on the School Information Hub.

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