Kent headshot

Dr David Kent

Single cell fate choice in normal and malignant stem cells


Laboratory Location:

Cambridge Stem Cell Institute, Clifford Allbutt Building, Cambridge Biomedical Campus

Departmental Affiliation:

Department of Haematology


David Kent earned a B.Sc. in Genetics and English Literature at the University of Western Ontario, Canada (1999-2003) and obtained his Ph.D. in normal adult blood stem cell biology at the University of British Columbia, Canada (2003-2009).  His postdoctoral research was at the University of Cambridge where he primarily studied malignant blood stem cell biology.  His research group studies fate choice in single blood stem cells and how changes in their regulation lead to cancers. David is currently the Stem Cell Institute’s Public Engagement Champion and has a long history of public engagement and outreach including the creation of The Black Hole, a website and blog that provides information on and analysis of issues related to the education and training of scientists.


Research: Bloodwise, European Haematology Association, Rosetrees Trust

Public Engagement: Royal Society

External links

Kent research 2-1ratio
Upon division, stem cells can make stem cells, non-stem cells, or one of each. Dysregulation of this balance is the basis from which our tissues age/degenerate or develop into cancers.


One of the simplest and most provocative concepts in all of stem cell biology is how a single stem cell can give rise to copies of itself as well as daughter cells that can give rise to any of the highly specialized cell types of a given tissue.   As a population, this decision making process must exist in a tightly regulated balance in order to avoid tissue degeneration (too few stem cells) or progression to cancer (too many stem cells). Our lab focuses on how aberrant cell fate choice drives malignancy on a single cell level with three main questions:

1) What are the molecular drivers of stem cell heterogeneity?

2) Which molecules are asymmetrically partitioned when an adult blood stem cell divides and are they related to stem cell function?

3) What are the implications of stem cell heterogeneity for disease?

Areas of particular focus include normal stem cell fate choice, stem cells in myeloid malignancies, physical biology of stem cells, and tools/approaches for expanding blood stem cells outside the body.

Kent group 2-1ratio

Nina Friesgaard Oebro

Jiangbing Li

Caroline Oedekoven

Mairi Shepherd

Job opportunities in the Kent lab

Motivated students, postdocs, and clinicians are always encouraged to contact David directly ( to explore potential opportunities to join the lab.

Plain English

Adult stem cells must balance the types of cells they create in order to provide enough mature cells in the body while also maintaining the stem cell population. These decisions are made on an individual cell-by-cell basis, but as a population, stem cell fate choice must be balanced. Our lab studies how such decisions are made on a single cell level and how poor regulation of these processes leads to cancer.

Key Publications

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