Kim Jensen new portrait

Dr Kim Jensen

Epithelial Development, Maintenance and Regeneration


Laboratory Location:

Wellcome Trust Centre for Stem Cell Research, Jensen Lab Members

Departmental Affiliation:

Kim Jensen is a Wellcome Trust Career Development Fellow. He is a member of the Wellcome Trust Centre for Stem Cell Research and Department of Oncology, University of Cambridge.


Mahalia Page (Ph.D student) • Robert Fordham (Ph.D student)

Kim Jensen received his PhD in molecular biology from the University of Aarhus in 2003. He subsequently joined Professor Fiona Watt’s group at the London Research Institute, Cancer Research UK, as a post-doctoral fellow. Based on cutting edge technologies and analysis of mouse models he went on to identify Lrig1, a negative regulator of receptor tyrosine kinases, as a novel marker of both human and mouse epidermal stem cells. In 2010 Kim received a Wellcome Trust Career Development Fellowship to establish his own group at the University of Cambridge. Here Kim’s group has focused on the role of adult stem cells in tissue homeostasis. In 2013 Kim was awarded an EMBO YIP and also the  Lundbeck Fellowship. During 2013 Kim took up a new position as Associate Professor at the BRIC at the University of Copenhagen whilst retaining a part-time appointment at the Cambridge Stem Cell Institute.

Tel: 01223 761189


Lab Information 

Adult stem cells can be found in most adult tissues. Here they play an important role in tissue maintenance and repair following damage. Stem cells in different organs will behave according to the tissue specific requirements for tissue turnover. Certain tissues like the epithelial lining of the intestine have a high cell turnover, whereas the turnover in the skin is lower. This is however carefully regulated in order to ensure life-long equilibrium of the tissue in question.

 Our work focuses on the epithelium of the skin and the intestine. Stem cells have in both of these tissues been carefully characterised, however, it is still not clear how their behaviour is regulated. We know that their immediate surroundings and neighbours via intrinsic and extrinsic factors play an important role in this regulation. In certain tissue such as the skin, local differences provide the bases for the establishment of multiple distinct populations of stem cells with specific functions. Our goal is to define the functional significance of multiple stem cells compartment and establish how adult epithelial stem cells are regulated during steady state homeostasis. Such regulatory mechanisms are likely to be affected during epithelial disease such as cancer and will constitute prime targets for therapeutic intervention.


Image 1

Fetal EnteroSpheres from an eGFP mouse model. Image: Robert Fordham


KJ_Fig 1

Fig 1: The epidermis contains multiple distinct population of stem cells.

K. Jensen Fig. 2

Fig. 2: A fine balance of extrinsic and intrinsic growth inhibitory and growth promoting factors governs stem cell homeostasis. We have identified Lrig1 as a key negative regulator of stem cell proliferation.

K. Jensen Fig. 3

Fig. 3: Loss of Lrig1 causes a profound lineage-specific proliferation in the epidermis.


Plain English

Adult tissues such as the epidermis and the gut are subject to continuous renewal, as cells are lost whilst they carry out routine functions. Stem cells residing in specific locations are responsible for the constant replenishment of these tissues. The contribution from stem cells to tissue maintenance is tightly regulated to maintain tissue homeostasis. We are studying the regulation of adult stem cells with the aim to identify regulatory factors involved in the development of diseases such as cancer.

Key Publications

  • Wong, V.W.Y, Stange, D.E., Page, M.E., Buczacki, S., Wabik, A., Itami, S., van de Wetering, M., Poulsom, R., Wright, N.A., Trotter, M.W.T., Watt, F.M., Winton, D.J., Clevers, H. and Jensen, K.B. (2012) Lrig1 controls intestinal stem cell homeostasis by negative regulation of ErbB signalling. In press Nature Cell Biology
  • Jensen, K.B., Driskell, R.R. and Watt, F.M. (2010) Assaying proliferation and differentiation capacity of stem cells using disaggregated adult mouse epidermis. Nature Protocols, 5, 898-911
  • Giangreco, A., Jensen, K.B., Takai, Y., Miyoshi, J. and Watt, F.M. (2009) Necl2 regulates epidermal adhesion and wound repair. Development 136, 3505-3514
  • Watt, F.M. and Jensen, K.B. (2009). Epidermal stem cell diversity and quiescence. EMBO Mol Med 1, 260-267
  • Jensen, K.B., Collins, C.A., Nascimento, E., Tan, D.W., Frye, M., Itami, S. and Watt, F.M (2009). Lrig1 expression defines a distinct multipotent stem cell population in mammalian epidermis. Cell Stem Cell, 4, 427-439
  • Jensen, K.B., and Watt, F.M. (2006). Single-cell expression profiling of human epidermal stem and transit-amplifying cells: Lrig1 is a regulator of stem cell quiescence. Proc Natl Acad Sci, 103, 11958-11963

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