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Wellcome-MRC Cambridge Stem Cell Institute



Professor Phil Jones

Epidermal and Oesophageal stem cells

Affiliation: Wellcome Sanger Institute



Our group studies how normal cell behaviour is altered by mutation in aging and the earliest stages of cancer development. We focus on normal skin epidermis and the lining of the oesophagus which acquire a high burden of mutations by middle age. Our approach combines deep sequencing of normal human tissues with transgenic mouse models, novel 3D culture methods, gene editing, live imaging, single cell analysis and quantitative modelling. We have discovered that normal tissues are extensively colonised by mutant cells. Some mutations increase cancer risk while others may decrease it. We are now researching how to redirect evolutionary selection to reduce the burden of the most deleterious mutations.

We focus on three key areas:

  • Mutations in normal tissues
  • How mutant cells take over normal tissues
  • Tracking mutant cell behaviour

Phil Jones a Senior Group Leader at the Wellcome Sanger Institute, Professor of Cancer Development at the University of Cambridge and is also a Consultant in Medical Oncology at Addenbrooke’s Hospital.


Additional links

CRUK page


CSCI collaborators

Maria Alcolea