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Wellcome-MRC Cambridge Stem Cell Institute



Professor Bertie Göttgens

Cellular decision making in normal and leukaemic blood stem cells


Laboratory: Cambridge Stem Cell Institute, Jeffrey Cheah Biomedical Centre

Departmental Affiliation: Haematology



Bertie Göttgens currently serves as Director of the Wellcome-MRC Cambridge Stem Cell Institute.

He graduated from Tübingen University in 1992 with a degree in biochemistry.  He received his DPhil in biological sciences from the University of Oxford in 1994 and then proceeded to a post-doc position in the Department of Haematology, University of Cambridge, between 1994-2001.  

Between 2002-2007 he was a Leukaemia Research Fund Lecturer in the Department of Haematology, Cambridge. He was then a University Lecturer, and subsequently a Reader in Haematology, between 2007-2011. 

Since October 2011, Bertie has been Professor of Molecular Haematology, University of Cambridge.



MRC, Wellcome, Blood Cancer UK, Cancer Research UK, NIH, Aging Biology Foundation



Gottgens research 2018

Reconstruction of the haematopoietic differentiation landscape from 45,000 single cell transcriptomes generated from mouse bone marrow (lineage negative / Sca1 positive / Kit positive and lineage negative / Kit positive fractions). Each circle represents a single cell, with the circle colours reporting the results of unsupervised Louvain clustering. The labels indicate the stem/progenitor territory as well as entry points for differentiation trajectories into seven distinct blood lineages.



The Göttgens group uses a combination of experimental and computational approaches to study how blood cells develop, and how mutations in stem/progenitor cells can cause leukaemia. Over the past 20 years, this integrated approach has delivered several key advancements in the application of genomics to stem cell biology. To begin with, the group illustrated the power of comparative genomics in pinpointing distant gene regulatory elements, followed by the first molecular characterisation of enhancer elements active within haematopoietic stem cells. Subsequent construction of experimentally validated regulatory network models for blood stem and progenitor cells was complemented with comprehensive genome-wide transcription factor maps to provide a holistic view of stem cell regulatory landscapes. Early adoption of single-cell expression profiling techniques illuminated stem cell transcriptional heterogeneity and delivered the first organism-scale single cell maps for gastrulation and early organogenesis. Lastly, the combination of persistent labelling of stem cells with time-series single cell genomics produced the first real-time, quantitative model of in vivo mouse bone marrow haematopoiesis.


Current research focuses on:

(i) early blood development
(ii) dissection of blood stem and progenitor cell differentiation
(iii) functional consequences of leukaemogenic mutations in leukaemia stem/progenitor cells
(iv) computational modelling of native and perturbed haematopoiesis


 Gottgens Lab 2020

Gottgens Group photo


Plain English

Blood stem cells ensure the constant supply of new blood cells throughout a person’s lifetime. The normal function of blood stem cells critically depends on the fine tuning of which genes should be active at any given time. Moreover, a large number of leukaemias arise, when this fine balance of gene activities is disturbed. Through our research, we want to answer the following questions: 

• What are the mechanisms that regulate gene activities to ensure normal blood stem cell function? 

• Can we identify new strategies to treat leukaemia by reversing the disturbed balance of gene activities? 

To answer these questions, we use a combination of experimental and computational approaches. This has allowed us to discover how individual regulatory genes are connected to form complex networks and how perturbation of these complex networks can cause leukaemia.


Key Publications


  • Jardine L, Webb S, Goh I, Quiroga Londoño M, Reynolds G, Mather M, Olabi B, Stephenson E, Botting RA, Horsfall D, Engelbert J, Maunder D, Mende N, Murnane C, Dann E, McGrath J, King H, Kucinski I, Queen R, Carey CD, Shrubsole C, Poyner E, Acres M, Jones C, Ness T, Coulthard R, Elliott N, O'Byrne S, Haltalli MLR, Lawrence JE, Lisgo S, Balogh P, Meyer KB, Prigmore E, Ambridge K, Jain MS, Efremova M, Pickard K, Creasey T, Bacardit J, Henderson D, Coxhead J, Filby A, Hussain R, Dixon D, McDonald D, Popescu DM, Kowalczyk MS, Li B, Ashenberg O, Tabaka M, Dionne D, Tickle TL, Slyper M, Rozenblatt-Rosen O, Regev A, Behjati S, Laurenti E, Wilson NK, Roy A, Göttgens B*, Roberts I*, Teichmann SA*, Haniffa M*. Blood and immune development in human fetal bone marrow and Down syndrome. Nature. 2021 Oct;598(7880):327-331. PMCID: PMC7612688
    * joint senior author

  • Stephenson E, Reynolds G, Botting R.A., Calero-Nieto F.J., Morgan M.D., Tuong Z.K., ... Smith K.G.C., Teichmann S.A., Clatworthy M.R., Marioni J.C., Göttgens B*, Haniffa M. Single-cell multi-omics analysis of the immune response in COVID-19. Nat Med. 2021 Apr 20. doi: 10.1038/s41591-021-01329-2. PMCID: PMC8121667  
    * joint senior author






The Göttgens Group

Göttgens Group members:

Melania Barile
Atreyi Biswas
Myriam Haltalli
Rebecca Hannah
Luke Harland
Tomoya Isobe
Sarah Juster
Alison Kennedy
Sarah Kinston
Juan Rubio Lara
Qi Liu

Katherine Sturgess
Bart Theeuwes
Nicola Wilson
Marija Zarocsinceva
Weizhong Zheng