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Wellcome-MRC Cambridge Stem Cell Institute



Professor Walid Khaled


Epithelial cell fate and tumour development


Laboratory Location: Department of Pharmacology

Departmental Affiliation: Department of Pharmacology              



Walid’s team is interested in understanding the early steps of epithelial tumour initiation and how that can be used for early detection and prevention of cancer. In 2007, Walid completed his PhD at the Department of Pathology, Cambridge with Prof. Christine Watson working on mammary gland development. In 2008, he was elected to a Junior Research Fellowship, at King’s College, Cambridge and 2009 joined the Sanger Institute as a Postdoctoral fellow with Dr. Pentao Liu working on BCL11A and Triple Negative Breast Cancer. In 2013, he returned to Cambridge as a Lecturer at the Department of Pharmacology and in 2014 he was awarded a CRUK Career Establishment Award to work on breast epithelial tumour biology followed by a Programme foundation Award in 2021 to continue his study on epithelial tumour initiation. During this period Walid’s team became one of the first to use scRNAseq to identify the cellular changes in the normal and preneoplastic mouse and human mammary gland. He co-leads the Human Breast Cell Atlas initiative. Walid’s team is also working on the cancer resistance mechanisms of the Naked Mole-Rats. Walid is a group leader at the Wellcome-MRC Cambridge Stem Cell Institute, faculty member of the Breast Cancer Programme in the Cambridge Cancer Centre, fellow of Magdalene College, Cambridge, Walid co-leads the Ageing Cluster part of the UKRI, National Mouse Genetics Network and co-leads the Reproduction Development and Lifelong Health research theme within the School of Biological Sciences.


Khaled Research


The use of scRNAseq to identify the different mammary epithelial cell types and how that can help in our understanding of the earliest events required for tumours to develop.


The overall objective of my laboratory is the study and development of more effective therapeutics for aggressive epithelial tumours, namely, triple negative breast cancer (TNBC) and lung squamous carcinoma (LUSC). We have developed several interconnected workstreams focusing on the identification of key drivers of TNBC/LUSC and studying their function in normal development and tumorigenesis. In collaboration with Dr. John Marioni (CRUK CI & EBI) we have recently used single cell RNA sequencing (scRNAseq) to identify the differentiation dynamics of mammary epithelial cells across 4 adult developmental stages (Bach K. et al. Nature Comm. 2017). This new dataset provides novel insights into how mammary epithelial cells organise and develop during adulthood improving our understanding of how breast cancer develops. We are currently applying the same technology to identify the earliest gene expression changes in epithelial and non-epithelial cells in mouse models of breast cancer. These novel scRNAseq efforts are running alongside the lab’s main focus of characterising the transcription factor BCL11A as a TNBC and LUSC oncogene (Khaled W.T.  et al. Nature Comm 2015 and Lazarus K et al. bioAxiv 2017). We have developed multiple mouse models to assess the involvement of BCL11A in initiating TNBC and also identified novel BCL11A protein interactions found only in cancer cells (Pensa S. Lazarus K., Bach K, Santolla M.F. et al unpublished). We recently secured funding from CRUK (Drug Discovery SMERP) to investigate the therapeutic potential of disrupting these cancer specific protein-protein interactions in TNBC and LUSC.

CSCI collaborators

Joo-Hyeon Lee


External Links 


Watch the lab on BBC News - Early warning for breast cancer 
Watch the lab on BBC News - Breast milk research 

The Khaled Group

Khaled Group members: 

Tatiana Abdul Khalek
Catriona Corbishley
Jean Dillon

Anna Munsey
Sara Pensa
Linsey Porter
Patrick Rainford
Austin Reed
Alecia-Jane Twigger