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Wellcome-MRC Cambridge Stem Cell Institute


Professor Elisa Laurenti

Human haematopoietic stem cells biology in health and disease


Laboratory: Cambridge Stem Cell Institute, Jeffrey Cheah Biomedical Centre

Departmental Affiliation: Haematology



Elisa Laurenti received her Masters in Biological Sciences from the University of Bologna in 2003. She then undertook her PhD under the supervision of Prof. Andreas Trumpp at the Swiss Institute for Cancer Research in Lausanne, Switzerland. In 2010 she joined Dr John Dick’s laboratory at University Health Network (Toronto, Canada) where she became interested in the study of human hematopoietic stem cells.

In 2014, she established her own research group at the Cambridge Stem Cell Institute and Department of Haematology of the University of Cambridge. She is currently a Wellcome Trust and Royal Society Sir Henry Dale Research Fellow. In 2021, she received the International Society for Experimental Hematology Janet Rowley Award which recognises outstanding early career principal investigators and their contributions to the field of haematology. 

Elisa is the Academic Champion for Public Engagement at the Cambridge Stem Cell Institute and chairs the Public Engagement Steering Committee.



Wellcome, Royal Society, BBSRC, Medical Research Council, Kay Kendall Leukaemia Fund, Birax


Laurenti research 2020

Left: image of different blood cell types originated from a single human haematopoietic stem cell in vitro (credit: Aditi Vedi); Right: the transcriptional landscape of the human haematopoietic hierarchy, derived from single cell transcriptomics (credit: Hugo Bastos, Nicole Mende).



Haematopoietic stem cells (HSC) are responsible for life-long blood production. They are the best-studied stem cell type owing to decades of research with animal models. Despite the high incidence of blood-related diseases, and accumulating evidence that certain aspects of HSC biology are species-specific, very little is known on human HSC. The Laurenti laboratory develops integrated approaches combining in vitro and in vivo single cell assays, transcriptomics and bioinformatics to study human HSC and progenitor cells. The lab is currently investigating how cell cycle regulation, inflammation and ageing, processes intimately linked to disease initiation, affect human HSC unique molecular and functional properties. Understanding how the cellular and molecular composition of the HSC/progenitor compartment changes in stress conditions and throughout a human lifetime has important implications for regenerative medicine and treatment of blood cancers. 


Plain English

Every day a trillion blood cells are produced in our body. This amazing turnover is achieved thanks to blood stem cells. These cells have the unique capacity to produce all blood cells in healthy individuals but also after injury or infection. Their function is vital, because if impaired, either blood production fails or cancer arises. Our laboratory thus focuses on these 2 important questions:

  • How are human blood stem cells different from other blood cell types?
  • What is the impact of age and disease on human blood stem cell function? For this we measure human blood stem cell responses to a number of signals, compare them to other blood cells and identify specific genes that regulate their behaviour. We also study what goes wrong in blood stem cells when there is inflammation, in the elderly and during the early stages of cancer development. Understanding how blood formation occurs in humans in all of these contexts we hope will help design new therapies against a range of diseases. 



Find more description of the lab's published scRNAseq datasets (Mende et al., Blood, 2022) and user-friendly web apps to browse the data below.

  • The ShinyApp for exploring the scRNA-seq landscapes comparing healthy BM, spleen and non-mobilised PB is accessible via this link.
  • The link to access the scRNA-seq landscapes comparing G-CSF mobilised PB to BM and non-mobilised PB is accessible here.


Laurenti Group photo


Key Publications

  • Mitchell E, Chapman MS, Williams N, Dawson K, Mende N, Calderbank EF, […] Saeb-Parsy K, Green A, Nangalia J*, Laurenti E*, Campbell P*, Clonal dynamics of haematopoiesis across the human lifespan, Nature, in press

  • Mende N, Bastos HP, Santoro A, Mahbubani KT, Ciaurro V, Calderbank EF, Quiroga Londoño M, Sham K, Mantica G, Morishima T, Mitchell E, Lidonnici MR, Meier-Abt F, Hayler D, Jardine L, Curd A, Haniffa M, Ferrari G, Takizawa H, Wilson NK, Gottgens B, Saeb-Parsy K, Frontini M, Laurenti E. Unique molecular and functional features of extramedullary hematopoietic stem and progenitor cell reservoirs in humans. Blood. 2022 Jan 24:blood.2021013450. 

  • Popescu D., Botting R.A., Stephenson E., Green K., Webb, S., Jardine L., Calderbank E.F., […] Regev A.D., Chedotal A., Roberts I., Gottgens B., Behjati S.*, Laurenti E.*, Teichmann S.D.*, Haniffa M.*, Decoding human fetal liver haematopoiesis. Nature, 574, 2019, 365-371.

* Equal contribution by these authors 

The Laurenti Group

Laurenti Group members: 

Shaeezmeen Basheer
Hugo Bastos
Emily Calderbank
Ahmed Elwaraky
Lori Kregar

Wenjuan Ma
Laura Magnani
Giovanna Mantica
Diego Lopez-Leon
Julia Sanchez-Viladevall

If you are interested in working with the Laurenti Group, please contact