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Wellcome-MRC Cambridge Stem Cell Institute


Dr Joo-Hyeon Lee

Stem cells and niches


Laboratory: Cambridge Stem Cell Institute, Jeffrey Cheah Biomedical Centre

Departmental Affiliation: Physiology, Development and Neuroscience



Joo-Hyeon Lee established her own research group at the Cambridge Stem Cell Institute in 2016 and focuses on understanding the mechanisms of stem cell fate in the lung. Her lab asks fundamental questions involving how stem cells sense environmental changes and determine their cell fate, and how niches develop and remodel the local environment during lung regeneration and the early stages of disease progression utilising combined in vitro organoids, in vivo genetic models, single-cell profiling, and clonal biophysical modelling. 
Joo-Hyeon is currently Faculty member at the Department of Physiology, Development, and Neuroscience, University of Cambridge and was awarded a Wellcome Sir Henry Dale Fellowship, a ERC starting grant, a SUHF grant, and a Wellcome Senior Research Fellowship.



Wellcome Trust, Suh Kyungbae Foundation, BBSRC, AstraZeneca


Lee research

 Clonal expansion of lineage labelled progenitor cells in mouse lungs (Image credit: Catherine Dabrowska)  



What are the regulatory mechanisms that control homeostatic turnover, and how do their perturbation contribute to disease progression? The lung is a very slow cycling organ that is composed of diverse epithelial and stromal cell types, but has capacity to rapidly regenerate new cells after injury. Lee group is trying to understand how stem cells respond to different signals from their local environment and orchestrate the changes in chromatin, transcription, translation, and cellular dynamics in homeostasis and injury repair. We investigate the regulatory networks that need to be turned on and off at the right time and place for stem cells to become activated and generate specialised cell types during regeneration. We are also interested in defining cellular heterogeneity and plasticity during this process. Elucidating the normal process of lung dynamics will provide us a foundation to understand lung diseases and cancer. We couple ex vivo 3D organoid cultures of human and mouse lungs with genetic tools, in vivo transgenic mouse models with lineage tracing techniques, quantitative mathematic modelling of clonal dynamics, and bioinformatics at the single cell level.


 Lee Group

Group Members

Jinwook Choi, Vishal Menon, Sagar Varankar, Christopher Lambert, Frances England, JaeHak Bang, Erik Cardoso



If you are interested in working with us, please contact us at


Plain English

Our interest is focused on understanding how the diverse epithelial and stromal cells are maintained for a lifetime and regenerated following injury in the lungs. We study the regulatory mechanisms that balance stem cell maintenance and differentiation, and how their perturbation contribute to disease progression.


Key Publications


The Lee Group

Lee Group members: 

JaeHak Bang
Erik Cardoso
Jakub Chudziak
Frances England
Christopher Lambert
Sagar Varankar

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