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Meritxell Huch

2017 HuchMeri Huch PhD, Wellcome Sir Henry Dale Fellow, Wellcome-Beit Prize Fellow (2014), Member of the Department of Physiology, Development and Neuroscience.

Europe PMC | Pubmed


University of Cambridge film 'Fighting cancer: animal research at Cambridge' featuring Meri Huch.

 2013: Winner of the NC3Rs Award.

2016: Winner of The Hamdan Award for Medical Research Excellence, from the Shaikh Hamdan Bin Rashid Al Maktoum Award for Medical Sciences.

2018: Winner of the Women in Cell Biology Early Career Medal, from the British Society for Cell Biology. 

2018: Highly Commended 'Researcher of the Year', Cambridge Independent Science and Technology Awards.


Stem cells and tissue regeneration in liver and pancreas

How can we repair diseased liver and pancreas? In adult mammals, many tissues have the capacity to self-renew to maintain healthy function in homeostasis and after damage.

But the capacity for cell turnover varies. In the intestine and stomach, adult stem cell populations are constantly replenishing, while in the liver and pancreas cell proliferation is limited. Chronic liver disease and pancreatic cancer are strongly associated with inflammation and tissue damage, which activates stem cells and progenitor cells to repair lost tissue.

Our goal is to understand the activation mechanism in order to harness it for therapeutic strategies. We have established a novel culture system, liver organoids, which allows the massive and infinite expansion of mouse liver cells into three-dimensional structures that resemble functional liver tissue. When transplanted into a mouse model of liver disease (‘FAH –/–’), these cells partially rescued the liver phenotype.

We also work with pancreas cells and diseased human liver cells in culture, and are testing how well our models can represent human pathology in a dish.

Selected publications:

• Human primary liver cancer-derived organoid cultures for disease modeling and drug screening. Broutier L, Mastrogiovanni G, Verstegen MM, Francies HE, Gavarró LM, Bradshaw CR, Allen GE, Arnes-Benito R, Sidorova O, Gaspersz MP, Georgakopoulos N, Koo BK, Dietmann S, Davies SE, Praseedom RK, Lieshout R, IJzermans JNM, Wigmore SJ, Saeb-Parsy K, Garnett MJ, van der Laan LJ, Huch M. Nature Medicine (2017) Dec;23(12):1424-1435. doi: 10.1038/nm.4438. Epub 2017 Nov 13. 29131160

• The hope and the hype of organoid research. Huch M, Knoblich JA, Lutolf MP, Martinez-Arias A. Development. (2017) Mar 15;144(6):938-941. PMID: 28292837

• Culture and establishment of self-renewing human and mouse adult liver and pancreas 3D organoids and their genetic manipulation. Broutier L, Andersson-Rolf A, Hindley CJ, Boj SF, Clevers H, Koo BK, Huch M. Nature Protocols (2016) Sep; 11(9): 1724-43. PMID: 27560176

• Long-Term Culture of Genome-Stable Bipotent Stem Cells from Adult Human Liver. Huch M, Gehart H, van Boxtel R, Hamer K, Blokzijl F, Verstegen MM, Ellis E, van Wenum M, Fuchs SA, de Ligt J, van de Wetering M, Sasaki N, Boers SJ, Kemperman H, de Jonge J, Ijzermans JN, Nieuwenhuis EE, Hoekstra R, Strom S, Vries RR, van der Laan LJ, Cuppen E, Clevers H. Cell (2015) Jan 15;160(1-2):299-312. PMID: 25533785

In vitro expansion of single Lgr5+ liver stem cells induced by Wnt-driven regeneration. Huch M, Dorrell C, Boj SF, van Es JH, Li VSW, van de Wetering M, Sato T, Hamer K, Sasaki N, Finegold MJ, Haft A, Vries R, Grompe M, Clevers H.  Nature (2013) Feb 14;494: 247-50. PMID: 23354049


Video: Meet Meri Huch


Luigi Aloia • Robert Arnes • Lucia Cordero Espinoza • Nikitas Georgakopoulos • Patricia Inacio • Mewanthi Flaminia Kaluthantrige Don • Gianmarco Mastrogiovanni • Mikel McKie • Kathy Oswald • Nicole Prior • Bernhard Strauss