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Ben Simons

2017 SimonsBen Simons PhD, Herchel Smith Professor of Physics at the Cavendish Laboratory in Cambridge, Royal Society EP Abraham Research Professor, Associate Group Leader at the Gurdon Institute.

Simons Group website | Europe PMC | Pubmed




Mechanisms of stem cell fate in tissue development, maintenance and disease

How do stem and progenitor cells regulate their fate behaviour to specify and maintain tissues?

In development, tissue precursors must coordinate proliferation and differentiation with collective cell movements to specify organs of the correct size, pattern and composition. In the adult, stem cells must regulate a precise balance between proliferation and differentiation to achieve homeostasis.

To address the mechanisms that regulate stem and progenitor cell fate, we integrate cell lineage tracing approaches and single-cell expression profiling with concepts and methods from statistical physics. Applied to epithelial tissues, our studies have shown how principles of self organisation and emergence provide predictive insights into the cellular mechanisms that regulate tissue development and maintenance.

As well as questioning stem cell identity and the mechanisms that underpin cell fate stochasticity and state flexibility, these studies establish a quantitative platform to investigate pathways leading to tumour initiation and progression.

Selected publications:

• Sánchez-Danés, A et al. (2016) Defining the clonal dynamics leading to mouse skin tumour initiation. Nature; 8 July 2016; DOI: 10.1038/nature19069

• Wuidart A et al. (2016) Quantitative lineage tracing strategies to resolve multipotency in tissue-specific stem cells. Genes Dev. 30(11):1261-77.

• Otani T et al. (2016) 2D and 3D Stem Cell Models of Primate Cortical Development Identify Species-Specific Differences in Progenitor Behavior Contributing to Brain Size. Cell Stem Cell 18(4): 467-80.

• Chabab S et al. (2016) Uncovering the Number and Clonal Dynamics of Mesp1 Progenitors during Heart Morphogenesis. Cell Reports 14(1): 1–10.

• Roshan A et al. (2016) Human keratinocytes have two interconvertible modes of proliferation. Nat Cell Biol. 18(2):145-56. 

• Kolahgar G et al. (2015) Cell competition modifies adult stem cell and tissue population dynamics in a JAK-STAT dependent manner. Developmental Cell 34(3):297-309. Featured Article 

• Watson JK et al. (2015) Clonal Dynamics Reveal Two Distinct Populations of Basal Cells in Slow Turnover Airway Epithelium. Cell Reports 12:1-12

 • Mascre G et al. (2012) Distinct contribution of stem and progenitor cells to epidermal maintenance. Nature, 489, 257-62

• Driessens G et al. (2012) Defining the mode of tumour growth by clonal analysis. Nature, 488, 527-30

Simons Group 2017

Video: Meet Ben Simons


Lemonia Chatzeli • Jake Cornwall Scoones • Adrien Hallou • Seungmin Han • Daniel Kunz • Hayden Selvadurai