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Sujata Biswas

Clinical DPhil Student


The lining of the gastrointestinal tract contains the most rapidly proliferating cells in the body so is an ideal place to study stem cell behaviour. Stem cells reside at the base of intestinal crypts, with daughter cells proliferating and differentiating as they pass along the crypt-villus axis. An interacting network of morphogen signalling pathways controls this complex system. My hypothesis is that disrupted morphogen gradients predispose to epithelial stem cell plasticity – the development of stem cell-like properties away from the crypt base stem cell niche - where proliferation without niche control can lead to mutation and carcinogenesis. A marker of these ectopic stem cells is Sox9, a transcription factor, and I am trying to further elucidate its role in colorectal cancer and colitis. I am using human tissue, in vitro culture systems and in vivo models.

My study will provide insight into the mechanisms that regulate intestinal stem cell homeostasis and the pathogenesis of pre-cancerous lesions, which may contribute to the future development of molecular biomarkers of cancer risk and identification of potential therapeutic targets.

Recent publications

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