Single cell decision making in development and dedifferentiation

Year of award: 2016


  • Dr Jonathan Chubb

    University College London

Project summary

The decisions that single cells make are central to many processes that occur during the development of an embryo. Single cell decisions are also a necessary feature of generating stem cells in the laboratory. Cell decisions are determined by the activity of specific genes in individual cells. However, the normal methods that are used to measure gene behaviour lack the necessary detail to measure gene activity in single cells. These methods have, until recently, only been able to measure the gene behaviour from many thousands of cells, which hides the gene activity that is required for single cell decisions. We have developed methods to directly view gene behaviour in single cells, so now it is possible to understand precisely how these genes contribute to cell decisions.

Stem cells show great potential for regenerative medicine, where they could assist in the repair of bodily structures and functions after injury or illness.