Using cutting-edge single cell tools to understand the origins of cancer

Using cutting-edge single cell tools to understand the origins of cancer

Project details

Cancer derives from a single cell. However, for many cancers, the precise cell of origin is unknown. We have a suite of cutting-edge single cell technologies that can help answer this question. 

Using cellular barcoding that either delivers or create DNA barcodes inside cells, this project will identify the clonal origins of leukemia from haematopoietic (blood) stem and progenitor cells. In particular, the student will use a novel LoxCode technology that creates DNA barcodes inside cells within a live organism (unpublished, but similar to PolyLox system). 

The student will examine how different cancer mutations affect the expansion of single cells in the prelude to becoming cancerous. They will also use novel approaches using virus-delivered barcoding (see Naik, Nature, 2013) that we have developed to understand what a single cell would normally make, and how that would change with a cancer-causing gene. This will suit technology-minded students who can think deeply about single cell biology, and will involve many techniques including cell culture, in vivo experiments, single cell RNA-sequencing, molecular biology and computational analysis. 


About our research group

The Single Cell Systems Biology laboratory focuses on understanding development at a single cell or ‘clonal’ level. Our biological interests are focused on haematopoiesis (both in the steady-state and after perturbation with inflammation or during leukemia). We have a particular interest in the development of the dendritic cell subtypes of the immune system. 

We both adopt and develop our own technologies including cellular barcoding for clonal lineage tracing, as well as single cell ‘multi-omics’. Depending on interests and skills, students in the lab are encouraged and supported in learning both the laboratory techniques to generate new data, as well as the computational tools to analyse and interpret the results.



Email supervisors



Dr Shalin Naik

Dr Shalin Naik in the laboratory
Laboratory Head

Dr Ashley Ng

Ashley Ng
Clinical Translational Research Fellow

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