Owen Laing

Molecular mechanisms underlying replicative stress and genome damage in pluripotent stem cells (i-CASE)

About me

I Graduated with a BSc in Biochemistry and Microbiology from the University of Sheffield in 2015. My history in Human Pluripotent Stem Cell (hPSC) biology dates back to a 2014 internship at the Wellcome Trust Sanger Institute, refining high throughput methods for the culture of human induced pluripotent stem cells.
Following graduation in 2015 I took a break from academia and worked various jobs before I was taken on as a technician at the Centre for Stem Cell Biology at the University of Sheffield.
Here I worked initially on QC banking and characterisation of hPSC lines, following which I moved into a more research-oriented role investigating the consequences of genetic variants in hPSCs. In this position, I became interested in the initial causes of genome damage which ultimately yields these genetic variants, hence my interest in my current PhD project.

My project

hPSCs can proliferate indefinitely in culture and differentiate into any somatic cell, making them Ideal sources for regenerative therapy and disease modelling. Over prolonged culture, hPSCs are prone to acquiring genetic changes, constituting a significant regulatory hurdle to the progression of these cells into the clinic. For genetic variants to rise to prevalence in culture, mutation must first occur, the basis of which is genome damage.
My project aims to elucidate the causative mechanisms of genome damage in hPSCs, with a view to informing modified culture practices, which limit genome damage and therefore the prevalence of genetic variants in culture.


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