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Department of Physiology, Development and Neuroscience



The Rawlins lab studies the cellular and molecular mechanisms of lung development and homeostasis using human organoid systems and mouse models. Our developmental work focuses on a population of multipotent epithelial progenitor cells which are required to build the lungs. We study how these cells integrate various local and systemic signalling cues to balance cell division and fate specification, whilst also participating in morphgenesis. Key developmental research areas include determining how cell-cell interactions control the development of the lung’s gas exchange surface.

Our adult work focuses on homeostasis, and repair, of the conducting airway epithelium. We study how the basal stem cells respond to local signals which can promote quiescence, or induce division and differentiation. We are particularly focused on understanding the mechanisms which allow this slow turn-over steady-state epithelium to respond rapidly to damage and then return to quiescence.


Dr Kevin Chalut (Stem Cell Institute, University of Cambridge)
Dr Kristian Franze (PDN, University of Cambridge)
Dr Joo-Hyeon Lee (Stem Cell Institute, University of Cambridge)
Dr Kerstin Meyer (Wellcome Trust Sanger Insttute)
Dr Lynn Murray (AstraZeneca)
Prof Paul Riley (Oxford University)
Prof Shankar Srinivas (Oxford University)


Key publications: 

Nikolić MZ, Sun D and Rawlins EL. (2018) Human lung development: recent progress and new challenges. Development 145, dev163485. doi:10.1242/dev.163485 (Review article)

Lee J-H and Rawlins EL (2018) Developmental mechanisms and adult stem cells for therapeutic lung regeneration. Developmental Biology 433, 166-176. (Review article).

Nikolić MZ, Caritg O,Jeng Q, Johnson J, Sun D, Howell, KJ, Brady JL,Laresgoiti U, Allen G, Butler R, Zilbauer M, Giangreco A, Rawlins EL (2017)  Human embryonic lung epithelial tips are multipotent progenitors that can be expanded in vitro as long-term self-renewing organoids. Elife. 2017 Jun 30;6. pii: e26575. doi: 10.7554/eLife.26575. PMCID: PMC5555721

Balasooriya GI, Goschorska M, Piddini E, Rawlins EL (2017) FGFR2 is required for airway basal cell self-renewal and terminal differentiation. Development 144, 1600-1606. PMCID: PMC5450841

Laresgoiti U, Nikolić MZ, Rao C, Brady JL, Richardson RV, Batchen EJ, Chapman KE and Rawlins EL (2016) Lung epithelial tip progenitors integrate Glucocorticoid and STAT3-mediated signals to control progeny fate. Development 143, 3686-3699. PMCID: PMC5087639.

Balasooriya GI, Johnson J, Basson MA, Rawlins EL. (2016) An FGFR1-SPRY2 signalling axis limits basal cell proliferation in the steady-state airway epithelium. Developmental Cell 37, 85-97. PMCID: PMC4825408.

Wagstaff L, Goschorska M, Kozyrska K, Duclos G, Kucinski I, Chessel A, Hampton-O’Neil L, Bradshaw CR, Allen GE, Rawlins EL, Silberzan P, Carazo Salas RE and Piddini E. (2016) Mechanical cell competition kills cells via induction of lethal p53 levels. Nature Communications 7, 11373. PMCID: PMC4848481.

Watson, JK, Rulands S, Wilkinson AC, Wuidart A, Ousset M, Van Keymeulen A, Göttgens B, Blanpain C, Simons BD, Rawlins EL. (2015). Clonal dynamics reveal two distinct populations of basal cells in slow turnover airway epithelium. Cell Reports 12, 90-101. PMCID: PMC4518462.

Rawlins EL, Clark CP, Xue Y, and Hogan BLM. (2009) The Id2+ distal tip lung epithelium contains individual multipotent embryonic progenitor cells Development 136, 3741-3745. PMCID: PMC2766341

Rawlins EL, Okubo T, Xue Y, Brass DM, Auten RL, Hasegawa H, Wang F, and Hogan BLM. (2009) The role of Scgb1a1+ Clara cells in the long-term maintenance and repair of lung airway, but not alveolar, epithelium. Cell Stem Cell 4, 525-534. PMCID: PMC2730729.

MRC Senior Non-Clinical Fellow
Picture of Dr Emma L Rawlins

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+44 (0) 1223 331164
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