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Dr Pentao Liu


Functional and Genomic Studies of A New Type of Human Pluripotent Stem Cells    Pentao Liu    Human pluripotent stem cells hold great promise for both basic research and regenerative medicine. The current human embryonic stem cells (ESCs), though extensively used in the stem cell community, are still difficult to manipulate and not considered to be the “truly” or naïve pluripotent stem cells. Intensive efforts have been made to capture and to maintain new human cells that are more similar to naïve mouse embryonic stem cells.     We have produced a new type of human induced pluripotent stem cells (named Sanger Human iPSCs or SH-iPSCs). SH-iPSCs have remarkably efficient differentiation potentials to cell types of all three somatic germ layers and the germline (in vitro PGC-like cells), and of extraembryonic tissues. Unlike other human pluripotent stem cells, SH-iPSCs can be maintained undifferentiated independent of FGF and TGFBeta, and therefore have signal dependency similar to the pluripotent cells in pre-implantation embryos. These biological properties, together with the easy genetic manipulation in these cells, make tSH-iPSCs useful for studying human development and genome biology, and in the future for clinical applications.     This project will be functional and genomic (including epigenomics) studies of SH-iPSCs, and eventually using these stem cells to produce functional, terminally differentiated cells. The knowledge from this study will aim development of similar stem cells from medically and agriculturally important mammalian species including pig and cow. The Sanger Institute and the Wellcome Trust Genome Campus provide a collaborative academic environment for this study.


  1. Wang, W., Yang, J., Liu, H., Lu, D., Chen, X., Zenonos, Z., Campos, L. S., Rad, R., Guo, G., Zhang, Z., Bradley, A., and Liu, P. (2011). Rapid and Efficient Reprogramming of Somatic Cells to iPSCs by Rarg and Lrh-1. Proc Natl Acad Sci USA. 108(45):18283-18288.    
  2. Gao, X., Yang, J., Tsang, J., Ooi, J, and Liu, P. (2013) Reprogramming to Pluripotency Using Designer TALE Transcription Factors Targeting Enhancers. Stem Cell Reports. 1, 183-197.    
  3. Niakan, K. K., Han J., Pedersen, R. A.,Simon, C., and Pera, R.A.R. (2012) Human pre-implantation embryo development. Development. 139, 829-841

Second supervisor:

Dr Paul Bertone,
European Bioinformatics Institute (EBI),
Hinxton, Cambridge