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Xiao Qin

Junior Group Leader

I joined the MRC Translational Immune Discovery Unit (TIDU), MRC WIMM, as a junior group leader in February 2024. My research uses organoid models and multiomic single-cell technologies to understand how cell-intrinsic and cell-extrinsic signals regulate epithelial cell plasticity in the human colon. Ultimately, I aspire to understand how this regulation dictates the progression of precancerous lesions towards tumourigenesis.

During my PhD research as a cancer biologist, I used animal and cell models to study cell-autonomous and non-autonomous mechanisms of colonic inflammation and tumourigenesis. During that time, I developed a deep appreciation for the power of simple model systems, particularly organoids, in addressing complex biological questions. As an ex vivo model system, organoids strike an excellent balance between experimental flexibility and physiological relevance, making them a versatile tool for studying various aspects of epithelial biology, including cell-cell communication and cell plasticity. Since then, I have dedicated my research to developing and applying cutting-edge single-cell technologies to organoids to fully exploit their potential as biomimetic models.

In this new era of advanced single-cell technologies, the organoid model is faced with continuously evolving challenges and opportunities. To harness the potential of these two fascinating fields, I will adopt an engineering approach to generate organoid models for streamlined, functional single-cell analysis. Specifically, I will use CRISPR technology to integrate single-cell lineage tracing with multiomic analysis in organoid models of human colonic polyps. When combined with systematic experimental perturbation of organoids using cell-intrinsic and extrinsic cues, this approach will enable a functional understanding of the gene regulatory networks underpinning cell plasticity, in both health and disease.

Areas of Expertise

- Cancer biology
- Stem cell biology
- Cell signalling

- Heterocellular organoid culture and co-culture
- Mass cytometry and high-dimensional signalling analysis
- Next-generation single-cell sequencing technologies