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The PLOS Stem Cells Channel – Meet the Editors

Joshua Brickman, Emma Rawlins and Azim Surani announce the launch of the PLOS Stem Cells Channel!

Stem cells are primitive cells commonly found in all multicellular organisms in their most native states. With the ability to self-renew and differentiate into any other cell type, stem cells carry infinite research potential. Not only can stem cells provide us with a deeper understanding of the core mechanics of cell biology, they can also be applied in biomedical studies exploring tissue repair and regeneration. However, although they could be the key to discovering a definitive “cure-all” solution, much is still to be learned in areas such as harvesting, reprogramming and synthesising stem cells; and doing so using controlled and ethical techniques. Therefore, to help facilitate major advances in stem cell research it is important that the most significant information is collected and disseminated to the communities that need it the most. As such, PLOS is delighted today to launch the PLOS Stem Cells Channel with our Channel Editors – distinguished scientific experts in their field – to hand curate the latest and most impactful research in stem cells.

PLOS Channels are resources for research communities: a single “one-stop-shop” destination to discover and explore content from PLOS journals as well as the broader literature, supplemented by preprints, blogs, news, events, commentary and more to keep readers up to date with the latest research in their field. The scope of the PLOS Stem Cells Channel was developed with the Channel Editors ,who will be responsible for curating the content that goes into the Channel. From a range of disciplines focused on pluripotency and reprogramming to organogenesis and ethics, this channel includes, but is not limited, to research on the following topics:

Basic Stem Cell Biology
(comprising fields such as cell & molecular biology, genomics, bioinformatics, biochemistry)

  • Pluripotency
  • Self-renewal
  • Reprogramming (induced pluripotent stem cells – IPSCs)
  • Cell Fate & Differentiation
  • Human fetal tissue

Developmental Biology
(including, model organisms such as D. melanogaster, C. elegans, D. rerio, etc.)

  • Embryogenesis
  • Organogenesis
  • Stem cell Niches & Microenvironment
  • Alternative Model Organisms
  • Tissue-specific Stem Cells

Translational Medicine & Biomedical Engineering
(including preclinical studies in mice/rats, clinical studies in human, and other interdisciplinary topics)

  • Tissue Regeneration
  • Biomaterials
  • Organoids & Disease Modelling

Stem Cells, Homeostasis, Repair & Disease

  • Adult Stem Cells (e.g. haematopoietic stem cells, intestinal (or epithelial), neural, niche)
  • Stem Cells and Tissue homeostasis
  • Stem Cell Therapy and Disease

Ethics and Research Policy
(covering collateral, broad interest topics that are usually well debated in the field)

  • Stem Cell Ethics
  • Reproducibility
  • Technological advancements
  • Controversies (stem cells clinics etc.)

Meet the Editors

Joshua Brickman: My laboratory is focused on the transcriptional basis for lineage specification in both embryonic stem cells and early embryos. We address how transcriptional heterogeneities arise in an otherwise uniform population of “undifferentiated cells”, how heterogeneities are translated into patterns and new cellular identities, and how dynamic transcriptional heterogeneities can explain the functional properties of stem or progenitor cells. As part of our recent work on the origins of heterogeneities I have found our observations drifting deeper and deeper into the mechanistic realm of enhancer regulation, returning to similar terrain that I explored as a PhD student working on mechanisms of transcriptional cooperativity.

Following a brief foray into the music industry as both a DJ and journalist, I did a PhD with Mark Ptashne at Harvard University and then was a post-doctoral fellow with Rosa Beddington at the National Institute for Medical Research in London. I started my own laboratory at the University of Edinburgh, Institute for Stem Cell Research in 2001. In 2011, my group moved to the Novo Nordisk Foundation Center for Stem Cell Biology in Copenhagen (DanStem), where I am currently the deputy director.

 (Website & Twitter @josh_brickman)

Emma Rawlins: I am an MRC Senior Fellow and group leader at the Gurdon Institute, University of Cambridge. My research focuses on stem cell biology in the context of lung development, homeostasis and repair. We use mouse models and human organoids to study cell fate decisions in the lung with the long-term aim of promoting therapeutic lung regeneration. In the adult we focus on the mechanisms controlling the maintenance of relative quiescence in the steady-state, versus rapid proliferation and differentiation following injury. In the embryonic lung we focus on a population of multipotent epithelial progenitors that only exist in development. We have recently developed techniques for growing these cells form human embruonic lungs are using these organoids to focus our work on human developmental mechanisms.  (Website & Twitter @LabRawlins)

Azim Surani: I was born in Kenya and obtained my PhD in 1975 at Cambridge University under Professor Sir Robert Edwards FRS (Nobel Laureate, 2010). In 1984 at the Animal Research Station and Babraham Institute in Cambridge I discovered the phenomenon of mammalian Genomic Imprinting. This pivotal discovery established the field of epigenetics. I showed that imprinted genes retain a memory of their parental origin in the form of DNA methylation epigenetic tags, which are erased and then re-established in the germline.

In 1992 I was elected appointed as the Marshall-Walton Professor at the Wellcome Trust Cancer Research UK Gurdon Institute, University of Cambridge, where I am currently the Director of Germline and Epigenomics Research. My current research is on the development of the human germ cell lineage and the transmission of genetic and epigenetic information, focusing on the genetic basis for mouse primordial germ cell specification, and the initiation of the unique epigenetic program towards generating the totipotent state. I was elected as a Fellow of the Royal Society (1990) and have received multiple awards, including a Royal Medal, the Lewis S. Rosenstiel Award, the ISSCR McEwen Award for Innovation, and the Canada Gairdner International Award (2018).


Channel Administrators

The Channel Editors are grateful to Siham Yennek, PhD & Rita Monteiro, PhD postdoctoral researchers at the Novo Nordisk Foundation Center for Stem Cell Biology (DanStem), University of Copenhagen (Denmark) for their contributions to this Channel.

Siham Yennek, PhD
Rita Monteiro, PhD












The Editors will regularly update the Channel to showcase the most up to date and impactful research and resources of interest to the stem cells community, and look forward to engaging with the community to build a useful resource for all. To nominate content for the Channel email or tweet us @PLOSChannels with the hashtag #PLOSstemcells


Featured Image Credit: Eugene Russo (pbio.0030234)


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