Song Chen to lead research group in Cellular Genetics Programme

This new group will develop powerful, cutting-edge technologies to map individual cells in the brain and other tissues, to understand how they form

The Wellcome Sanger Institute is delighted to welcome Song Chen as its latest Faculty member. His research will focus on mapping cells in the brain and other tissues using single-cell methods, to determine how each type of cell forms, what it does, and how it contributes to the developing tissue. He will also study brain diseases such as cancers using organoid models.

Song joins the Wellcome Sanger Institute from the University of California San Diego, and is aiming to understand the range of different cell types in tissues, especially the brain. Developing powerful single-cell multi-omics technologies to map the cells in healthy and diseased brains, he is exploring the molecular pathways involved in normal brain development and that of tumours. This could then allow the design of targeted molecular and cellular therapies.

“I’m fascinated by how complex tissues such as the brain are created, and understanding how the different cells communicate with each other to control this growth. My research focuses on the development of novel high-throughput single-cell sequencing technologies to help answer this key question in biology. The Welcome Sanger Institute is renowned for its ability to conduct cutting-edge science at huge scale, and I’m extremely pleased to be joining them.”

Dr Song Chen, Group Leader at the Wellcome Sanger Institute

Before joining the Sanger Institute, Song developed novel single-cell sequencing technologies at the University of California San Diego, USA. These allowed, for the first time, the ability to resolve cellular diversity and cell-type specific control pathways in defined regions of the human brain. He also developed a high-throughput sequencing method that could integrate both the transcriptome and epigenetic data from developing and adult mouse brain cells. This paved the way for assembling multi-dimensional cell atlases of various human organs.

At the Sanger Institute, Song is establishing a team of genome biologists, cell biologists and bioinformaticians to develop both dry-lab single-cell multi-omics sequencing methods, and wet-lab CRISPR and organoid models. They will aim to build an atlas of epigenomic, transcriptomic, and proteomics data during various stages of normal organ development and disease progression in brain, kidney and other tissues.

“I am delighted that Song will be leading a new research team in the Sanger’s Cellular Genetics Programme. He is developing cutting-edge single cell multi-omics methods which will be invaluable for uncovering how cells interact with each other to create different tissues. This will also contribute towards the global Human Cell Atlas initiative, which is aiming to map every cell type in the body, to understand health and disease.”

Sarah Teichmann Head of the Cellular Genetics Programme at the Wellcome Sanger Institute and Co-Chair of the Human Cell Atlas Organising Committee

Two Postdoctoral roles are currently available in Song’s team. For more information please visit

More information

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