Jones Group | Pre-cancer

Jones Group | Pre-cancer

Jones Group


Our Research and Approach

Our group studies how normal cell behaviour is altered by mutation in aging and the earliest stages of cancer development. We focus on normal skin epidermis and the lining of the oesophagus which acquire a high burden of mutations by middle age. Our approach combines deep sequencing of normal human tissues with transgenic mouse models, novel 3D culture methods, gene editing, live imaging, single cell analysis and quantitative modelling. We have disccovered that normal tissues are extensively colonised by mutant cells. Some mutations increase cancer risk while others may decrease it. We are now researching how to redirect evolutionary selection to reduce the burden of the most deleterious mutations.

We focus on three key areas:

  • Mutations in normal tissues
  • How mutant cells take over normal tissues
  • Tracking mutant cell behaviour

To find out more about each project, please click on the 'Read more' button below

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Phil H Jones
Group Leader
Phil studies how cancer associated DNA changes in normal stem cells change their behaviour so they spread through normal tissues, the first step on the road towards cancer.
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Programmes, Associate Research Programmes and Facilities

Partners and Funders

External Partners and Funders


  • Outcompeting p53-Mutant Cells in the Normal Esophagus by Redox Manipulation.

    Fernandez-Antoran D, Piedrafita G, Murai K, Ong SH, Herms A et al.

    Cell stem cell 2019;25;3;329-341.e6

  • Somatic mutant clones colonize the human esophagus with age.

    Martincorena I, Fowler JC, Wabik A, Lawson ARJ, Abascal F et al.

    Science (New York, N.Y.) 2018;362;6417;911-917

  • Epidermal Tissue Adapts to Restrain Progenitors Carrying Clonal p53 Mutations.

    Murai K, Skrupskelyte G, Piedrafita G, Hall M, Kostiou V et al.

    Cell stem cell 2018;23;5;687-699.e8

  • A single dividing cell population with imbalanced fate drives oesophageal tumour growth.

    Frede J, Greulich P, Nagy T, Simons BD and Jones PH

    Nature cell biology 2016;18;9;967-78

  • Human keratinocytes have two interconvertible modes of proliferation.

    Roshan A, Murai K, Fowler J, Simons BD, Nikolaidou-Neokosmidou V and Jones PH

    Nature cell biology 2016;18;2;145-56

  • Tumor evolution. High burden and pervasive positive selection of somatic mutations in normal human skin.

    Martincorena I, Roshan A, Gerstung M, Ellis P, Van Loo P et al.

    Science (New York, N.Y.) 2015;348;6237;880-6

  • Switching roles: the functional plasticity of adult tissue stem cells.

    Wabik A and Jones PH

    The EMBO journal 2015;34;9;1164-79

  • Cell competition: winning out by losing notch.

    Alcolea MP and Jones PH

    Cell cycle (Georgetown, Tex.) 2015;14;1;9-17

  • Differentiation imbalance in single oesophageal progenitor cells causes clonal immortalization and field change.

    Alcolea MP, Greulich P, Wabik A, Frede J, Simons BD and Jones PH

    Nature cell biology 2014;16;6;615-22

  • Tracking cells in their native habitat: lineage tracing in epithelial neoplasia.

    Alcolea MP and Jones PH

    Nature reviews. Cancer 2013;13;3;161-71

  • A single progenitor population switches behavior to maintain and repair esophageal epithelium.

    Doupé DP, Alcolea MP, Roshan A, Zhang G, Klein AM et al.

    Science (New York, N.Y.) 2012;337;6098;1091-3