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Professor David Kent

Deputy Head of Department (Research)

David Kent
Deputy Head of Department (Research)



David earned a BSc in Genetics and English Literature at the University of Western Ontario, Canada and obtained his PhD in Genetics at the University of British Columbia, Canada. His postdoctoral research was at the University of Cambridge where he primarily studied malignant blood stem cell biology and established his research group there in 2015. In 2019, the lab relocated to the University of York and the York Biomedical Research Institute. David has a keen interest in improving the way that we communicate science and educate and train scientists, including launching The Black Hole and writing for the Signals blog on regenerative medicine.  Find him on X, LinkedIn or ORCID.



The lab’s research is highly interdisciplinary with four major themes:

Understanding the molecular regulators of normal blood stem cells

Here we focus on how cell fate decisions are made on a single cell level in an effort to understand how to expand stem cell populations outside the body (for cell replacement or as a cell source for gene therapy). We use tools such as single cell RNA-sequencing, clonal tracking and single cell transplantation assays to link molecular profile with cellular function.

Key publications

Also check out our recent review: Jassinskaja et alBlood 2023.

Novel methods to track and quantify blood stem cells in people

Somatic mutations occur in normal human cells over the course of life, are inherited stably by their descendants, and can be reliably detected by DNA sequencing.  Since the vast majority have no phenotypic effect, they can also serve as excellent clonal markers to determine relatedness of cell types and to estimate population size. In addition to exploring the route that various cancers take to developing over time (see above), we are also interested in using this technique to track and quantify stem cells in a range of other haematological settings, including tracking stem cells in gene therapy trials for sickle cell disease.

Key publications

Also check our review on the technique: Lee-Six et alExp. Hematol 2020

Clonal evolution of cancers from single cells

The early stages of cancer evolution from single cells are observable in haematological malignancies such as myeloproliferative neoplasms and bone marrow failure syndromes. Here we utilise mouse models and primary patient samples to study the molecular and cellular function of mutant versus non-mutant cells to understand clonal competition and to identify potential new therapeutic targets. We also study the role of the immune cell microenvironment in disease evolution.

Key publications

Physical and mechanical biology

The newest area of our lab explores the physical biology of stem cells including the development of new tools/approaches for expanding blood stem cells outside the body. We are exploring the physical and quantitative biology of stem cells through mechanical signalling, mathematical modelling, and the construction of 3D microenvironments and microfluidic devices. In particular, we are interested in understanding the mechanical differences between normal and leukaemic cells and how these might be manipulated for therapeutic benefit.

Research group(s)

Current lab members

  • Postdoctoral fellows: Alyssa Cull, Rasha Rezk, Maria Jassinskaja, Leah Etheridge
  • Graduate students: Fiona Bain, Lily Cabrera-Cosme, Monika Gonka, Razan Alhefzi, Nathan Hall, Rachel Popplewell.
  • Research Technicians: Joanna Milek, Alex Hogg, Ellie Bennett.

Key collaborators

Internal: Ian Hitchcock, Katherine Bridge, Bill Grey, Adele Fielding, Jillian Barlow, Will Brackenbury, Dawn Coverley, Andrew Holding, James Hewitson, Dimitris Lagos, Dave Boucher, Peter O'Toole, Steve Johnson, Thomas Krauss.

External: Peter Campbell, Satoshi Yamazaki, David Williams, Julie Makani, Yosuke Tanaka, Cristina Lo Celso, Claus Nerlov, Andrew McKenzie, Brian Huntly, Tony Green, Elisa Laurenti, Alan Warren, and Bertie Gottgens.

Current opportunities

PhD Studentships for a 2024 start

  1. Patient stem cell expansion
  2. VEXAS syndrome
  3. Biophysical approaches to stem cell expansion
  4. Stem cell dynamics and the microenvironment

Our lab is always interested in recruiting talented and motivated scientists - please do not hesitate to get in touch at

Lab PDRA, Technician and PGR Alumni

Juan Rubio-Lara, James Che, Caroline Oedekoven, Miriam Belmonte, Craig McDonald, Daniel Bode, Mairi Shepherd, Nina Øbro, Megan Davies, Anna Clay, Sandra Pietsch, Grace Vasey.

+GenerationResearch students; our flagship programme for widening access to research (Will Broster, Sophia Saragoudas, Layan Al-Hariri)



teaching icon

My teaching is heavily informed by our research efforts in Genetics, Stem Cells, Regenerative Medicine, Gene Therapy, and Cancer. In addition to this, I have a long history of public engagement and outreach including the creation of The Black Hole, a website and blog that provides information on and analysis of issues related to the education and training of scientists. I was also course director for Hematology 101, a series of web-based lectures on the basics of blood stem cells and their clinical applications.

lectures icon

I lecture on the Haematology & Immunology in Health & Disease (BIO00085H) and the 3rd year Integrated Masters group projects run by Dr. Jillian Barlow. I have given lectures at the University of Cambridge and Imperial College London in the areas of stem cell biology, blood cancers, and regenerative medicine. 

tutorials icon

My tutorials are designed to have a high level of participant interaction and a strong focus on building written and oral communication skills. Small, focused and regular group discussion is an excellent way to encourage new lines of thinking that reach beyond the core curriculum.

projects icon

We are always interested in hearing from bright and motivated young scientists and the interdisciplinary nature of many of our projects means that students from many different areas can find something to pursue in our lab. Overall, we focus on blood stem cell biology but our work encompasses cellular and molecular biology, cancer evolution, mouse models, physical and mechanical biology, computational biology and bioinformatics.

David Kent staff profile

Contact details

Professor David Kent
Department of Biology
University of York
YO10 5DD