Rouhani lab Tissue Regeneration and Clonal Evolution Laboratory

Four blobs in a row coloured blue, green, red, and yellow respectively

At TRCE, our mission is to unlock the fundamental mechanisms central to an organ’s ability to regenerate and to develop new therapeutics that can augment biological function. 

We study a range of different tissues and organs but are particularly interested in the liver, as its capacity to regenerate is one of nature’s most remarkable phenomena. We can surgically remove up to 70% of a liver, for the purpose of transplantation or to treat cancer, yet the remnant liver can grow back within a matter of months. We still don’t fully understand how this unique organ senses a wide range of cell injuries and regenerates so quickly and precisely.
Recent advances have shown that liver regeneration results in clonal expansions of liver cells, called hepatocytes. Some of these hepatocytes acquire mutations that improve their abilities to grow and survive. A major part of our research program is to model this clonal evolution, experimentally and computationally, in order to better understand the biological basis of the selection advantages which allow survival of the fittest hepatocytes. We are also developing cutting edge technologies to grow hepatocytes from stem cells and organoids, bioengineer liver tissue and perform gene editing in vivo. Our discoveries will advance fundamental knowledge of liver biology and help us identify potential targets for drug discovery. We will then be able to shape the evolutionary process, bioengineer highly robust hepatocytes and treat liver diseases to address a rapidly increasing clinical need. 

Our vision is to be able to leverage the knowledge we gain from the liver to promote regeneration in other cell types, such as those in the heart or brain, and to make significant impacts in related scientific fields such as ageing or the early stages of cancer development.