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Dr Niwa Ali

People---Niwa-AliKing’s Prize Research Fellow
Centre for Stem Cells & Regenerative Medicine King's College London 
28th Floor, Tower Wing 
Guy's campus
Great Maze Pond 
London SE1 9RT 

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Niwa obtained his PhD from King’s College London (KCL) at the MRC Centre for Transplantation, under the supervision of Professor Frank Nestle and Professor Giovanna Lombardi. He was subsequently awarded a Marie Curie International Outgoing Fellowship to undertake his postdoctoral work at the University of California San Francisco (UCSF) in the Research group of Professor Abul Abbas and Dr Michael Rosenblum. Niwa was recently awarded the King's Prize Fellowship to relocate to London, enabling him to set up his independent laboratory at the Centre for Stem Cells & Regenerative Medicine at King's.


Research interests

Over the last decade, my research has focused on elucidating the mechanisms utilised by tissue resident immune cells in the maintenance of tissue homeostasis. In particular, the role of tissue resident dendritic cells (DCs) and regulatory T cells (Tregs) in the control of skin immunity. During my PhD, I identified a unique population of immunosuppressive DCs in human skin necessary for efficient Treg induction and control of tissue immunity in humanized mouse models (JEM, 2013). In my postdoctoral research at UCSF, I demonstrated for the first time that Tregs in skin possess specialized functions outside of their conventional role in regulating inflammation; through directly modulating epithelial stem cell function to facilitate efficient tissue regeneration (Cell, 2017). I identified the Notch ligand family member, Jagged-1 (Jag1), as a preferentially expressed receptor on skin Tregs that was responsible for influencing tissue stem cell function. 

As an independent investigator, I aim to further explore a) how skin resident Tregs utilize the Notch-Jag1 pathway to control epithelial stem cell lineage commitment, b) the significance of Treg-Jag1 in regulating the tumor microenvironment, and c) whether this pathway is functional on other peripheral tissue resident immune cells to regulate epithelial stem cell function. In doing so, I hope to elucidate the fundamental biology underlying the interplay between immune cells and stem cells in regulating adult tissue homeostasis, and to develop targeted immunotherapies for tissue regenerative disorders and cancer.




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