Stuart Forbes Research Group

Liver stem cells and regeneration

Our research concentrates on understanding how the liver regenerates in chronic disease and how this process becomes deranged in the development of liver cancer.

Professor Stuart Forbes

Centre Director

Contact details

Aims and areas of interest

By understanding what controls liver regeneration in chronic injury our group aims to be able to promote healthy liver regeneration and reduce the formation of liver cirrhosis and cancer. There are 3 linked programs of research:

  1. Basic biology of the hepatic progenitor cell niche
  2. Cell therapy for liver regeneration
  3. The Liver Cancer niche in cholangiocarcinoma.

More information

Liver disease is the 5th commonest cause of death in the UK and the deaths from cirrhosis are rapidly rising. Currently the only curative option for end-stage liver disease is liver transplantation. Donor organ availability cannot even meet current demand and many patients die whilst waiting for a suitable organ. Alternative therapeutic strategies are urgently required for the treatment of advanced liver disease.

The normal liver regenerates through division of mature hepatocytes. However, in chronic liver injury this capacity is lost. Fortunately we have a second tier of cells that can regenerate the liver- the Hepatic Progenitor Cells (HPCs or oval cells). These bipotential progenitor cells can give rise to both hepatocytes and biliary epithelium but may also be a potential source of liver cancer.


Macrophage Cell Therapy Clinical Trials

Prof Forbes and his team are currently developing a new macrophage cell therapy for liver cirrhosis.

Clinical Trials at CRM

Related activities

Prof Stuart Forbes is also a member of the Centre for Inflammation Research, University of Edinburgh and the NHS Scottish Liver Transplant Unit.

Centre for Inflammation Research

NHS Scottish Liver Transplant Unit

Group Members

Melisande Addison (Visiting Research Fellow)

Rhona Aird (Reseach Assistant)

Candice Ashmore-Harris (Postdoc Research Fellow)

Maria Elena Candela (Postdoctoral Research Fellow)

Horace Ho Laam Chan (MScR Student)

Marisa Ferreira (ECAT-Plus/Wellcome Trust PhD for Clinicians Training Fellow)

Victoria Gadd (Postdoctoral Researcher)

Alison Glover (Research Coordinator)

John Hallett (Clinical Lecturer)

Marieke Hoeve (IRR Head of Postgraduate Programmes)

Alistair Kilpatrick (Postdoctoral Researcher)

Janet Man (Senior research assistant)

Mark MacMillan (PhD Student)

Robin Morton (Science Communication Manager)

Daniel Rodrigo Torres (Postdoctoral Researcher)

Gillian Singh (PhD Student)

David Wilson (Research Fellow)


  • Prof John Iredale, Centre for Inflammation Research, University of Edinburgh
  • Dr Luke Boulter, MRC Human Genetics Unit, Institute of Genetics and Cancer, University of Edinburgh
  • Prof Owen Sansom, The Beatson Insitute, Glasgow
  • Prof Tania Roskams, KU Leuven, Belgium
  • Dr Ken Simpson, School of Clinical Sciences, University of Edinburgh
  • Dr Tim Kendall, Centre for Inflammation Research, University of Edinburgh