Professor Peter AndrewsProfessor Peter Andrews BSc, MBA, DPhil

Arthur Jackson Professor, Department of Biomedical Science
Tel: +44 (0)114 222 4173 | Fax: +44 (0)114 222 2399 | Email:


Using embryonic stem cell biology to study the origins and progression of cancer

After receiving his DPhil from the University of Oxford, and periods as a postdoctoral scientist at the Institute Pasteur and Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center, Peter Andrews joined the Wistar Institute in 1978. There he studied the biology of embryonal carcinoma (EC) cells, the stem cells of teratocarcinomas, a type of testicular cancer. EC cells not only provide a paradigm for the stem cell concept of cancer, but are also the malignant counterparts of embryonic stem (ES) cells, and their study has provided tools for the later study of human ES cell biology.

Peter Andrews moved to Sheffield to the Arthur Jackson Chair of Biomedical Science in 1992, and was the first scientist in the UK to work with human ES cells, following their derivation in 1998. A key discovery was that, on prolonged culture, human ES cells undergo non-random genetic changes that mirror changes also seen in EC cells from testicular cancer. While it is important to understand the causes and consequences of these changes for the use of human ES cells in regenerative medicine, they also provide a model for analyzing the progression of stem cell based cancers, a central current focus of the Andrews’ laboratory. Further work is focused on using induced pluripotent stem (iPS) cell techniques, a development of ES cell biology, to establish models to study pediatric cancers. This work is currently funded by the MRC and YCR; Peter Andrews also co-ordinates the International Stem Cell Initiative funded by the International Stem Cell Forum.

Selected publications:

1. Avery, S, Zafarana, G, Gokhale, PJ, Andrews, PW (2010) The role of SMAD4 in human embryonic stem cell self-renewal and stem cell fate. Stem Cells. 28: 863–873.
2. Barbaric, I, Gokhale, PJ, Jones, MJ, Glen, A, Andrews, PW (2010) Novel regulators of stem cell fates identified by a multivariate phenotype screen of small compounds on human embryonic stem cell colonies. Stem Cell Research, 5: 104–119.
3. The International Stem Cell Initiative (Corresponding Author, PW Andrews +123 others). (2011) Screening ethnically diverse human embryonic stem cells identifies a chromosome 20 minimal amplicon conferring growth advantage. Nat Biotechnol. 29: 1132–1144.