Dr Stuart McDonald

BSc (Hons), PhD
Centre: Tumour Biology
Senior Lecturer
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QMUL Directory

Our research focuses on stem cell niches and clonal expansion in Barrett's oesophagus, stomach and breast cancer.

Research Details

Epithelial tumours, namely carcinomas, are responsible for >90% of all human malignancies, and intuitively we believe that most, if not all carcinomas, have their origins in normal adult stem cells.

Despite a great deal of work in animals, we are still largely ignorant  about the nature and location of the stem cells in most epithelia. Thus, there is a great need for a robust technique to identify clonogenic cells and their  descendants, particularly in human tissues.

Our laboratory has developed methods to identify clonal  proliferative units in human epithelia, and we are now extending these studies to precisely identify the clonogenic cells, their location and nature (multipotential capacity), the cells that are the likely founders of  much premalignant disease.

Our interests focus around;

    • The cellular origins of Barrett’s oesophagus
    • Field cancerisation of the human stomach
    • Clonal expansion in ductal carcinoma in situ of the human breast


After completing my PhD under Prof Tom MacDonald (ICMS), I spent several years researching inflammatory bowel disease and the immunology of infectious diseases of the gut. This eventually led me to work on stem cell biology within the human gastrointestinal tract with Professor Sir Nicholas Wright  and Professor Malcolm Alison. I re-joined Barts and the London in November 2008 and have developed my own research interests around the development of premalignant disease into cancer.


2016 Cancer Research UK Foundation programme award: "Investigating the role of gland phenotype in the evolution of Barrett’s oesophagus to dysplasia"


Barts And The London Charity

“Clonal expansion and progression of Ductal Carcinoma in situ to cancer in the human breast”


Breast Cancer Campaign “Locating the stem cell niche and investigating the clonal architecture”



“Conception and genetic evolution of Barrett's Oesophagus”


Barts And The London Charity

“Clonal evolution of barretts oesophagus determined by genetic abnormalities”



“Conception and genetic evolution of Barrett's Oesophagus”



“Stem Cell Lineages in Human Colonic Crypt”

Key Publications

Nicholson AM, Graham TA, Simpson A, Humphries A, Burch N, Rodriguez-Justo M, Novelli MR, Harrison R, Wright NA, McDonald SAC and Jankowski JA. . Barrett's metaplasia glands are clonal, contain multiple stem cells and share a common squamous progenitor Gut 2011 doi:10.1136/gutjnl-2011-301174 PMID: 22200839

Gutierrez-Gonzalez L, Graham TA, Rodriguez-Justo M, Leedham SJ Novelli M, Gay LJ, Ventayol-Garcia T, Green A, Stoker DL, Bamba S, Yamada E, Kishi Y, Jankowski JA, Wright NA and McDonald SAC. The clonal origins of dysplasia from metaplasia in the human stomach. Gastroenterology 2011 140(4):1251-1260 PMID: 21223968

Gutierrez-Gonzalez L, Deheragoda M, Elia G, Jankowski JAZ, Wright NA and McDonald SAC. Analysis of the clonal architecture of the human small intestinal epithelium establishes a common stem cell for all lineages and reveals a mechanism for the fixation and spread of mutations. J Pathol 2009 217(4):489-496 PMID: 19156773

McDonald SAC, Greaves LC, Gutierrez-Gonzalez L, Lovell M, Deheragoda M, Leedham SJ, Taylor RW, Lee C-Y, Rodriguez-Justo M, Preston SL, Hunt T, Elia G, Oukrif D, Novelli M, Mitchell I, Stoker DL, Turnbull DM, Jankowski JA, and Wright NA. Mechanism of Field Cancerization in the Human Stomach: The Expansion and Spread of Mutated Gastric Stem Cells. Gastroenterology 2008 134:500-510. PMID: 18242216

Further Publications

For additional publications, please click here

Our research focuses on stem cell niches and clonal expansion in Barrett's oesophagus, stomach and breast cancer.

External Activities

  • Director, The Haemochromatosis Society
  • Member, The Amercian Gastroenterology Association
  • Member, The New York Academy of Sciences
  • Member, The Pathological Society of Great Britain and Ireland
  • Gut, Journal scan review team
  • Reviewer for Gut, J Pathol, Am J Gastroenterol, Stem Cells, Histopathology
  • Reviewer for several funding bodies.


  • August 2016: interivew with Core about our research project on the causes of oesophageal cancer
  • June 2016: Cancer Research UK Programme Foundation Award to study evolution and architectural changes in Barrett's oesophagus and cancer risk prediction
  • March 2014: Paper in Gut suggesting that Barrett's more closely resembles stomach lining than the intestine

See other researchers working on:

Barrett’s Oesophagus Breast Colorectal Cancer Stem Cells
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