Nature Communications publication

Live imaging of alveologenesis in precision-cut lung slices reveals dynamic epithelial cell behaviour

Precision cut lung slice

Researchers in the Dean lab have published exciting exciting novel insights into alveoli development. Alveoli are the site of gas exchange in the lungs. Damage to alveoli, is a component of many chronic and acute lung diseases such as emphysema and Idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis. In addition, insufficient generation of alveoli results in bronchopulmonary dysplasia, which affects many babies born prematurely. Visualising the process of alveolar development (alveologenesis) is important so that we can begin to explore potential ways to repair and regenerate lung tissue. Because the lungs are situated deep inside the body, it is difficult to see alveologenesis happening in the body. In this study, we have established a new method to visualise this process live, in slices of lung tissue. This is the first time that we have been able to see the process of alveologenesis in real-time.  Our study finds that during alveologenesis, a key type of cells, epithelial cells are highly mobile and we have identified how epithelial cells associate with each other to form new alveoli. We also show that by adding drugs to the slices, we can interfere with the process of alveologenesis. Our study has established a new system that enables us to conduct research on how alveoli form and to test potential treatments to repair damaged alveoli.

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Paper link:

Akram, K. M., Yates, L. L., Mongey, R., Rothery, S., Gaboriau, D. C. A., Sanderson, J., Hind, M., Griffiths, M. & Dean, C. H. 2019 (published 12 March). Nature Communications 10, Article number: 1178

NHLI Athena Lecture

9th January 2019

How can we celebrate and support diversity in STEM – a younger perspective’.

 Introduced by Professor Sara Rankin, Head of Equality, Diversity and Inclusion at the NHLI, this year’s lecture broke from tradition by offering a younger perspective on the representation and advancement of women in science. The three guest speakers had been recognised for their commitment to campaigning for diversity in STEM. They each give a 10-15 minute talk followed by a 15 minute Q&A panel facilitated by Dr Mike Cox, a postdoctoral research associate (PDRA) at NHLI and member of the NHLI Athena Self-Assessment Team.

Inspiring and thought-provoking talks from Dr Jess Wade, Dr Faith Uwadiae and Siena Castellon covered many vital themes promoting gender and race equality as well as advocating Neurodiversity.

See here to watch the lectures.

Nature Protocols article

High-fidelity probing of the structure and heterogeneity of extracellular vesicles by resonance-enhanced atomic force microscopy infrared spectroscopy

A new article from previous work by Dr Sally Kim et al as been published in Nature protocols this month detailing development of an atomic force microscope IR spectroscopy approach to probing the structural composition of single extracellular vesicles with nanoscale resolution. 

British Thoracic Society Winter Meeting 2018

British Thoracic Society

The 2018 Winter Meeting was held between 5-7th December at the Queen Elizabeth II Centre, London.

Dr. Charlotte Dean gave her talk entitled “Real-time imaging reveals novel insights into alveologenesis” at the plenary scientific symposium on the 6th December 2018. Charlotte presented recent findings which enlighten our understanding of the process of alveologenesis.

Fun at The NHLI Bring Your Child to Work Day

Thursday 25th October saw the Dean lab getting fully involved with the annual NHLI Bring your child to work day.  


Over 40 children were treated to..

Lung dissections


DNA extraction



 electrodough circuitry creation


This was followed by Halloween fun and food …

Recent workshop on Precision-Cut Lung Slices

A successful and fruitful workshop on the uses of precision-cut lung slices on 5th September was held at Imperial College London.  Organised by Dr Charlotte Dean and Dr Mark Griffiths, the workshop bought together a distinguished line-up of scientists and clinicians to discuss the cutting-edge applications of PCLS.


10.00 Registration and Coffee

10.15 Welcome and introduction – Dr Charlotte Dean/ Dr Mark Griffiths

10.30 Dr Darcy Wagner (Lund University) ‘Using human precision cut lung slices to evaluate existing and novel therapeutics in chronic lung disease’

10.55 Dr James Harker (Imperial College London) ‘Lung resident germinal centres and their role in allergic asthma’

11.20-11.50 Coffee break

11.50 Dr Coralie Martin (Paris Natural History Museum) ‘Lung inflammation in chronic filariasis’

12.15 Dr Franz Puttur (Imperial College London) ‘Lung environmental guidance cues propel in vivo dynamic movement of group 2 innate lymphoid cells after inflammation’

12.45-2.00 Working lunch with 5 min presentations showcasing use of lung slices

2.00 Dr John-Poul Ng-Blichfeldt (MRC, LMB) ‘Using adult lung organoids to investigate regeneration’

2.25 Dr Leo Carlin (Beatson Institute) ‘Using PCLS to probe the regulation of immune cells in cancer’

2.50 Dr Charlotte Dean (Imperial College London) ‘Novel insights into alveologenesis using real-time imaging of PCLS’

3.15 Free Discussion and wrap up with refreshments

4.00 Close

A-level student visit- 10 July 2018

The Dean lab is hosting a visit from 3 A-level students as part of the successful National Heart and Lung Institute Outreach programme. Students spent the afternoon with PhD students, postdocs and lab heads talking about their research. 34 students from different local schools took part in the work experience internships and rotated through four different areas of NHLI to gain insight into a variety of topics.  At the end of the week the students had the opportunity to give an oral/poster presentation to their peers on their favourite topic.

To find out more about this NHLI outreach program contact:

Dr. Mohamed Shamji