Dr John Lizhe Zhuang

University of Cambridge

University departments
Department of Oncology

Position: Senior Research Associate
Personal home page:
Email:   LZ377@cam.ac.uk

PubMed journal articles - click here

Research description

My research focuses on oesophageal adenocarcinoma and its precancerous lesion Barrett’s oesophagus, and it is built around two key interactive directions:
1) establishment of patient and disease-free organ donor derived in vitro organoid and co-culture models, to modulate the initiation and development of Barrett’s oesophagus and its progression towards oesophageal adenocarcinoma, and investigate the heterogenous and dynamic genomic landscapes in the context of microenvironment (niche factors, disease related refluxate and local inflammation), as well as drug treatment (targeted or immune therapies);
2) using state-of-the-art multiplex imaging technology and machine-learning computational approaches to profile a detailed ‘atlas’ of immune and stromal cells directly on patient tissue sections, and characterize their cell density, composition and spatial correlation in the disease progression and/or under treatment.
These studies laid the groundwork for complex in vitro patient cell models and multiplex imaging pipelines, which pave a way for better prediction and prevention, as well as future personalised therapies to treat and/or manage cancer.

Research Programme
Early Cancer Institute
Methods and technologies
Cell culture
Fluorescence microscopy
In vivo modelling
Tumour type interests
Recent publications:
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Key publications
  • Sundaram S, Kim EN, Jones GM, Sivagnanam S, Tripathi M, Miremadi A, Di Pietro M, Coussens LM, Fitzgerald R, Chang YW and Zhuang L. Deciphering the immune complexity in esophageal adenocarcinoma and pre-cancerous lesions with sequential multiplex immunohistochemistry and sparse subspace clustering (SSC) approach. Frontiers in Immunology, 2022. 
  • Nowicki-Osuch K and Zhuang L et al. Molecular phenotyping reveals the identity of Barrett’s esophagus and its malignant transition. Science, 373(6556), 760–767. (2021)
  • Zhuang L and Fitzgerald R. Cancer Development: Origins in the oesophagus. Nature, 550 (7677), 463–464. (2017). 
(A) Microdissected human oesophageal submucosal gland. (B) scRNA-seq of all Barrett's related tissues from patients and disease free donors. (C) Time lapsed live cell division tracking in genetically modified patient organoids. (D) Brightfield and confocal images of Barrett's oesophagus organoids. (E) Multiplex imaging and computationally analysed patient tissue image of oesophageal adenocarcinoma. (F) Various epithelial, immune and stromal cell populations digitally represented back to the original patients tissues.