Fiona Watt

International Jury

Fiona Watt


Fiona Watt is a British scientist, internationally known for her work in stem cell research. She has explored the role of stem cells in maintaining the skin, which is constantly repaired and replaced throughout our lifetime. She has discovered factors that control how stem cells differentiate, shedding light on how this process might be disrupted in cancers of the mouth and skin.

Fiona Watt obtained her DPhil from the University of Oxford, and carried out her postdoctoral research at MIT, Cambridge, USA. She established her first lab at the Kennedy Institute of Rheumatology in London, and then moved to the London Research Institute. From 2006 to 2012 she was Deputy Director of the Cancer Research UK Cambridge Institute and Deputy Director of the Wellcome - MRC Cambridge Stem Cell Institute at the University of Cambridge.

Her major research interest is in the role of stem cells in adult tissue maintenance. Her current projects are exploring self-renewal and lineage selection by human and mouse epidermal stem cells, the role of stem cells in epidermal and oral tumour formation, and the nature of mesenchymal cells in the skin.  

Fiona Watt is a co-leader of the Human Induced Pluripotent Stem Cell Initiative (HipSci), which aims to create a national induced pluripotent stem (iPS) cell resource for cellular genetic studies in the United Kingdom. She is also director of the Immunomodulation Hub of the UK Regenerative Medicine Platform. Furthermore, she was the first woman President of the International Society of Stem Cell Research in 2008.

She moved to King’s College London in September 2012 to take up her current position as the Director of the Centre for Stem Cells & Regenerative Medicine. Since April 2018 Fiona has been on secondment as the Executive Chair of the Medical Research Council in the UK.