Lungs for Living Research Centre


Respiratory Research

We have a comprehensive respiratory research program with a strong theme of understanding the processes causing and controlling lung cancer, and of developing new methods of early detection, staging, and treatment. The main themes are summarised below, along with examples of current projects.


Lung cancer biology

Diagnosis and staging 

  • Mechanisms of carcinogenesis
  • Field cancerisation
  • Understanding progression: why some pre-invasive lung lesions become invasive carcinomas, yet others regress 
  • Interventional bronchoscopy and Endobronchial Ultrasound (EBUS)
  • Leadership of the LungSEARCH trial
  • Leadership of the Lung-BOOST trial
  • Leadership of the STREAMLINE trial alongside our MRI colleagues

Developing new treatments

Airway regeneration

  • Developing novel lung cancer treatments, including cellular therapies
  • Photodynamic therapy and the PEARL trial
  • Stem cell biology
  • Lung cell homeostasis

Airway Regeneration and Carcinogenesis Group 

Prof Sam Janes

Airway section with a preinvasive squamous lesion (green) and adenocarcinoma (red)

Lung cancer biology

We are interested in understanding how the stem cells of the airway maintain our epithelial layer, and importantly what happens when things go wrong. In particular we study the mechanisms controlling cell fate decisions, and define whether it is failure in the control of these cells that causes early lung cancer lesions. This work fits our clinical interest in monitoring a large cohort of patients with pre-invasive lung cancer lesions. 

We also investigate the potential of using bone marrow stem cells to deliver anti-cancer therapies. A successful pre-clinical project was funded by the Wellcome Trust, which led to an ongoing clinical trial funded by the MRC.


Mesothelioma is a cancer of the lung's lining for which current treatment options are limited. We collaborated with Ultan McDermott’s lab in the Wellcome Trust Sanger Institute to determine if mutations commonly seen in mesothelioma affected how the cancer would respond to different drugs. We found that mesothelioma cells with a mutant BAP1 gene are sensitive to the anticancer drug TRAIL. Since BAP1 is the most common mutation in mesothelioma, these findings may lead the way to a new treatment approach. 

Airway regeneration

In order to fully understand the changes that are acquired during the earliest stages of cancer, it is necessary to understand how healthy lung tissue is maintained and repaired in humans. In collaboration with groups at The UCL Institute for Child Health, The Francis Crick Institute and The University of Cambridge, we are working to understand the nature of airway basal epithelial progenitor cells and on methods to expand and manipulate these cells in the lab.

Some of our latest research papers:

Clinical Trials Group 

Dr Neal Navani

Neal Navani is a Clinician and Clinical Trialist at UCLH and is based academically at the Lungs for Living centre. We have run several successful trials through UCLH, and Neal also has an honorary contract with the MRC clinical trials unit. 

Neal aims to make UCLH the key centre for lung cancer trials, including interventional and diagnostic trials, non-chemotherapy treatment trials, and other non-treatment trials.