Dr Paul De Sousa

Honorary Reader


Following undergraduate and graduate degrees and postdoctoral research  in human and animal developmental biology I joined the Roslin Institute in 1998 as a Group Leader in embryo biotechnology focused on animal cloning by somatic cell nuclear transfer, parthenogenesis and human embryonic stem cell isolation.

In 2005 I joined the University of Edinburgh as a Senior Lecturer in the Centre for Regenerative Medicine focused on development of molecular and cellular understanding and chemical and physical engineering of  technology to isolate, grow, and characterise human pluripotent stem cells.  I also co-founded and served as Chief Scientific Officer for Roslin Cells Ltd, a not-for-profit company for which the University of Edinburgh and Roslin Foundation were joint stakeholders, to manufacture and clinically deliver human stem cell based therapies. This was supported by the Scottish National Blood Transfusion Service and financed initially be Scottish Enterprise. I have also co-founded and served as non-executive director of for-profit stem cell services companies, Roslin Cellab (2006-15) and Censo Biotechnology (2016-2019, now known as Censo Bio: www.censobio.com).

I joined CCBS in 2015 to focus on the development of stem cell-based treatments for peripheral and neurodegenerative diseases, during which time I have co-ordinated multi-disciplinary and private/public collaborations applying artificial intelligence solutions in discovery.


1989-1993       Ph.D. Department of Zoology, University of Western Ontario, London, Ontario., Canada, Control of gap junctional assembly in early mouse embryo.


1986-1989        M.Sc. Department of Zoology, University of Toronto, Toronto, Ont., Canada, Protein synthesis in the immature oocyte and unactivated and activated eggs of Xenopus Laevis.


1982-1986       B.Sc. (Honours, Majors in Human Biology and Zoologys, University of Toronto, Toronto, Ont., Canada

Responsibilities & affiliations

Co-founder and Scientific Director - Stroma Therapeutics Ltd

Chief Scientific Officer – Roslin Cells Ltd

Roslin Cells Ltd derived human embryo stem cell lines for research and in compliance with European Union Tissues and Cells Directives making them suitable to serve as source material for advanced cell therapy product development. These have been deposited in the UK Stem Cell Bank, which have generated up to date quality assured and characterised banks for research and clinical applications (www.nibsc.org/ukstemcellbank). Roslin Cells  was also the lead and managing entity of the European Bank for Induced Stem Cells, a large European public-private partnership project supported jointly by the Innovative Medicines Initiative (IMI) and members of the European Federation of Pharmaceutical Industries and Associations (EFPIA). Its mission is to provide a standardised source of disease representative human induced pluripotent stem cells. I led the workpackage for the establishment of the foundational collection of hiPSC lines. In 2016 Roslin Cells spun out two for-profit-entities, Roslin Cell Therapy (www.roslinct.com) and Censo Bio (www.censobio.com)

Roslin Cells Ltd was a partner in an  several EUFP7 funded programmes, including RepairHD to develop a human pluripotent stem cell based therapy for Huntingtons disease founded on the use of its clinical grade human embryonic stem cells. I led the workpackage for translation of research protocols into Good Manufacturing Practice.

Research summary

Human pluripotent stem cells as isolated from embryos or induced by genetic manipulation of adult cells have remarkable capacity for growth and to be turned into all of the cells that make our bodies unmatched by any other cells. These are important to enable their use to understand development and disease, or be used to screen for new drugs or as a source of cells to replace disease and damaged tissues.

While a Principal Investigator at the University my research was about developing and using the tools to grow, purify and characterise human pluripotent stem cells so they are safe, effective and in the quantities needed for their intended application. 

In the course of my career at the Roslin Institute and subsequently the University of Edinburgh I have developed a patented technology to produce Mesenchymal Stem Cell (MSC)-like cells from pluripotent stem cells. As these can be expanded almost indefinitely, we are able to produce almost unlimited quantities of clinically identical MSC using our process.  Prior to leaving the University  I co-founded an advanced stem cell therapeutics company, Stroma Therapeutics Ltd to exploit this patented technology and secured funding from the UKRI InnovateUK in collaboration with University of Edinburgh colleagues to develop Stromal Therapy for Covid-19 Induced Fibrosis.  This project will investigate the capacity of our MSC technology to tackle fibrosis. The project is advised by clinicians as to how the healthcare burden of post-Covid therapy is developing. This will refine the design and delivery of prospective therapeutic strategies as the burden of the disease becomes more clear. By starting this research now, we aim to have a scalable therapy available as the need arises.


  • Prof David Dockrell, Center for Inflammation Research
  • Dr Thomas M. Wishart, Roslin Institute
  • Dr Colin Campbell, School of Chemistry
  • Dr Sara Macias Ribela, Institute of Immunology and Infection Research


Group Members

Dr James Alibhai, Postdoctoral Researcher (InnovateUK STACIF project, Co-Supervised with Prof. David Dockrell)

Ms Helena Engman, Optima PhD Student (Co-Supervised with Dr Colin Campbell)

Ms Somya Iqbal, EastBio PhD Student (Primary Supervisor Dr Thomas M. Wishart)

Ms Priscilla Chin, Darwin Trust PhD Student (Primary Supervisor Dr Sara Macias Ribela)

Sources of funding

  • InnovateUK
  • Chief Scientist Office (Scotland)
  • Medical Research Council (MRC)
  • Scottish Enterprise (Edinburgh and Lothian)
  • European Union (FP7 program)
  • Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council (BBSRC)
  • Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC)

Related links

Research into stem cell biology & regenerative neurology at the Centre for Clinical Brain Sciences


Current project grants

Stroma Therapy Against Covid-19 Induced Fibrosis (STACIF). UKRI InnovateUK 2021 Project ID 10331464

Past project grants

Please go to ORCID for full list (https://orcid.org/). ORCID No. 0000-0003-0745-2504

View all 66 publications on Research Explorer