Cancer stem cells have the ability to sustain tumour growth, generate intra-tumour phenotypic heterogeneity and provide a reservoir of therapy-resistant cells. Prof Pelicci and his group have made a major contribution to understanding the altered self-renewal properties of cancer stem cells (CSCs) compared to normal stem cells. His work has deciphered the molecular mechanisms underpinning symmetric versus asymmetric cell division, and identified the therapeutic implications of their altered self-renewal behaviour. Prof Pelicci’s research extends from the regulation of cell division and proliferation to the control of DNA transcription and replication. In particular his work has uncovered the links between oncogenes and tumour suppressors in cancer, and the relationship between cancer, metabolism and ageing. Notably Prof. Pellicci has generated accurate models of carcinogenesis in mammals by introducing mutations that mimic those that occur spontaneously in human cancers (especially leukaemia and breast). These model systems are used in combination with primary patient-derived samples to identify biological markers of disease and to develop innovative strategies to target CSCs in a clinical setting.