Affiliate Investigators

Stem Cells Australia's Affiliate Investigators are leading Australian stem cell researchers from outside our direct network but whose vision and leadership further strengthen our initiative. 
Professor Jane Visvader
Walter and Eliza Hall Institute for Medical Research

Jane Visvader is Joint Head of the Division of Stem Cells and Cancer and the Breast Cancer Laboratory at The Walter and Eliza Hall Institute of Medical Research. She carried out PhD studies in the Department of Biochemistry at the University of Adelaide, and held subsequent positions as a postdoctoral fellow at the Salk Institute, San Diego, and Research Associate and Instructor at the Children’s Hospital/Harvard Medical School, Boston. In 1998, she was appointed to the Victorian Breast Cancer Research Consortium as a group leader in the area of mammary gland development and cancer. Her laboratory focuses on understanding the epithelial hierarchy in normal and cancerous breast tissue, as well as identifying genes important for regulating mammary development.

  Dr Enzo Porrello
University of Queensland

Dr Porrello is Head of the Cardiac Regeneration Laboratory in the School of Biomedical Sciences at The University of Queensland. Dr Porrello received his Ph.D. from The University of Melbourne in 2009 and subsequently undertook postdoctoral training at UT Southwestern Medical Center (USA) in the laboratory of Dr Eric Olson. Dr Porrello’s research focuses on the molecular and cellular mechanisms that govern cardiac regenerative capacity in neonatal mammals. His laboratory has a major interest in understanding the epigenetic mechanisms that govern cardiomyocyte maturation and proliferative capacity including the role of non-coding RNAs. Research tools in the Porrello lab include in vivo neonatal and adult surgical models of cardiac regeneration and repair, in vitro cardiomyocyte culture systems, and human stem cell-derived cardiac tissues for developmental/disease modeling and drug screening. Dr Porrello currently holds an NHMRC/NHF C.J. Martin postdoctoral fellowship and a UQ postdoctoral fellowship. His laboratory is supported by grants from the NHMRC and UQ.

  Associate Professor James Chong
University of Sydney

Dr James Chong is a Cardiologist at Westmead Hospital and Senior Lecturer at the University of Sydney. His clinical interests focus on coronary intervention whilst his research focuses on the potential use of stem cells to regenerate damaged myocardium. His doctoral training was performed on a previously unidentified population of cardiac stem cells in the adult murine heart. This training at the Victor Chang Cardiac Research Institute focused on using genetic-mouse models to dissect the lineage origins of this stem cell population. Post-doctoral training at the University of Washington (Seattle, USA) investigated the ability of cardiomyocytes derived from embryonic/induced-pluripotent stem cells to repair the infarcted heart.
  Dr Kazu Kikuchi
Victor Chang Cardiac Research Institute

Dr Kazu Kikuchi is head of the Cardiac Regeneration Laboratory in the Developmental and Stem Cell Biology Division at the Victor Chang Cardiac Research Institute. He is an Australian Research Council (ARC) Future Fellow, and Conjoint Senior Lecturer, St Vincent’s Clinical School, University of New South Wales. Dr Kikuchi’s most important contribution to the regeneration field was being the first to apply the Cre/loxP mediated fate-mapping technology to organ regeneration in the adult zebrafish. This work demonstrated that cardiac muscle regeneration in zebrafish occurs through proliferation of existing cardiomyocytes, rather than differentiation from stem/progenitor cells, which offers an avenue to more informatively pursue the cellular and molecular mechanisms regulating cardiac regeneration. This study also has important implications for clinical regenerative medicine, where there is a large unmet need to improve regeneration after injury, as well as to prevent progression to heart failure in those with other common forms of heart disease.

  Dr Jason Kovacic
Mount Sinai Hospital and the Cardiovascular Research Centre, Icahn School of Medicine, New York
Dr Jason Kovacic graduated from The University of Melbourne Medical School in 1994, and then undertook residency and cardiology specialty training at St. Vincent’s Hospital in Sydney. Jason then completed a PhD at the Victor Chang Cardiac Research Institute, focused on the application of cell therapy to treat patients with refractory ischemic heart disease. In 2007 Jason relocated to the USA, where he is now Assistant Professor of Medicine, jointly appointed at Mount Sinai Hospital and the Cardiovascular Research Center of the Icahn School of Medicine in New York. As a practicing cardiologist, he has extensive experience in diagnosing and treating cardiovascular diseases.

He is also head of the Kovacic Lab, which focuses on cardiovascular cell biology. Current research programs within his lab include exploring the role of endothelial to mesenchymal transition in cardiovascular biology and disease, and resident cardiovascular progenitor cells and their function in cardiovascular biology and in various vascular disease states. DOverall, the long-term goal is to make meaningful inroads into the prevention and treatment of cardiovascular disease, with an emphasis on unraveling the core pathways that are involved in the vascular injury and repair-response pathways and leveraging these into developing new clinical therapies.

  Dr Mirana Ramialison
Australian Regenerative Medicine Institute, Monash University

Dr Ramialison is head of the Systems Developmental Biology Laboratory at the Australian Regenerative Medicine Institute (ARMI) at Monash University in Melbourne. She is an NHMRC/NHF Career Development Fellow and leads a multi-disciplinary team of bioinformaticians and molecular biologists, to study heart development, evolution and disease. She takes a systems biology approach to uncover the gene regulatory networks that control gene expression during cardiac development, and identify abnormal interactions that cause congenital diseases. Prior to joining the ARMI in February 2014, Dr Ramialison was an EMBO and HFSP post-doctoral Fellow at the Victor Chang Cardiac Research Institute in Sydney. She received her Engineering degree from the University of Luminy (France) and PhD at the European Molecular Biology Laboratory (Germany). 

  Professor Ryan Lister
University of Western Australia
Ryan Lister leads a research group focusing on epigenomics in humans and plants at the University of Western Australia. After receiving his PhD from UWA, Ryan undertook postdoctoral studies at The Salk Institute for Biological Studies from 2006. There he developed methodologies for utilizing high-throughput DNA sequencing technologies to generate base-resolution maps of DNA methylation and transcriptional activity throughout eukaryotic genomes, yielding new insights into the composition and function of DNA methylation in plants, people and pluripotency. Having returned to UWA in 2012, Ryan’s laboratory is focused upon understanding how these complex epigenomic patterns are established and altered, how they affect the readout of underlying genetic information, their role in neural cell development and function, and developing molecular tools to precisely edit the epigenome.
Dr James Hudson
University of Queensland

Dr Hudson completed a double major in Chemical and Biological Engineering in 2006 at The University of Queensland. He subsequently completed his PhD from The University of Queensland in 2011 in directed differentiation of stem cells into cardiomyocytes and tissue engineering. Dr Hudson then completed postdoctoral training under the guidance of Prof Wolfram-Hubertus Zimmermann, one of the most prominent cardiac tissue engineering researchers. Dr Hudson returned to Australia in 2013 to work in the Cardiac Regeneration Lab in the School of Biomedical Sciences at The University of Queensland under Dr Enzo Porrello. In 2014 Dr Hudson became the co-head of the Cardiac Regeneration Lab with Dr Enzo Porrello and together they are working on finding novel therapeutics to facilitate cardiac regeneration.

Our laboratory is interested in understanding the molecular mechanisms that guide heart development and regeneration. We have recently discovered that the newborn heart has a remarkable capacity to regenerate itself following injury, which is in stark contrast to the adult heart. Our mission is to decipher the fundamental differences between the regenerative newborn heart and the non-regenerative adult heart. Ultimately, we hope to discover novel drug targets for the replenishment of heart muscle cells that are lost following a heart attack in order to allow the heart to heal itself and prevent heart failure. Our laboratory uses a variety of approaches including molecular genetic studies in mice through to functional genomic screens in human bioengineered heart muscle.

Walter and Eliza Hall Institute of Medical Research

Dr Naik is a graduate of the University of QLD (Microbiology & Biochemistry) where he did his Honours with Prof. David Hume on macrophage activation by CpG DNA. After a 2 year hiatus in London where he worked as a waiter, graphics and production manager for Citibank, and TV presenter for a show about extreme weather phenomenon, he returned to Melbourne to do his PhD with Prof. Ken Shortman on dendritic cell development at WEHI. It was here he gained an interest in single cell tracking and fate determination in biology, and was awarded his PhD in 2006. Interested in the emerging technology of ‘cellular barcoding’ Dr Naik did his postdoc in the laboratory of Prof. Ton Schumacher at the Netherlands Cancer Institute, where he traced the single cell output of haematopoietic stem and progenitor cells in vivo. After returning to WEHI in 2013, he was later appointed as a Laboratory Head in the Molecular Medicine Division where he studies single cell fate using different technologies.

   Professor Peter Currie
Australian Regenerative

Professor Peter Currie is the Director of ARMI. Previously, he was laboratory head of the Developmental Biology Program at the Victor Chang Cardiac Research Institute in Sydney and held a senior program leadership position at the MRC Human Genetics Unit in Edinburgh in the United Kingdom. Professor Currie has an active research program focusing on zebra fish muscle disease models. He has published in the leading journals of developmental biology and regenerative medicine and has a strong desire to mentor young scientists.


 Professor Nadia Rosenthal
The Jackson Laboratory, Bar Harbor, ME, USA
Professor Nadia Rosenthal is the Scientific Director of the Jackson Laboratory.

Professor Rosenthal’s research uses mammalian genetics to explore the embryonic development of heart and skeletal muscle and the regeneration of adult tissues. She focuses on muscle and cardiac developmental genetics and the role of growth factors, stem cells and the immune system in tissue regeneration.

She is a global leader in the use of targeted mutagenesis in mice to investigate muscle development, disease and repair, and is a participant in EUCOMM, the European Conditional Mouse Mutagenesis Program, where she coordinates the selection and production of new Cre driver strains for the international mouse genetics community.

Professor David Haylock
Professor David Haylock, Research Team Leader, CMSE at CSIRO, brings considerable expertise in the isolation, characterization and ex vivo manipulation of human haemopoietic stem and progenitor cells to this initiative. Specifically, Professor Haylock has developed serum-free cytokine dependent culture systems for ex vivo expansion of haemopoietic stem cells (HSC) that enable analysis of the effect of purified recombinant cytokines on the proliferation and differentiation of HSC. Furthermore, he has significant skills in flow cytometric methods for multiparameter immunophenotypic analysis and fluorescent activated sorting of rare cell subsets.
   Associate Professor Andrew Laslett
Associate Professor Andrew Laslett and his group are employed by CSIRO and hold adjunct appointments with the Australian Regenerative Medicine Institute, Monash University. He brings a well established expertise in the detailed characterisation of pluripotent stem cells to the Stem Cells Australia initiative. His research group has developed a FACS-based immunotranscriptional profiling system for identifying and isolating hESC that express high levels of the cell surface antigens CD9 and GCTM-2 and they have demonstrated that these cells represent a highly enriched population of hESC.
   Professor Susie Nilsson
Associate Professor Susie Nilsson and her group are employed by CSIRO and hold adjunct appointments with the Australian Regenerative Medicine Institute, Monash University. She brings a unique repertoire of skills and knowledge to the Stem Cells Australia initiative in the area of in vivo murine models of haemopoiesis, haemopoietic stem cell (HSC) biology and the haemopoietic stem cell niche. She has established a series of innovative approaches to investigate functional properties of HSC, particularly those related to their ability to reconstitute the haemopoietic system, post transplantation.