Associate Professor Tiziano Barberi

 - Chief Investigator

Associate Professor Tiziano Barberi has been engaged in stem cell research since the beginning of his scientific career. He started as a graduate student at the Istituto Superiore di Sanita (the Italian Institute of Health) studying the molecular and cellular factors governing hematopoiesis. After graduation in 1998, he moved to the New York, USA at Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center (MSKCC), where he started a postdoctoral fellowship working on the directed differentiation of mouse ESC (mESC). In 2003, he published a milestone article in Nature Biotechnology, the first to describe a comprehensive method to differentiate mESC into specific neuronal subtypes in a stepwise fashion.

This highly cited work led the way to the development of differentiation protocols for generating neural cells from human ESCs (hESC). To strengthen his international credentials, in January 2005 he earned a second postgraduate degree, a PhD in cell biology from the University of Tubingen in Germany. Meanwhile, while working at MSKCC as a research associate, he focused on the directed differentiation of hESC.

This work produced two additional milestone papers in which he described, for the first time, how to generate mesenchymal precursors (PLoS Medicine, 2005) and skeletal myoblasts (Nature Medicine, 2007) using a multistep FACS purification protocol. In the summer of 2006, he became an independent investigator, Assistant Professor at the Beckman Research Institute of City of Hope in Duarte, California.

With significant funding from the California Institute of Regenerative Medicine (CIRM) and the NIH, he concentrated his research efforts on the mesodermal and neural differentiation of hESCs. While at City of Hope, he started to teach PhD students a special class in Stem Cell Biology, reviewed publications for several journals, and served as grant reviewer on numerous occasions. Together with his previous co-workers from MSKCC, he published the first report describing the generation of neural crest progenitors from hESC in late 2007 (Nature Biotechnology).

In August 2009, Associate Professor Barberi accepted a group leader position and an Associate Professorship at the Australian Regenerative Medicine Institute (ARMI) at Monash University. His internationally recognized expertise in the directed differentiation of ESC was sought to strengthen Australian stem cell research and will now contribute to the Stem Cells Australia initiative.