Profiles

Australia's leading experts in bioengineering, nanotechnology, stem cell biology, advanced molecular analysis and clinical research from universities and research institutes around the country are involved in the Stem Cells Australia initiative.

To contact one of our investigators directly, please click on their home institute logo.
  • Professor Melissa Little  Stem Cells Australia Program Leader
    Professor Melissa Little has a long history in the field of kidney developmental biology, having associated mutations in the WT1 gene with Denys Drash syndrome and sporadic Wilms’ tumour, and is a pioneer in the field of renal stem cell biology and renal regeneration. She has published over 165 journal articles including publications in high impact international journals including Nature, Science, Nature Cell Biology, Nature Protocols, Nature Genetics, Cell Stem Cell and Cell Developmental Cell.

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  • Professor Warren Alexander  Partner Investigator
    Professor Alexander is joint head of the Cancer and Haematology Division at the Walter and Eliza Hall Institute of Medical Research. He also heads the institute's Mouse Genomics Centre and Gene Targeting Laboratory. Professor Alexander is a full-time researcher who specialises in molecular haematology with particular interest in genomics approaches to the role of cytokines in health and disease, haematopoietic stem cells and leukaemia. He will contribute expertise in ES cell manipulation, haematopoietic stem cell assays and use and maintenance of murine models.

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  • Professor Perry Bartlett  Chief Investigator
    Professor Perry Bartlett has been at the forefront of the discovery and study of neural stem cells (NSC) in the adult brain. A series of key discoveries from Bartlett’s laboratory (PNAS 1992; Neuron 1993) lead to the co-discovery and successful isolation of NSC from the adult mice forebrain (Nature 2001). The impact of this research was highly significant and the 2001 paper, which has attracted 353 citations, was included in Nature’s list of classic papers in the entire stem cell field. More recently Bartlett has focused on elucidating the cells and regulatory factors that influence the production of new neurons (termed neurogenesis) in the hippocampus, a brain region crucial for learning and memory.

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  • Associate Professor James Bourne  Chief Investigator
    Associate Professor James Bourne heads a group within the Australian Regenerative Medicine Institute that aims to better understand the development of the visual cortex as a precursor to addressing questions of cell replacement and regeneration. More recently, he moved into the area of stem cell biology, examining the potential of the neocortex to self-repair.

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  • Professor Robert Capon  Associate Investigator
    Professor Capon has established a World class laboratory at the Institute for Molecular Bioscience,University of Queensland, equipped with state-of-the-art instrumentation, methodologies and protocols designed to optimize outcomes from biodiscovery research. This laboratory hosts biodiversity as well as natural extract and pure compound diversity libraries comprising several thousand microbial isolates as well as several thousand marine invertebrate and algal extracts, encompassing many tens of thousands of biosynthetically and structurally diverse natural products.

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  • Professor Justin Cooper-White  Chief Investigator
    Professor Justin Cooper-White has expertise in biomaterials and microbioreactor development, which he utilises to understand how hESC and iPSC interact with surfaces and how microenvironmental cues influence the efficiency of maintenance, expansion and differentiation of single stem cells and stem cell colonies. Professor Cooper-White’s expertise in each of these areas will be integral to research performed in the Stem Cells Australia initiative, where he will play a key scientific role in the development of advanced technology platforms for the research programs.

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  • Associate Professor Mirella Dottori  Associate Investigator
    Dr Mirella Dottori is currently Group Leader of the Stem Cell Laboratory within the Centre for Neuroscience at University of Melbourne. Her PhD (Walter and Eliza Hall Institute) and postdoctoral studies (Salk Institute, USA) were on understanding early neural specification and patterning within the nervous system. Dr Dottori returned to Australia as a NHMRC Howard Florey Fellow where she joined Professor Martin Pera’s group at Monash University working on human embryonic stem cells. In 2007, together with Dr Pebay, Dr Dottori established Stem Cell Laboratory at the University of Melbourne.

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  • Professor Andrew Elefanty  Partner Investigator
    Professor Andrew Elefanty will contribute his expertise in the directed differentiation of human pluripotent stem cells to the Stem Cells Australia initiative. His input into the program will be to utilise his established expertise in hESC biology, culture, expansion, differentiation and genetic manipulation, as well as extensive experience in hematology and developmental biology.

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  • Dr David Elliott  Partner Investigator
    Dr David Elliott’s research exploits the potential of hESC derived cardiomyocytes (hESC-CMs) to address major issues in human cardiac biology. He has generated genetically modified hESC lines in which the green fluorescent protein (GFP) expression marks developing cardiomyocytes. Using these lines, he has developed reproducible protocols for the production and isolation of hESC derived cardiomyocytes and cardiac progenitor cells, in chemically defined media.

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  • Dr Judith Field  Associate Investigator
    Dr. Judith Field is Head of the Neuroimmunology and Remyelination group within the Multiple Sclerosis Division at the Florey Institute for Neuroscience and Mental Health. The research performed by this team aims to establish the link between human genetic variants that play a role in susceptibility to Multiple Sclerosis, and their effect on the development of immune responses. This work has resulted in major contributions to the field of Multiple Sclerosis research. Most recently, work performed by Dr. Field and her team resulted in the discovery of MERTKas a novel MS-risk gene as well as functional analysis of the consequences of the MS associated MERTKSNP on immune cells. Ongoing work continues to investigate the role of genetics in development of immune-mediated diseases such as MS (and beyond), and the role in which genomics plays a role in modulating the immune system, with the potential for development of targeted therapeutic strategies.

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  • Professor David Gardner  Chief Investigator
    Professor David Gardner is a world-renowned embryologist with a background of success in improving blastocyst viability through understanding embryo physiology and the interaction of the embryo with the culture environment. He is one of the most highly cited scientists in reproductive biology / reproductive medicine. Over the past 25 years, Gardner has pioneered novel technologies in cell and embryo culture and analysis, specifically developing an understanding of nutrient utilisation by individual embryos, and small numbers of stem cells, and the impact of this on embryo potential.

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  • Professor Robert Graham  Chief Investigator
    Professor Graham received his medical training at the University of New South Wales (UNSW) and subspecialty training (Cardiorenal diseases) at St. Vincent’s and Sydney Hospitals before moving to the US in 1977. There he worked at Southwestern Medical School, Dallas (postdoctoral fellow and then Assistant Professor), the Massachusetts General Hospital and Harvard Medical School (Associate Professor in Medicine and Head, Cardiac Biochemistry Laboratory), the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (Visiting Professor, Laboratory of HG Khorana) and the Cleveland Clinic Foundation (Robert C. Tarazi Professor and Chairman, Department of Molecular Cardiology) and Case Western Reserve University (Professor of Physiology and Biophysics).

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  • Professor Peter Gray  Chief Investigator
    Professor Peter Gray is the Director and a Group Leader in the Australian Institute for Bioengineering and nanotechnology (AIBN) at the University of Queensland. He has extensive experience in bioprocess development for mammalian cell cultures, and is applying this experience to the development of conditions and strategies which will allow the scaleable expansion of pluripotent stem cells under fully defined conditions.

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  • Professor Richard Harvey  Chief Investigator
    Professor Richard Harvey’s research focuses on the genetic basis of heart development and congenital heart disease, on the biology and origin of adult cardiac stem cells, and cardiac regeneration. He received his PhD in 1982 from the University of Adelaide, training in molecular biology. He undertook postdoctoral studies in embryology at Harvard University, then moved to the Walter and Eliza Hall Institute in Melbourne, establishing an independent group. In 1998, he relocated to the Victor Chang Cardiac Research Institute, where he is currently Co-Deputy Director and Head of the Developmental and Stem Cell Biology Division. He holds the endowed Sir Peter Finley Professorship of Heart Research at UNSW and an NHMRC Australia Fellowship. He is a member of EMBO and the Australian Academy of Science.

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  • Professor Doug Hilton  Chief Investigator
    Professor Hilton is an expert in the field of molecular and cellular haematology, focusing on blood cell production and cytokine signal transduction. His significant contributions are attested by publications in the highest impact journals including Cell, Nature, Nature Immunology, EMBO Journal and PNAS, detailing his discovery and characterization of leukaemia inhibitory factor (LIF), cytokine receptors and the Suppressor of Cytokine Signalling (SOCS) proteins. These basic research outcomes have been and are still actively being commercialised through long-term collaboration with the private sector.

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  • Dr Robin Hobbs  Chief Investigator
    Dr Robin Hobbs heads the germline stem cell laboratory at Monash's Australian Regenerative Medicine Institute (AMRI) where he holds a joint appointment with the Department of Anatomy & Developmental Biology. He is a pioneering young researcher who has recently relocated to Australia from Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center which is associated with the Harvard Medical School in Boston.

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  • Professor Trevor Kilpatrick  Chief Investigator
    Professor Trevor Kilpatrick of the University of Melbourne is an internationally recognized neuroscience researcher. Over the last 20 years, he has been seminally involved, together with Professor Perry Bartlett, in a number of significant paradigm shifts in neuroscience research, in particular as it pertains to neural stem cell research. Professors Kilpatrick and Bartlett were the first to conclusively demonstrate that stem cells exist in the embryonic forebrain (Kilpatrick & Bartlett, Neuron 10: 255) and that neurogenesis occurs within the adult mammalian central nervous system (PNAS 89: 8591).

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  • Professor Christophe Marcelle  Chief Investigator
    The Marcelle Group is interested in understanding how functional skeletal muscle arises from a group of unspecialised mesodermal cells. They do this by studying chick and mouse embryos during the first few days of development. This period is crucial to development because the fate of individual cells are decided, extensive cell migration occurs and tightly regulated cell division takes place. The focus of the group is to understand the cellular and molecular mechanisms at play during this complex process. The group has three main aims with their research: observe the cellular events that take place during muscle formation, understand the molecular mechanisms underlying muscle fusion and identify gene networks implicated in the maintenance and differentiation of muscle stem cell

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  • Dr Tobias Merson  Associate Investigator
    Dr Merson completed undergraduate studies in biochemistry and molecular genetics at the University of Queensland and received his PhD from the University of Melbourne for graduate studies on adult neurogenesis conducted at the Walter and Eliza Hall Institute of Medical Research. He undertook post-doctoral training at the Howard Florey Institute in Melbourne as an NHMRC/MS Research Australia Betty Cuthbert Fellow. In 2013, he established an independent laboratory within the Florey Institute of Neuroscience and Mental Health as a Melbourne Neuroscience Institute Fellow. In 2016, Dr Merson was awarded an Australian Research Council Future Fellowship and was appointed Group Leader in Multiple Sclerosis Research at the Australian Regenerative Medicine Institute, Monash University. Tobias is on the Early Career Researcher Committee.

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  • Professor Michael Monteiro  Associate Investigator
    Professor Michael Monteiro (ARC Future Fellow) gained international recognition in the field of nanostructured materials. His research contributions to the synthesis, characterization and molecular engineering of polymer nanoparticles are wide-ranging and of high impact. His publications are evidence of his standing in the international community.

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  • Associate Professor Megan Munsie  Associate Investigator
    A/Prof Megan Munsie brings an unique set of skills to her role as an Associate Researcher and head of the Education, Ethics, Law & Community Awareness of Stem Cell Science Unit. Prior to joining the stem cell field, A/Prof Munsie worked for over ten years as a clinical embryologist in IVF practices around Australia. Subsequently, A/Prof Munsie was the first person to demonstrate - in an animal model - that pluripotent stem cells could be generated from an adult cell using the technique of somatic cell nuclear transfer (SCNT).

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  • Professor Lars Nielsen  Chief Investigator
    Professor Lars Nielsen is Chair of Biological Engineering and Group Leader for Systems & Synthetic Biology in the Australian Institute for Bioengineering & Nanotechnology. He has worked in cell culture engineering since 1988, and specifically haematopoietic stem cell culture engineering since 1995. His expertise is in scaling up haematopoietic processes for clinical application and the development of mathematical models of fate decisions in ex vivo and in vivo haematopoiesis.

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  • Dr Robert Nordon  Associate Investigator
    Dr Robert Nordon graduated from the University of New South Wales in 1986 with an MBBS and received his PhD in the field of Biomedical Engineering in 1994. He undertook postdoctoral research in The Terry Fox Laboratory in Vancouver, Canada, in experimental haematology, before returning to UNSW in 1997 to continue postdoctoral studies in the Graduate School of Biomedical Engineering on an ARC Australian Post-Doctoral Fellowship, and he has been Senior Lecturer in the same department since 2006.

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  • Dr Nathan Palpant  Chief Investigator
    Dr Palpant received his B.S. in Biology from Whitworth University, USA. He then completed his PhD at the University of Michigan working on gene therapy of myofilament proteins for treatment of heart failure. Major findings from his work showed that a single amino acid substitution of alanine to histidine in the switch arm of cardiac troponin I was sufficient to protect hearts against severe acidosis as it occurs in the context of ischemic injury. Dr Palpant then went on to work at the University of Washington where he studied cell lineage decisions from pluripotency. His studies revealed a molecular switch that could convert cells back and forth between the cardiac and endothelial lineages. He has also made strides in understand mechanisms of how cells give rise to the cardiovascular lineage using human pluripotent stem cells, genome engineering, bioengineering, and sequencing of chromatin modifications during differentiation. In 2015, Dr Palpant commenced as a Group Leader at UQ's Institute for Molecular Bioscience (IMB), where he leads a research team studying the mechanisms underlying cell fate decisions in cardiovascular development.

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  • Associate Professor Clare Parish  Associate Investigator
    Associate Professor Clare Parish is a Senior Research Officer at the Florey Neuroscience Institutes and jointly leads the Stem Cell team with Dr. Lachlan Thompson. The focus of the group is on the development of cell therapies for brain repair, notably for Parkinson’s Disease. The team has a strong emphasis also on understanding developmental biology, exploiting this knowledge to generate selective cell populations for the purpose of transplantation and, encouraging graft integration into the host brain.

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  • Associate Professor Alice Pebay  Associate Investigator
    Associate Professor Pébay obtained her PhD in Neurosciences from the University of Paris VI in 2001 and subsequently joined Professor Martin Pera at Monash University to undertake research on human embryonic stem cells (hESC). She then continued her research in this area at the University of Melbourne where she commenced in 2007. Since 2012, Associate Professor Pébay has been appointed to both the Centre for Eye Research Australia and The University of Melbourne.

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  • Associate Professor Jose Polo  Chief Investigator
    Associate Professor Jose Polo encourages us to think of the human genome as a library. As an epigeneticist, expert in the way changes occur in our genes beyond the basic structure of DNA, Jose believes who we are is dependent on how the smallest, most fundamental pieces of our biology are able to open and close the great books of our genetic library.

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  • Dr Joy Rathjen  Associate Investigator
    Dr Joy Rathjen has worked on understanding the maintenance of pluripotency and directing the differentiation of pluripotent cells in culture for nearly 20 years. Dr Rathjen has played a pioneering role in defining and understanding pluripotent cell states in culture, primarily through identification and characterisation in culture of embryonic primitive ectoderm (EPL cells), a population with similarities to embryonic epiblast and hESC.

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  • Professor Pankaj Sah  Associate Investigator
    Professor Pankaj Sah is has been at the forefront of discovery and study of circuits and synapses in the mammalian central nervous system. He was involved in pioneering the technique of whole-cell electrophysiological recordings in acute brain slices. This is now the standard recording technique for electrophysiological recordings in brain slices. These initial studies provided the first description of the biophysical properties of excitatory synapses in the hippocampus, a region important for learning and memory formation (Journal of Physiology, 1989).

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  • Professor Ed Stanley  Partner Investigator
    Ed Stanley heads the Stem Cell Technology Laboratory at the Murdoch Childrens Research Institute. His laboratory is investigating human pluripotent stem cell (PSC) genetic modification technologies and in vitro differentiation towards blood, thymus, lung and pancreatic lineages. The goal of the laboratory is to use stem cell differentiation systems to understand human development, to generate tools for drug discovery, and to provide a source of cells for future medical applications.

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  • Dr Lachlan Thompson  Associate Investigator
    Dr Lachlan Thompson is a Senior Research Fellow at the Florey Neuroscience Institutes and jointly leads the Stem Cell team with Dr. Clare Parish. The focus of the group is on the development of cell therapies for brain repair. The research program includes projects aimed at treating various neurological conditions, including: Parkinson’s disease, Stroke, Motor Neuron Disease, Huntington’s disease and traumatic brain injury.

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  • Professor Brandon Wainwright  Chief Investigator
    Professor Wainwright was appointed Director of The University of Queensland’s Institute for Molecular Bioscience (IMB) in 2006. Previously, he was IMB’s Deputy Director (Research). As Director, Professor Wainwright is responsible for advancing the institute’s research initiatives, strengthening the institute’s global connections and leading IMB’s scientists in their work to improve quality of life.

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  • Professor Christine Wells  Deputy Program Leader and Chief Investigator
    Professor Christine Wells is the Chair of Stem Cell Systems, an ARC Future Fellow and Founding Director of the University of Melbourne Centre for Stem Cell Systems. Christine is a genome biologist interested in tissue injury and repair. She leads a program of research across three pillars of impact and output: (1) collaboration platforms for data integration and visualization for the stem cell community; (2) bioinformatics method development; and (3) gene discovery and characterization of stem cell subsets and innate immune cells.

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  • Professor Ernst Wolvetang  Chief Investigator
    Professor Wolvetang is both one of the leading iPS cell researchers in Australia and one of the few stem cell biologists with the necessary cross-disciplinary expertise that is required for the development of the microfluidic platforms that will be used to generate and direct human iPSC, as proposed in this bid. His leadership in the ASCC funded “Reprogramming and induction of pluripotency” stream has made this stream one of the more successful programs in that endeavour and has, in a short time, given considerable impetus to iPSC research in Australia.

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