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.

He has successfully applied the outcomes of his research to the development of optimal embryo culture conditions that are used worldwide in embryo research and IVF. His work on optimization of conditions to support the growth of human embryos was directly responsible for the isolation of the first hESC by the Thomson laboratory in the USA in 1998 (Science 282; 1145);

Gardner provided the culture system to Thomson to develop the human embryos from which the inner cell masses were isolated to derive the ES cells (his contribution to this study was acknowledged in the original Science paper, Thomson et al. (1998) Science 282: 1145-7). Recently, Gardner has initiated programs within his laboratory to understand the physiology of hESC, with a focus on the interaction of hESC with the culture environment.

Ultimately, application of this work will underpin the culture of high quality and homogenous hESC populations that can be used as the starting point for consistent differentiation. This work has been undertaken in collaboration with Joy and Peter Rathjen. Gardner’s laboratory in the Department of Zoology at the University of Melbourne is well established and one of the few in the world with the capabilities and expertise in the culture and analysis of gametes, embryos and hESC.

Within the Stem Cells Australia initiative David Gardner will act as CI of a program that continues and extends this work and will develop in depth understanding of the impact of the extracellular and intracellular environment on hESC quality and homogeneity in culture. A consequence of this work will be the identification of a number of culture additives that could be used to stabilise hESC in culture and improve culture conditions. This work will be carried out with associated researcher Dr Joy Rathjen and will collaborate with and complement the scientific program of CI Professor Martin Pera.