Professor Lars Nielsen

 - Chief Investigator

Research focus: Systems and synthetic biology to develop sustainable bioprocesses - including tuissue engineering to generate microtissues for drug screening and blood cells for transfusion

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.

Professor Nielsen will contribute to two areas of the Stem Cells Australia initiative. Firstly, he will contribute his expertise in haematopoietic stem cell culture processes to the development of haematopoetic stem and progenitor cells from pluripotent stem cells. This work will draw on his patented processes for large scale production of neutrophils and red blood cells developed over the past eight years through projects funded by the Australian Red Cross Blood Services and the Australian Stem Cell Centre. Secondly, Prof Nielsen will contribute to the development of detailed network models for haematopoiesis. This will contribute to the Stem Cell Portal effort of Stem Cells Australia. 

In the late 1990s, he developed the first mathematically consistent model of haematopoietic fate processes, introducing the concept of continuum differentiation. In this work, he will combine these phenomenological fate decision models (population balance models), with the detailed molecular signalling and regulatory models that his team has developed more recently. Specifically, he will explore the potential of using the Constraint-Based Reconstruction & Analysis (COBRA) approach for fate decision modelling. He will also contribute experimental models for testing model generated hypotheses.