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Australian stem cell research: at the frontier of tomorrow’s medicine

07 March 2019
Meet Australian researchers who use stem cells to advance our understanding of how the body develops and what happens during disease.

Stem Cells Australia was established in 2011 to discover how to regulate stem cells. The initiative is now poised to harness the immense potential of stem cells for new diagnostic, therapeutic and biotechnological applications. 

Meet eight Australian labs heads who are using stem cells in their research, to understand the cellular and molecular mechanisms underpinning different diseases and conditions, so they can enable the development of new treatment options. Listen to their stories as they share an insight into their research, how they began their careers and what excites them about their work. 

Early career researchers, who are at the start of their research career, talk about the opportunities they have as junior researchers, to create, innovate and problem solve research questions that challenge and inspire them.

Australian stem cell researchers are making important discoveries in the lab, that will move research outcomes towards clinical applications. Watch their videos:

Associate Professor Helen Abud and Dr Thierry Jarde - Monash Biomedicine Discovery Institute. 
The Epithelial Regeneration laboratory centres on understanding how stem cells control cellular growth and differentiation in the epithelial lining of the intestine, and how disruptions in this process cause intestinal disease, including inflammatory bowel disease and bowel cancer.

Professor James Bourne and Dr Jihane Homman-Ludiye – Australian Regenerative Medicine Institute at Monash University.
The Bourne group have garnered an international reputation for being at the forefront of visual neuroscience with a particular emphasis on development, plasticity and repair of the brain following injury. The objective of the Bourne lab is to understand brain cells in detail, in a dish and in the animal model. 

Associate Professor Andrew Laslett and Dr Jacob Goodwin – Australian Regenerative Medicine Institute at Monash University, and CSIRO
The Laslett group investigate the biology of human pluripotent stem cell, including embryonic stem cells. They work on modelling breast cancer in a dish and screening for drugs, building a scaffold for growing liver cells from stem cells and improving tools to identify and select for certain cells from a mixture of cells.  

Dr Toby Merson – Australian Regenerative Medicine Institute at Monash University.
The Merson group studies the cellular and molecular interactions between neurons and myelin-forming cells in the brain. A key discovery is that some stem cells have a greater capacity than others for regenerating myelin that is damaged in Multiple Sclerosis. The team is exploring how to utilise this finding to improve myelin growth. 

Professor Susie Nilsson and Dr Ben Cao – Australian Regenerative Medicine Institute at Monash University and CSIRO.
The Nilsson Group is currently involved in a number of research projects that focus on understanding blood stem cells, to use these findings to improve human health, particularly in the areas of bone marrow transplant, collecting blood stem cell and blood disorders such as leukaemia and bone marrow failure. 

Professor Jose Polo and Dr Anja Knaupp – Australian Regenerative Medicine Institute at Monash University and the Monash Biomedicine Discovery Institute.
The Polo group is interested what makes a cell that cell and how one cell matures into another cell type. It has a particular focus on reprogramming skin cells into induced pluripotent stem cells and other mature cell types. The outcomes of their lab will help us understand disease and screen for drugs, as well as in regenerative medicine and, in the future, creating cells with new functions. 

Professor Colin Pouton and Dr John Haynes  Monash Institute of Pharmaceutical Sciences.
The Stem Cell Biology Group operates under the belief that stem cells are the "next step" for modelling diseases in a dish to understand them, as well as a pharmacological screening platform for drug discovery programs. The lab’s current interests lie modelling Parkinson's and Alzheimer's diseases.

Dr Mirana Ramialison and Dr Ekaterina Salimova – Australian Regenerative Medicine Institute at Monash University.
The Ramialison lab is studying causes of congenital heart disease and understanding the genetic landscape of cardiac cells, to investigate how to help the heart regenerative itself. They are a multidisciplinary team of computational and molecular biologists who specialise in genomics.