NHMRC Investigator grants for Stem Cells Australia researchers

24 September 2019
The NHMRC Investigator Grant Scheme will provide $10.3 million in funding to researchers at Stem Cells Australia over the next five years, in recognition of their outstanding track records in research.

The highly competitive Investigator Grants acknowledge what the applicants have achieved, their publication record and the impact their research has already had. 

The grants, totalling over $10 million, will support research into improving outcomes for people with Multiple Sclerosis and endometriosis, understanding disease at a cellular level and exploring the mechanisms of regeneration and cell identity.  

Congratulations to all grant awardees. Read more below about the research being conducted by Stem Cells Australia members.

Professor Caroline Gargett - Hudson Institute of Medical Research at Monday University

Project: Translating Endometrial Stem/Progenitor Cell Discoveries  to Transform Women's and Girls' Gynaecological Health Outcomes

The endometrial lining of the womb has amazing growth capacity and sheds each month in a woman’s period. Prof Gargett's discovery of 2 types of adult stem cells in the womb lining has changed our understanding of how the womb lining grows to support pregnancy and how abnormalities in this process lead to women's disease. This project will reveal the role of endometrial stem cells in endometriosis and examines how endometrial mesenchymal stem cells can be used as a therapy for pelvic organ prolapse.

Professor Trevor Kilpatrick - University of Melbourne and the Florey Institute

Project: Improving outcomes for people with multiple sclerosis

Trevor will investigate the cause and drivers of multiple sclerosis a disease of the brain and spinal cord that causes neurological disability by inducing demyelination, that is loss of the insulating coat ensheathing nerves. Specifically, the lab will investigate how two molecules known as Tyro3 and Mertk improve repair. The lab will also explore whether transplanted immune cells expressing Mertk promote remyelination and develop molecules that stimulate Mertk with sufficient longevity to be of clinical use.

Professor Ryan Lister - University of Western Australia

Project: Natural and artificial regulation of the epigenome in pluripotency, cell identity, and development

The genome of a cell is covered in chemical tags that can turn genes on or off. The patterns of these epigenetic tags are different in each type of cell, and can be disrupted in adult stem cells, specialized cells made from them, and disease states. This research will pioneer new experimental procedures and molecular tools to edit and correct aberrant epigenetic patterns in disease, and in stem cells and derived cells, providing import outcomes for biomedical research and regenerative medicine.

Dr Mikael Martino - Australian Regenerative Medicine Institute at Monash University 

Project: Development of immune-centric regenerative strategies

Regenerative medicine is still not a widespread reality. For example, many trials failed to show efficacy of therapies based on stem cells. Indeed, to improve regenerative strategies, it is necessary to better understand how we can instruct our body to regenerate. One of the main goals in this research is to reveal how the immune system controls the repair and regeneration of different tissues and organs. Ultimately, we seek to design new regenerative strategies based on our findings.

Associate Professor Joseph Powell - the Garvan Institute of Medical Research

Project: The genetic control of complex diseases at a cellular level

The genetic risk for most disease is through gene expression - the mechanism by which information from DNA is translated into proteins. Gene expression is controlled at an individual cell level, so ideally, analysis of gene expression should be performed using single cells. Joseph's research uses single cell sequencing technology to address why diseases arise in different cell types, and how early stage diseases can be diagnosed and treated by targeting the specific disease-driving cell populations.