Professor Little awarded NHMRC Research Fellowship

11 October 2017
Professor Melissa Little

Professor Melissa Little, Program Leader of Stem Cells Australia, Theme Director of Cell Biology and head of the Kidney Research laboratory at the Murdoch Children’s Research Institute, was awarded a prestigious NHMRC Research Fellowship for her work in the molecular basis of kidney development. 

In Australia, chronic kidney disease costs more than $1 billion per annum but treatment options for kidney failure have not changed for the last 50 years. Current practises, including dialysis, reduces quality of life and lifespan in patients, while only 1 in 4 patients will receive a transplant.

The research, funded through the $951,005 Fellowship over four years (2018-2022), will focus on generating kidney tissue from human stem cells to better understand inherited kidney diseases. Professor Little’s vision is to use the comprehensive understanding of kidney development to diagnose and treat disease, and improve quality of life and lifespan in people with chronic kidney disease.

Professor Little is internationally recognised for her work on both the systems biology of kidney development and for her pioneering studies into potential regenerative therapies in the kidney. She was recently awarded the University of Queensland’s 2017 Vice-Chancellor’s Alumni Excellence Awards for her work.

Professor Little’s research on the developing kidney has driven studies into the recreation of nephron stem cell populations via transcriptional reprogramming and directed differentiation of pluripotent stem cells. One research focus is now on the generation of mini-kidneys from patient stem cells for use in drug screening and disease modelling.
The National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC) is a significant funding body and supports research across the full spectrum of health and medical research, from basic science through to clinical, public health and health services research.

Professor Melissa Little
is the Program Leader at Stem Cells Australia.