Stem Cells Australia researchers awarded $2.5M in NHMRC funding

14 August 2018
Congratulations to our NHMRC award winners
Congratulations to our Stem Cell Australia researchers, who recently received significant grants from the Australian National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC).

A/ Professor Alice Pebay (The University of Melbourne & CERA), A/ Professor Clare Parish (The Florey Institute) and Professor Alistair Forrest (The University of Western Australia) were each received a Research Fellowship, which aims to foster an intellectual environment to support and build the capacity of Australian research, to improve Australia’s health and prosperity. 

Dr Kim-Anh Le Cao  (The University of Melbourne) was awarded an RD Wright Biomedical Career Development Fellowship, which recognises and provides support for the most outstanding early to mid-career health and medical researcher.

The NHMRC is Australia’s leading expert body promoting the development and maintenance of public and individual health standards. These Fellowships, totalling $2.5 million, will support research to better understand eye disease, investigate using stem cells to repair certain brain cells, explore the interactions of genes to understand cancer, and analyse and identify key bacteria for therapeutic interventions. More information on each project below. 

Congratulations to our researchers, and all NHMRC grant recipients.

A/ Professor Alice Pebay and Professor Alistair Forrest are Chief Investigators at Stem Cells Australia. A/ Professor Clare Parish is a Partner Investigator and Dr Kim-Anh Le Cao is an Associate Investigator.

A/Professor Alice Pebay – The University of Melbourne and Centre for Eye Research Australia.

Project: Human induced pluripotent stem cells to understand neurodegeneration

By using stem cells taken from patients, I am able to generate unique and important eye tissue models relevant in certain eye diseases (glaucoma, age-related macular degeneration) and brain (Alzheimer’s disease). These models allow me to study these diseases in extreme detail. My program will help to uncover how and why these diseases develop and will be used to search for new treatments to prevent them or to slow their progression.

Professor Alistair Forrest – The University of Western Australia. 

Project: Systems Biology of Human Disease

Over the past 10 years I have used genome wide technologies and large surveys of biological systems to identify and annotate genes within our genomes, predict how they work together to encode the hundreds of cell types that makeup our bodies, and how the activities of these cell types are coordinated within tissues to allow us to have complex multicellular functions. I aim to apply these systems biology approaches to cancer and genetic disease. 

A/Professor Clare Parish – The Florey Institute of Neuroscience and Mental Health 

Project: Advancing stem cell therapy for brain repair

Clinical trials have shown that transplanting new nerve cells into the brain of Parkinson’s disease patients can improve symptoms. Trials use foetal tissue for implantation, which is unsustainable and highly variable. This proposal will examine the potential of human pluripotent stem cells as an alternative to repair a variety of brain injuries. Key objectives will be to control these cells before and after transplantation, ensuring safety and maximal efficiency.

Dr Kim-Anh Lê Cao - The University of Melbourne

Project: Microbiome biomarkers of human disease: novel computational methods to facilitate therapeutic developments

Technological advances have dramatically changed the way we can examine microorganisms including those colonising living beings. However, our understanding of how these vast populations of microbes interact with and influence human diseases is hindered by the sheer volume and complexity of data generated. This program will develop novel methods to efficiently analyse these data and identify key bacteria for potential biomarkers and therapeutic interventions.