Stem Cells Australia 2016 Annual Report now available

24 April 2017
Download our 2016 Annual Report

Members of the Stem Cells Australia consortium continue to make a substantial contribution to stem cell science.  Click here to download our latest Annual Report.

During 2016 SCA’s research teams continued to expand their outstanding record of contributions to both basic and applied stem cell biology, including a remarkably diverse publications portfolio which included over 150 publications, a major collaborative initiative formed with Bioplatforms Australia and significant recognitions and honours from prestigious societies, to name a few.

The 2016 Annual Report highlights these achievements including:

  • Creating blood from stem cells - Published in Nature Biotechnology, and led by Dr Elizabeth Ng, Professor Andrew Elefanty and Professor Ed Stanley from MCRI, the researchers were able to more closely mimic how blood cells form during early development - a major achievement.
  • Taking the stem out of stem cells – Led by Associate Professor Jose Polo from Monash and the ARMI, this study published in Nature Genetics effectively developed a computerised recipe book – dubbed ‘Mogrify’ - to predict what factors need to be added to convert one type of cell into another – without having to first make a stem cell.
  • Unlocking treatments for heart disease - Researchers at MCRI have identified changes in a particular gene that results in a disease known as hypertrophic cardiomyopathy. Published in the European Heart Journal this research increases our understanding of how heart muscle functions and identifies potential targets for the development of treatments for heart disease, particularly in children.
  • New ways to harvest blood stem cells – A discovery by CSIRO researcher Professor Susie Nilsson and her team, who are also part of ARMI at Monash, may make harvesting stem cells from donors more efficient and avoid unpleasant side effects associated with current approaches. Findings published in Nature Communications showed that a procedure that once took days could be reduced to around an hour. This approach will now be evaluated in clinical trials to see if the success observed in preclinical animal studies can also benefit patients.
  • Bringing new treatments closer for chemo patients - Professor Lars Nielsen and his team at UQ’s Australian Institute for Bioengineering and Nanotechnology (AIBN) have developed a method of producing a transfusion-ready therapeutic dose of replacement white blood cells from cord blood that can be administered to patients immediately after chemotherapy. A licensing deal with the Centre for Commercialization of Regenerative Medicine will now see this discovery progress towards the clinic.
  • The calibre of our members was recognised by over 25 prestigious fellowships, awards and appointments including Professor Richard Harvey being inducted as a Fellow of the Royal Society of London; achievements of Professor Melissa Little and Dr Minoru Takasato receiving the UNSW Eureka Prize for Scientific Research for their work on recreating human kidney tissue from stem cells; and Professor Christine Wells and Professor Ernst Wolvetang awarded the 2016 Scopus Eureka Prize for Excellence in International Scientific Collaboration for their contribution to the international research consortium FANTOM5.

We would like to take this opportunity to congratulate our postgraduate students who completed their studies in 2016:

Dr Sara Alaei, ARMI/Monash
Dr Adullah Alshawaf, University of Melbourne
Dr Jane Brophy, Monash
Dr James Cornwell
Dr Katherine Gill
, University of Melbourne
Dr Jack Lambshead
, CSIRO/Monash
Dr Barbara Maier
, University of Queensland
Mr Riley McMalon
– Masters, University of Melbourne
Dr Amy Nicks
Dr Jessica Schwaber
, University of Queensland
Dr Kathy Potts
, WEHI/University of Melbourne
Dr Li-Yen Wong
, University of Queensland
Dr Kerstin Zoidl
, University of Queensland

Finally, the 2016 Stem Cells Australia Annual Report marks the completion of Professor Martin Pera’s involvement in the initiative. Under his leadership, SCA has been able to establish an environment that has enabled excellence in stem cell research to thrive. Professor Pera has also championed training and mentoring opportunities for young researchers and has been a powerful advocate for stem cell science in the broader community. We wish him the best as he pursues his new role in the USA and look forward to ongoing engagement particularly through the International Society for Stem Cell Research (ISSCR) where he serves as Clerk.

Please download our 2016 Annual Report for more information.