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Visit to Japan benefits Stem Cells Australia researchers

07 November 2013
Visiting Australian researchers learn from iCeMS's Itsunari Minami in Kyoto

Being able to turn stem cells into heart cells in the laboratory is an extremely valuable way to understand more about heart disease and potentially develop new drug and cell therapies. While scientists in Stem Cells Australia’s Cardiac Regeneration and Repair program already routinely grow heart cells, the recent opportunity to visit Japan and learn a new technique was welcomed by four of our members.

PhD student Duncan Crombie and postdoctoral researchers Lina Wang, Alexis Bosman and David Anderson, spent five intensive days learning  a more efficient way to generate heart cells in Dr Itsunari Minami's laboratory at the Institute for Integrated Cell-Material Sciences (iCeMS), Kyoto University.

Taking our researchers through his protocol in a step-by-step manner, Dr Minami shared many helpful insights and tips that will greatly benefit their research and may not have been gained otherwise. This visit also gave our scientists an opportunity to discuss their work and explored future collaborations with other researchers at iCeMS and at the Centre for iPS Cell Research and Application (CiRA).

This exchange of ideas and technology was a direct result of the joint iCeMS and Stem Cells Australia summit held in Melbourne earlier this year and sponsored by the Australian Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade through the Australia-Japan Foundation. With such a strong common interest in heart stem cells, the leader of the Japanese delegation, Professor Norio Nakatsuji, kindly extended an invitation for our researchers to visit iCeMS.

Stem Cells Australia was delighted to support this visit and hope this is the first of many opportunities for our researchers to link with their colleagues at iCeMS.

Our researchers visiting Japan included:

Mr Duncan Crombie is a PhD student at the Centre for Eye Research Australia. He will use this training to further his research into understanding how the heart is affected in Friedreich Ataxia.

Dr Lina Wang is part of the Rosenthal Group at the Australian Regenerative Medicine Institute at Monash University. She will use the knowledge she gained during her visit to study heart homeostasis and regeneration.

Dr Alexis Bosman at the Victor Chang Cardiac Research Institute aims to use the new technique to produce heart cells from patient-derived induced pluripotent stem cells.

Dr David Anderson from Murdoch Medical Research Institute will use the training to further his research into the earliest stages of cardiac development in humans.