At the frontier of medicine: Studying heart development one cell at a time

12 November 2019
Meet Australian researchers who use stem cells to advance our understanding of how the body develops and what happens during disease.

Dr Nathan Palpant at the Institute for Molecular Bioscience at the University of Queensland is trying to understand how the heart develops, at an individual cell level, to better explore drugs that might treat the injured heart following a heart attack.

Using human stem cells, the lab studies the series of complex changes that occur as the heart develops, to learn how the different types of cells are made and how they work together to form a functioning heart. This will inform the team about what happens during a heart attack, where billions of heart cells are damaged, as well as explore therapeutics that might protect the heart tissue during injury.

To study such a complex tissue takes an interdisciplinary team and Nathan has been careful to build a team of researchers with different skill sets – from cell biologists to grow the stem cells to bioinformaticians to tease out meaning from the data gathered from these cells. 

Enakshi Sinniah, a PhD student in the Palpant lab, is working at the cutting edge where stem cell and developmental biology meets computational biology. 

Listen to Nathan and Enakshi as they share an insight into the research, the resolution at which they are studying the heart and how key collaborations, building strong networks and interdisciplinary teams are the key to research success. 

Australian stem cell researchers are making important discoveries in the lab, that will move research outcomes towards clinical applications. Watch their videos.