National Stem Cell Foundation of Australia

National Stem Cell Foundation of Australia

The National Stem Cell Foundation of Australia supports stem cell science and educates the community about the potential and dangers of stem cell therapies.

Visit the website: stemcellfoundation.net.au

2019 Metcalf Prizes for Stem Cell Research

The winners of the 2019 Metcalf Prizes for Stem Cell Research will be announced on Monday 4 November 2019. Contact Tanya Ha on 0404 083 863 or tanya@scienceinpublic.com.au to receive media information on embargo.

2019 Metcalf Prizes for Stem Cell Research

Permanent hearts and changing breasts spur stem cell research

Winners of the National Stem Cell Foundation of Australia’s Metcalf Prizes announced today

Monday 4 November 2019

Scientists available for interviews

Breast epithelial cells in culture, viewed through a microscope
Credit: Dr Teneale Stewart/Davis Lab, Mater Research Institute, UQ

The stubborn endurance of heart cells and remarkable plasticity of breasts have won two Queensland researchers $50,000 each in the annual Metcalf Prizes, awarded by the National Stem Cell Foundation of Australia.

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Stem cells and calcium affect breast function

Brisbane scientist targets knowledge gap in women’s health

Mammary biologist Dr Felicity Davis is investigating how breasts change through life: how they develop during puberty, alter during pregnancy and change back after breastfeeding is complete.

A scientist at the University of Queensland’s Mater Research Institute, she is examining the role stem cells play in this remarkable tissue plasticity.

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Newborn babies offer clues for healing hearts

For a few short days after birth, the heart can regenerate damaged tissue. Enzo Porrello wants to understand why this ability turns off, so that he and colleagues can switch it back on to heal broken hearts.

Understanding regeneration could lead to new treatments for different types of heart disease, the world’s biggest killer, from birth defects to heart attacks late in life. [continue reading…]

Leukaemia: studying the cancer cells that get away

Heather Lee is analysing individual cancer cells to understand how some survive therapy. Her research ultimately aims to prevent relapse and lift survival rates for leukaemia.

Heather invented a way to study the genetics of individual cells more closely that will help her find out why some cancer cells are treatable, and others go rogue. With her new technique, she can see the chemical ‘flags’ that tell the cell how to interpret its genetic code. At the same time, she can watch how those instructions are—or aren’t—carried out.  [continue reading…]

How we and our stem cells get old

Jessica Mar is analysing stem cells to discover the changes that influence ageing.

We all started life as a stem cell. Throughout our lives, stem cells repair and replace our tissues, but as we age they stop working as well. Understanding how this decline occurs is fundamental to understanding—and influencing—how we age. [continue reading…]

Building a blood cancer treatment from the ground up

Mark Dawson has helped to build a new drug to fight an aggressive form of blood cancer, discovering the basic science of gene expression in acute myeloid leukaemia (AML), developing the drug to block that action, and leading an international clinical trial to test it.

Mark first explored how genes function in leukaemia, then identified molecules that interrupt the key genetic instructions that perpetuate cancer cells. The drug subsequently developed to treat AML is now the subject of more than 50 clinical trials around the world. [continue reading…]

National Stem Cell Foundation of Australia

The National Stem Cell Foundation of Australia supports stem cell science and educates the community about the potential and dangers of stem cell therapies.

The winners of the 2016 Metcalf Prizes for Stem Cell Research are:

  • James Chong: Stem cells healing broken hearts
  • Tracy Heng: Making cancer treatment less aggressive and more effective

Read the media release.

The winners will receive their awards at a breakfast ceremony on Wednesday 27 July in Melbourne. Visit the website: stemcellfoundation.net.au

Making cancer treatment less aggressive and more effective

Tracy Heng wants to make cancer treatment gentler and more effective for elderly patients with blood cancer and other blood disorders.

“Bone marrow transplants have transformed survival rates for blood cancers. They replace a diseased blood system with healthy blood-forming cells, but first, doctors have to wipe out a patient’s immune system, which takes a big toll on elderly patients. My goal is to change that,” says Tracy. [continue reading…]

Tracy Heng: making cancer treatment less aggressive, more effective

Stem cells healing broken hearts

James Chong has two starters in the race to develop stem cell therapies for heart failure as viable alternatives to heart transplants. His research is exploring both the potential for transplanted stem cells to regenerate new heart tissue and how to repair a patient’s heart by rejuvenating their own heart stem cells.

“In Australia, 54,000 people suffer a heart attack and 20,000 die from chronic heart failure each year. I want to develop stem cell treatments that can save the lives of the thousands of people who miss out on heart transplants,” says James. [continue reading…]

James Chong, stem cells healing broken hearts, credit The Westmead Institute, Sydney

2015 Metcalf Prizes go to Brisbane and Perth researchers

Teaching stem cells to forget the past – Ryan Lister, Perth

Stem cell encyclopedia leads to new discoveries – Christine Wells, Brisbane

Winners of the National Stem Cell Foundation’s Metcalf Prizes announced today

Wednesday 13 May 2015

Scientists available for photos and interviews in their labs.

Professor Ryan Lister of the University of Western Australia and Associate Professor Christine Wells of the University of Queensland have both received $50,000 Metcalf Prizes from the National Stem Cell Foundation of Australia in recognition of their leadership in stem cell research. [continue reading…]

Let’s talk about the potential, reality and dangers of stem cells

National Stem Cell Foundation of Australia August newsletter

Welcome to the Foundation’s bulletin on stem cell science and news, and our work in supporting stem cell research in Australia.

Last month we celebrated two emerging stem cell leaders, the inaugural winners of our Metcalf Prizes for Stem Cell Research. The $50,000 awards presented to Kaylene Young and Jose Polo will accelerate their research programs.

This month we’re holding a national tour exploring the potential, reality and dangers of stem cells, with visiting speakers American stem cell pioneers Irv Weissman and Ann Tsukamoto.

Irv is the discoverer of human blood-forming stem cells, while Ann is a leader in the commercial development of stem cell medicine, with a particular interest in neural stem cell research. They will join local experts in each city for a series of public forums that discuss both the potential benefits and risks of stem cell therapies. Read on to find out more about the speaking tour events.

The dangers of and possibilities of treatments have been highlighted in the media in recent weeks. Stem cell tourism and experimental treatments were the topic of two prime time television shows: SBS Insight and ABC Head First. Read on for more about these television shows. Last month also saw the sad news of the passing of an Australian mother-of-two who died while visiting Russia for stem cell treatment. [continue reading…]

The first Metcalf prizes; who’s who of Australian stem cell science; peer-review in action

National Stem Cell Foundation of Australia June newsletter

Welcome to the Foundation’s bulletin on stem cell science, news and our work in supporting stem cell research in Australia.

Australia is home to some remarkable stem cell researchers. Two of them were recognised today by our inaugural Metcalf Prizes.

Kaylene Young believes she can persuade certain lazy stem cells to repair brain injury. Jose Polo is unveiling the details of how stem cells can be produced from adult cells through a process of identity theft and reprogramming.

We’ve been able to award these prizes thanks to the generous support of our donors. We’re calling for more donations now to ensure we can offer future prizes and conduct other initiatives supporting stem cell research and community education.

One such initiative is the Foundation’s new Snapshot of Australian Stem Cell Science: May 2014, illustrating the depth and diversity of local stem cell research. Read on to find out more about the snapshot. [continue reading…]

New national stem cell prizes for Tasmanian and Melbourne researchers

Jose Polo, Donald Metcalf and Kaylene Young. Credit: Mark Coulson/NSCFACould we wake up our brain’s stem cells to repair injury and disease – Kaylene Young, Hobart

How adult cells change identity as they’re turned into stem cells – Jose Polo, Melbourne

Kaylene’s full profile and photos

Jose’s full profile and photos

Scientists available at 10am for photo call and interviews in their labs

Dr Kaylene Young of the Menzies Research Institute Tasmania and Dr Jose Polo of Monash University have both received inaugural $50,000 Metcalf Prizes from the National Stem Cell Foundation of Australia in recognition of their leadership in stem cell research.

Kaylene Young believes she can persuade lazy stem cells in our brain to repair brain injuries and even treat diseases such as multiple sclerosis and Alzheimer’s.

Kaylene and her colleagues have found neural stem cells and related progenitor cells—which feed, protect and assist nerve cells—in the outer part of the brain most prone to damage, known as the cortex.

By understanding the behaviour and function of these cells, they one day hope to use them for treating nervous and brain disorders or damage. [continue reading…]

Closer to repairing the brain with its own stem cells

Kaylene Young. Credit: Mark Coulson/NSCFAHobart researcher Kaylene Young believes she can persuade lazy stem cells in our brain to repair brain injuries and even treat diseases such as multiple sclerosis and Alzheimer’s.

Dr Kaylene Young of the Menzies Research Institute Tasmania has received an inaugural $50,000 Metcalf Prize from the National Stem Cell Foundation of Australia in recognition of her leadership in stem cell research.

She and her colleagues have found neural stem cells and oligodendrocyte progenitor cells (OPCs)—which feed, protect and assist nerve cells—in the outer part of the brain most prone to damage, known as the cortex.

By understanding the behaviour and function of these cells, they one day hope to use them for treating nervous and brain disorders or damage.

“Our ultimate goal is to harness the regenerative capacity of these cells for the treatment of neurodegenerative diseases, mental health disorders, and traumatic brain injury,” says Kaylene.

To assist in her work, the National Stem Cell Foundation of Australia has awarded Dr Kaylene Young—National Health and Medical Research Council RD Wright Biomedical Research Fellow and Research Group Leader at the University of Tasmania—one of two inaugural Donald Metcalf prizes each worth $50,000. [continue reading…]

New stem cells via identity theft and reprogramming

Jose Polo and Donald Metcalf. Credit: Mark Coulson/NSCFAJose Polo is unravelling the details of how stem cells can be produced from adult cells through a mix of identity theft and reprogramming. It is work that needs to be done before such stem cells can be used safely in medicine.

In recognition of his leadership in stem cell research, Associate Professor Polo of Monash University has received an inaugural $50,000 Metcalf Prize from the National Stem Cell Foundation of Australia.

The award is named for Australia’s pioneering stem cell researcher, Professor Donald Metcalf, AC, of the Walter and Eliza Hall Institute, who is an internationally renowned expert on haematopoiesis or blood cell formation.

Jose’s work is unveiling the development of induced pluripotent stem (iPS) cells —stem cells generated from skin, liver, blood or any other body cells. It is an important step along a path which could lead to treating degenerative diseases and understanding some cancers.

“When talking about my work, I often use the analogy of a library, where the genes in the cells are the books,” says Jose. “Every cell is a library which contains the same set of books, but they differ in terms of which ones are open and which are closed—in blood vessel cells the books on blood vessels will be open, and in pancreatic cells the books on the pancreas. I want to find the mechanism that opens and closes those books.”

Jose has already made two major strides forward. [continue reading…]