Awaking quiescent neural stem cells with nutrition
Dr Louise Cheng, from the University of Melbourne (Department of Anatomy and Neurosceince and Sir Peter MacCallum Department of Oncology), was awarded a significant Future Fellowship from the Australian Research Council, for her work in understanding the relationship between nutrition and stem cell behaviour.
The Australian Research Council’s Future Fellowships scheme supports research in areas of critical national importance. Louise was awarded over $700,000 over 4 years to examine how nutrients impact on neural stem cells dormancy versus activation.
The evolutionary size of animals and plants is determined by intrinsic cell regulation and is constrained by nutrient availability. Brain size is perhaps the most profound example of this: regulation of brain size regulation is underpinned by control of neural stem cell divisions.
Using Drosophila melanogaster neural stem cells to model brain growth behaviour, the project aims to increase our understanding of how energy metabolism and nutrition influence organ size control in multicellular organisms, by determining how organs communicate with each other to convert nutrient signals to action stem cell proliferation.
Moreover, using the Drosophila as a model system to study the processes that regulate normal and tumour proliferation in the neural stem cells, Louise’s lab is interested in understanding, at the experimental level, the relationship between nutrition and cancer, and investigate how metabolic rewiring helps fuel proliferative requirements of cancer.
Dr Louise Cheng is an affiliate member of the Centre for Stem Cell Systems.