Melbourne stem cell research advanced by NHMRC grants

Congratulations to members of the Centre for Stem Cell Systems, who were today awarded significant grants from the Australian National Health and Medical Research Council.

Among the grant winners were Early Career Researchers, Dr Matt Rutar and Dr Alex Combes.

The NHMRC is Australia’s leading expert body promoting the development and maintenance of public and individual health standards.

The grants, totalling over $5 million, will support research to better understand eye disease, kidney and heart regeneration, best practices for replacing missing cells in neurodegenerative disease and  investigate cancer resistance.

Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Research), Professor James McClusky, extended his congratulations and appreciation to the staff contributing to the 75 grants awarded to the University of Melbourne.

“The NHMRC invests in the highest quality health and medical research, and the latest round of funding underpins the universities ability to enrich and transform lives through our world-class research,” Professor McClusky said.

Congratulations to all grant awardees. Read more below about the research being conducted by Centre members.

Dr Matt Rutar, The University of Melbourne

Project: Macrophages as novel targets for ameliorating deleterious complement activation in retinal degeneration

Age-related macular degeneration (AMD) is the most common cause of blindness in Australia, although there few effective treatments. Without fresh understanding into its underlying cause, its incidence is expected to double by 2030. This research will lend new insight into how innate immune pathways drive noxious inflammation in AMD, which will help guide the development of novel anti inflammatory therapeutics to help ease its socio-economic burden on Australians.


Dr Alexander Combes, Murdoch Childrens Research Institute

Project: Dissecting the regulation of nephron progenitor identity, self-renewal and commitment at a single cell level

Low nephron number is a major risk factor for chronic kidney disease. This project aims to develop a greater understanding of how nephrons are formed. The findings from this study may enable us to design strategies to increase nephron number in at-risk individuals, and make nephrons in tissue culture for regenerative medicine and drug screening.


A/ Professor Enzo Porrello, Murdoch Childrens Research Institute

Projects: Reprogramming adult cardiomyocytes to a neonatal proliferative state for heart regeneration and understanding the regenerative potential of the human heart in development and disease.


A/ Professor Clare Parish, The Florey Institute of Neuroscience and Mental Health

Project: Utilizing Biomaterials to Improve the Differentiation & Integration of Human Stem Cell-Derived Neural Grafts in Parkinson’s Disease.


A/ Professor Fred Hollande, The University of Melbourne

Project: Characterising mechanisms that underpin drug tolerance and treatment resistance in colorectal cancer metastases.


Professor Melissa Little, Murdoch Childrens Research Institute

Project: Towards renal replacement tissue from pluripotent stem cells.