Embryonic Stem Cell Laboratory

Lab head: Michael Morris
Location: E25 - Royal North Shore Hospital

The availability of in vitro cell differentiation systems that mimic formation of cell lineages during embryogenesis provides enormous experimental advantages. It is possible to identify molecules, signaling pathways and other molecular mechanisms of action, that contribute to "stemness" and that direct the differentiation of stem cells to specific cell fates.

The research in this lab is two-fold:

  1. To understand the molecular mechanisms of normal and abnormal mammalian development using in vitro models of embryogenesis.
  2. To use this information to direct the differentiation of stem cells in culture to specific cell types that can be used in the treatment of human disease.

The key features of our in vitro models of embryogenesis include:

  • The capacity to examine pluripotence, directed differentiation and tissue patterning at the molecular level.
  • The ability to "map" the interrelated processes of cell signalling that control development, and manipulate those processes by chemical means.
  • The development of tissue-culture protocols for the production of pure or highly enriched cell types, which can be tested in animal models of disease.

Current projects:

  • Molecular mechanisms of the maintenance and loss of pluripotence.
  • Cell signalling and the production of neurectoderm from embryonic stem cells.

Our location:

Human Reproduction Unit, DM-IVF-1
Royal North Shore Hospital
St Leonards 2065

Lab members: M Morris (head)

Embryonic stem cells

Primary supervisor: Michael Morris

In this lab, we are investigating the mechanisms by which ES cells can be directed to differentiate to specific cell types, such as neural cells. This will help us to understand the intricate mechanisms by which this is achieved in the embryo as it grows as well as providing the means to produce these cell types for use in animal models of human disease and injury.

In particular, we are (i) mapping the signalling mechanisms which maintain ES cells in a pluripotent, self-renewing, rapidly proliferating state and (ii) identifying and manipulating critical molecular switches so that ES cells lose pluripotence and differentiate to specific cell types, with particular emphasis on neurogenesis.

Projects are available which draw on a variety of techniques in cell and molecular biology, protein chemistry, and bioinformatics.


Discipline: Physiology
Co-supervisors: Margot Day, Stuart Fraser
Keywords: Stem cell biology, Cell & Molecular Biology, developmental biology
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