December 2014

Sharing stories of Australian stem cell science

Welcome to the National Stem Cell Foundation’s bulletin on stem cell medicine and research in Australia.

Australia is home to some remarkable stem cell researchers and we want to share their stories.
We’re delighted to announce our new publication Stories of Australian Stem Cell Science in which we share a selection of short stories about research happening around the country.
Australian scientists have been in at the fore of stem cell science since the early days, when embryonic stem cell research emerged from fertility research. And they’re still going strong—bioengineering new tissues to repair injuries, understanding and restoring vision loss, building on the success of the bionic ear and understanding the relationships between stem cells and cancer.
This ‘storybook’ ends the year on a celebratory note.
It’s been an eventful year. One of the highlights was our forum series, featuring US stem cell pioneers Irv Weissman and Ann Tsukamoto, which gave us a valuable opportunity for open public discussion about the potential, dangers and reality of stem cell medicine.
This year we’ve also supported around 70 student and early-career researchers to attend local and international research conferences, we published a ‘snapshot’ document capturing the diversity of Australian research initiatives to encourage collaboration and knowledge-sharing, and we awarded the inaugural $50,000 Metcalf Prizes for Stem Cell Research to rising stars Kaylene Young and Jose Polo.
We look forward to kicking off 2015 with the announcement of the 2015 Metcalf Prizes for Stem Cell Research, which will open for applications early in the New Year.
We wish you all the best for the festive season.
Kind regards,
Dr Graeme L Blackman OAM
Chairman, National Stem Cell Foundation of Australia (NSCFA)

In this bulletin:

From making a mini kidney to mending broken hearts: stories of Australian stem cell research

Now online: Foundation’s new publication celebrating local stem cell research stories
Australian researchers are working to understand and develop the potential of stem cell medicine: building the evidence, testing the safety, and translating the findings into practical outcomes. And with stem cells, Australians are finding ways to bioengineer eardrums, treat eye diseases, reverse injuries, and heal the brain.
The National Stem Cell Foundation of Australia is celebrating local research with a new publication Stories of Australian Stem Cell Science—a collection of highlights and interesting case studies selected from the diverse research happening around the country. Written for a general audience, it’s part of our ongoing commitment to community education.
In this collection of stories you’ll hear about local research in action—from fundamental research that will underpin future regenerative medicine, to in vitro studies and animal tests, to clinical trials with human volunteers. You’ll also hear about projects that are refining or improving current treatment regimes, such as bone marrow transplants.
Stories of Australian Stem Cell Science can be downloaded from our website. Please pass it on to your friends and colleagues.
This storybook follows our earlier, more technical publication Snapshot of Stem Cell Research in Australia: May 2014, which documents over 150 stem cell research projects and initiatives around Australia as at May 2014. It’s also available online

Stem cell news from around the world

Between newsletters, we share stem cell news on social media: Here are a few of the stories we’ve shared recently:
  • Knoepfler Lab Blog: New interview with FDA on key stem cell regulatory issues & its own research
  • Forbes: Stem cell advocacy and the patient's perspective (book review)
  • BBC News: Stem cell transplant death—what went wrong
  • Life Scientist: Stem cells offer insights into Huntington's disease
  • Harvard Stem Cell: Pain in a dish: turning skin cells into pain-sensing neurons
  • Daily Courier: Stem cells: between lies and hope
  • ABC Radio National AM: Doctors regrow severed spinal cord with stem cells
  • Herald Sun: Melbourne researchers investigating stem cells from cord blood to prevent cerebral palsy

About the Foundation

The NSCFA is an ATO-registered, tax-deductible health-promotion charity dedicated to promoting the study and responsible use of stem cells to reduce the burden of disease.
The Foundation’s activities include:
  • supporting research that pursues cures for as-yet-untreatable diseases
  • building a community of people with a shared interest in stem cell science
  • providing the Australian public with objective, reliable information on both the potential and risks of stem cell medicine.
We are working to build a community of people with a stake in stem cell science, and to promote collaboration between scientists locally and internationally.

Please feel free to contact the Foundation’s CEO David Zerman on (03) 9524 3166 or email him at

Spread the word

Help us grow
Our aim is to educate the community about stem cell science, whist supporting patients, clinicians and researchers. Feel free to pass this newsletter on to anyone who might be interested.

Got a story?
If you have comments, questions or news you think might be of interest to the stem cell community, we'd love to hear from you. Drop us a line at

Did someone forward this to you? Subscribe to our newsletter here


We aim to:

  • Promote the study and use of stem cells

  • Prevent or control diseases or illness

  • Enhance public education about stem cells