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June 2022

Two $55K prizes for rising stars. Plus, what do you need to know about stem cell treatment? We have a guide.

Do you know any up-and-coming stem cell researchers who deserve recognition?

Encourage them to apply for the 2022 Metcalf Prizes for Stem Cell Research.

Two prizes, worth $55,000 each, will be awarded to one male and one female mid-career stem cell scientist.

The applications close on Friday 5 August 2022.

Last year’s winners were Siok Tey and Pengyi Yang. Siok is researching treatments which will improve the survival rate and quality of life for her patients with leukaemia or other blood cancers. Pengyi is using computer science to understand how stem cells work.

We encourage people who applied last year to do so again. Read on for more details.

Are you considering a stem cell therapy but don’t know what to expect? Or do you know someone trying to understand their treatment options?

The Foundation has published a new handbook to help people living with illness make informed choices about stem cell therapies. More below.

In other news:

  • animal trials in the USA are showing promise for brain repair in Parkinson’s disease
  • Japanese scientists are studying endangered zebra stem cells, unveiling ancient genetic links between mammals
  • Australian scientists have used stem cell models to reveal previously unknown genetics of glaucoma – a leading cause of blindness.

These and more in our regular round up of stem cell news from around the world.

Kind regards,

Dr Graeme L Blackman AO

Chairman, National Stem Cell Foundation of Australia

In this bulletin:

Do you know a rising star in stem cell research?

Applications for $55,000 prizes for stem cell research now open

Two up-and-coming leaders in stem cell science will receive $55,000 each to boost their career to the next level. If you know a promising stem cell researcher, encourage them to apply.

The 2022 Metcalf Prizes for Stem Cell Research are open to mid-career researchers working in stem cell research in Australia. They could be working in medicine or agriculture, government or academia, as long as they have a primary focus on stem cells.

Applications are open to those who have completed their PhD or MD (research-based) within the past five to 10 years (from August 2012 to August 2017). Allowances will be made for research-career breaks, such as maternity leave.

The winners will be chosen for their scientific excellence, proven leadership ability, and the potential to have a continuing influence on stem cell research in Australia.

Past Metcalf Prize winners include:

  • Brisbane clinical haematologist Siok Tey
  • Canberra computer scientist Pengyi Yang
  • Melbourne molecular biologist Melanie Eckersley-Maslin
  • Brisbane haematologist Steven Lane
  • Brisbane mammary biologist Felicity Davis
  • Brisbane bioengineer James Hudson
  • Newcastle leukaemia researcher Heather Lee
  • Melbourne heart development researcher Enzo Porrello
  • Melbourne haematologist Mark Dawson
  • Brisbane computational biologist Jessica Mar
  • Sydney heart clinician and researcher James Chong
  • Melbourne immunologist Tracy Heng
  • bioinformatician Christine Wells
  • Perth geneticist Ryan Lister
  • Tasmanian neural stem cell researcher Kaylene Young
  • Monash University reprogramming legend Jose Polo.

You can read more about the Metcalf Prize alumni and their research on our website.

The Metcalf Prizes for Stem Cell Research recognise and honour the exceptional contribution made to stem cell research by the late Professor Donald Metcalf. Over his 50-year career, Don helped transform cancer treatment and transplantation medicine, and paved the way for potential stem cell therapy in the treatment of many other conditions.

The Metcalf Prizes support the Foundation’s mission to support researchers whose work improves our understanding of the human body and the diseases that affect it and leads to proven stem cell therapies.

Applications close Friday 5 August 2022. We encourage last year’s unsuccessful applicants to apply again this year if they are still eligible.

To apply online, and for a full list of criteria and conditions, head to the Foundation’s website:

If you have any questions about eligibility or the application process, please contact Tanya Ha at Science in Public, who is administering the awards for the Foundation: [email protected]

What do people need to know about stem cell treatments?

New Foundation handbook guides patients and their families as they weigh up healthcare options

What proven stem cell therapies are available, what’s at risk from trying an unproven, experimental treatment, and what do patients and their families need to know?

The Foundation has developed a new guidebook – What you need to know about stem cell therapies – for people contemplating stem cell-based treatments or clinical trials.

Please spread the word about this resource.

“Stem cells are saving lives today, through bone marrow transplants and other well-established treatments,” says Foundation chairman Dr Graeme Blackman.

“However, the Foundation is concerned by the increasing number of expensive, unproven and unethical stem cell therapies being advertised and offered in Australia and overseas.

“We want to help vulnerable people see through the slick online advertising and seemingly positive testimonials, and to know what questions to ask their healthcare providers.”

This new guide includes:

  • a handy list of questions to ask about any stem cell treatments you’re considering
  • an overview of the conditions that are currently treated using approved stem cell therapies
  • information on how new therapies are developed and tested
  • risks of unproven or experimental treatments.

This resource has been developed with oversight from the Foundation's expert Science and Ethics Committee.

Visit the Foundation website to download the handbook.

Stem cell news from around the world

Between newsletters, we share stem cell news on social media:

Here are a few stories we’ve shared recently:

Medical News: Stem cell models help determine previously unknown genetic markers of glaucoma. Paper.

The Conversation: Stem cell therapy offers a new hope to repair brain damage in newborns.

Medical News Today: Parkinson’s: Promising stem cell treatment reverses symptoms in rodents. Paper.

Texas A&M Today: Scientists uncover key factor in human brain development. Paper.

India Today: Why do we suddenly become frail in the 70s? Scientists unlock cellular secret. Paper.

Weill Cornell Medicine: Immune therapy targets cells that cause leukemia relapse. Paper.

Mirage: Your liver is just under three years old. Paper.

Tulane News: Study examines why kidneys can’t regenerate after birth. Paper.

New Scientist: Buckyball-shaped scaffold makes stem cell tissue grow faster. Paper.

Science Daily: Learning from endangered zebra stem cells. Paper.

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