Development & Stem Cells
The architecture of our adult tissues and organs is established during development before, and shortly after, birth. It is clear that an individual's development can be critically impacted by genetics, the quality of the gametes involved in conception, as well as the in uteroand postnatal environments. Thus, events before birth and in the early postnatal period can increase the chances of birth defects, childhood disease, and chronic disease in adulthood.
Understanding the basis of organ development is the key to the development of regenerative therapies. Unlocking the potential of stem cells is a high priority for regenerative medicine and for improving treatment options for a number of conditions such as diabetes, cardiovascular disease, neurological disease, autoimmune disease and cancer.
Emerging evidence is also suggesting that compromised development and adult health can be transmitted across generations. This is achieved through a range of mechanisms broadly characterized as epigenetic. As such, the mechanisms that define germ cell development/function and the importance of epigenetics broadly is a focus of this theme.
Who we are
Associate Professor Roger Pocock leads the Development and Stem Cells program which comprises 21 primary group leaders and their research teams. The program is enhanced by the involvement of a further 18 affiliated groups from other BDI Discovery Programs.
Our program has a strong legacy of research excellence. Together with the Australian Regenerative Medicine Institute (ARMI), we form the leading developmental biology and stem cell community in Australia, and one of the strongest globally. Our research interests range from the genetic and molecular regulation of embryo and fetal development, kidney biology, through to stem cell biology and patterning, reproductive biology and the anatomy of the adult body.
The goals of the Development and Stem Cells Discovery Program are to:
- Define the fundamental processes of fertilisation, the impact of environment on these processes and their importance in trans-generational health
- Understand the genetic and environmental regulation of tissue and organ development
- Define the mechanisms underlying healthy embryonic and fetal development
- Understand the adult health consequences of suboptimal fetal development and premature birth
- Understand the roles of stem cells in development and to maximise their potential in the regeneration of organs following disease
- Develop strategies for the detection, prevention and treatment of birth defects and chronic disease
- Develop new approaches to treat infertility and preserve fertility.