Alice Pebay


Associate Professor Pébay obtained her PhD in Neurosciences from the University of Paris VI in 2001 and subsequently joined Professor Martin Pera at Monash University to undertake research on human pluripotent stem cells. She then continued her research in this area at the University of Melbourne where she commenced in 2007. Since 2012, Alice has been appointed to both the Centre for Eye Research Australia and The University of Melbourne. She is the head of the Neuroregeneration Research Unit, which aims to use patient specific stem cells to model blinding diseases. Alice has a proven track record in generating iPSCs and differentiating them into various cell types for disease modelling including those affecting the central nervous system and the eye. Alice and her collaborators have pioneered the use of automation for human pluripotent stem cell research in Australia, enabling the streamlining generation and maintenance of iPSC-derived cells from hundreds of patients. Alice was awarded a NHMRC Career Development Fellowship in 2012 and subsequently an Australian Research Council Future Fellowship in 2014. Alice is the primary inventor of three granted international patents related to stem cell technology and neurotrauma.

Abtract: Modelling retinal diseases with patient induced pluripotent stem cells.

Age-related macular degeneration (AMD), primary open-angle glaucoma (POAG) are leading ageing neurodegenerative diseases of the eye. Although phenotypically distinct, their respective pathophysiologies do share similarities. They are chronic, progressive, and lead to the degeneration of neurons key to the function of the retina or optic nerve. If no treatment is found, the direct and indirect costs associated with these conditions will drastically increase. Despite enormous research efforts, treatment options are still limited, with no current definitive treatment for AMD and POAG. This paucity of treatment options can be attributed to a fundamental absence in the knowledge around what causes these conditions and they progress.

We use of patient-specific induced pluripotent stem cells (iPSCs) to obtain the key cells involved in these diseases. To increase power of analysis, we use automation of cell culture to allow large-scale modelling of AMD and POAG. Those methods will be discussed. Ultimately, we aim to improve our molecular understanding of those neurodegenerative diseases, and ultimately facilitate preclinical trials, and translatable outcomes.