Group Leader: Associate Professor Ernst Wolvetang
Associate Professor Ernst Wolvetang is a stem cell researcher who leads the Stem Cell Engineering Group at the Australian Institute for Bioengineering and Nanotechnology. Because iPSC-derived cell types in many cases display the typical hallmarks of the disease and recapitulate development in vitro they provide an opportunity to identify novel disease mechanisms through a combination of cell biological, gene expression and epigenome analysis tools, or to perform patient specific drug-screening (using a.o. microfluidic devices). Genome editing, combined with a range of -omics tools, is used to interrogate chromatin, ncRNAs and epigenome modifier function in stem cells or to correct (or introduce) genetic defects in iPSC and enable cell-based regenerative medicine. We also have an interest in cell-free nano-particle based direct differentiation technologies.
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Motivation
Personalised stem cell based regenerative medicine is set to transform the future of health care and is projected to be one of the major growth areas in biotechnology in the next decades. The reprogramming of somatic cells to induced pluripotent stem cells that can generate every cell type of the human body has not only opened the way for the development of patient and disease specific cells that will form the basis for future patient specific stem cell therapies and novel disease models and drug screening platforms but also provides insight into the gene regulatory networks underlying cell fate decisions and disease.
 
PhD research projects
• Genome editing in Down Syndrome iPS cells; understanding the gene regulatory networks of Alzheimer’s disease;
• Prader-willi syndrome, uncovering novel imprinting mechanisms
• Novel human ipsc models of neurological diseases
• Enhancers and neuronal cell fate decisions
• Direct cardiac reprogramming with nanoparticle based strategies
• LncRNAs in neuronal function and disease
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Working with students
Associate Professor Wolvetang’s group consists of five PhD students, two post-doctoral staff and two research assistants. The laboratory benefits from access to a stem cell culture core facility, confocal microscopy tools, genome and sequencing facility , cell sorting protein production and proteomics facilities . The group usually takes on one or two honours students per year as well as one or two AIBN summer students. Associate Professor Wolvetang has currently successfully graduated nine PhD students, many of whom have taken up positions in reputable stem cell laboratories worldwide. In 2013 an Honours student was awarded a full PhD scholarship at Harvard.

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