Hannah Leeson specialises in using patient-derived stem cells to generate 2D and 3D neuronal models and employs these models to investigate rare neurological conditions

​In her current postdoctoral position at the AIBN she liaises directly with patients and clinicians, using patient derived iPSCs to generate neuron and brain organoid models that are then used to elucidate the molecular mechanisms driving neuronal disease, and conduct drug screening of known therapeutics to inform and assist clinicians in their treatment options. She is currently exploring AAV9 gene therapy options for patients of Hereditary Spastic Paraplegia 56 (SPG56) and is working on mitochondrial dysfunction and oxidative stress perturbances in stem cell and neuronal cultures derived from SPG56 and Ataxia Telangiectasia patients. She also has a strong focus on malformations of cortical development and drug resistant epilepsies, using multi-electrode array platforms to monitor seizure-like events in brain organoid models, screen potential drug combinations, and reduce the time required to find the appropriate treatment for a patient. Collectively, this work contributes to the development of personalised medicine approaches and facilitates improvements in clinical practice for patients of neurological diseases.

​Dr Leeson is an early career researcher (PhD awarded in 2018) and is focused on the fields of stem cell and neurobiology. She has extensive experience in stem cell culture and iPSC generation, having reprogrammed over 30 iPSC lines for neurological diseases, and is well experienced in neuronal differentiation techniques. During her PhD, she investigated how purinergic signalling may influence adult neural stem cell niches, impacting proliferation, maturation and phagocytic properties of resident progenitor populations. Since commencing her postdoctoral position, she has been involved in numerous projects exploring the molecular mechanisms of neurological disease and aging. Since 2018, Dr Leeson has authored 16 publications and achieved $1.3 million in total funding. Currently, she was awarded $33K as a sole CI to study cortical dysplasia in brain organoid models, is a recipient of >$200K in philanthropic funding from Genetic Cures for Kids, and is CI on an MRFF using brain organoids to develop a patient specific drug treatment platform for drug resistant epilepsy.