Engineering innovative clinical solutions to improve productivity and quality of life as we age.

The UQ Centre in Stem Cell Ageing and Regenerative Engineering (UQ-StemCARE) aims to understand how the decline in stem cell function affects the ageing process. UQ-StemCARE's goal is to engineer clinically translatable solutions for increasing health span and healthy ageing.

In a world in which people are living longer and longer, the goals of UQ-StemCARE are:

  • to investigate the ageing process at a molecular, cellular and organismal level,
  • to further our understanding of the basic processes of ageing and
  • to engineer innovative clinical solutions for maintaining health during ageing thereby supporting ‘healthy ageing’.

Our life expectancy has continuously increased over the past decades and with more than a quarter of Australians estimated to reach over 65 years of age by 2050, ageing research is becoming increasingly relevant to our society.

UQ-StemCARE will bring together researchers from across Australia to develop highly innovative and multidisciplinary research programs, and train a new generation of early career researchers to tackle the challenges of demographic change and an ageing society.

The cost of health care for the aged is foreseen to be one of the biggest risks to future economic growth and productivity of Australia. The key to avoiding this, is enabling the aged to remain active, productive and participatory within society. The goal to achieve this represents one of Australia’s greatest challenges in the next 50 years. The impending substantial socio-economic impacts of ageing demands that we understand the fundamental mechanisms of ageing and develop innovative clinically translatable solutions to foster healthy ageing, allowing the ageing population to have an active, productive, healthy life, less susceptible to disease and disability.

To develop novel solutions to extending health span as our population ages, it is essential to understand the biology of ageing and the fundamental mechanisms underlying the reduced capacity to maintain functional tissue as we age.

UQ-StemCARE will unravel the key cellular and molecular mechanisms that govern stem cell ageing and engineer clinical and commercial translatable solutions for increasing health span and active ageing.

Our research findings have the capacity to transform our understanding of the ageing process in humans, an outcome of direct societal importance that will inform the development of technologies to improve productivity and quality of life.

We will collaborate with clinical partners to bridge basic and clinical research and transfer our research findings into clinical practice for the benefit of our society.

The UQ-StemCARE centre aims to provide a comprehensive understanding of the fundamental molecular mechanisms and principles underlying loss in stem cell function as we age.

Scientiffic Aims

Our Centre has the following scientiffic aims:

  1. Discover the intrinsic (stem cell autonomous) and extrinsic (non-stem cell autonomous) regulators of stem cell ageing within in vivo perivascular, muscle, skeletal and neural stem cell niches.
  2. Develop robust in vitro and in vivo models to interrogate the functional interactions between the intrinsic and extrinsic processes that result in ageing of stem cells and their niches in these tissues.
  3. Demonstrate that manipulating novel key regulators (whether cellular, matrix or systemically-derived) can maintain stem cell and tissue function with age.
  4. Translate the scientific results into clinical solutions with commercial potential.

UQ-StemCARE integrated research programs

We focus on investigating the three critical tissue stem cell niches responsible for the bulk of age-associated productivity loss in society:

  • Perivascular - the niche that is present in all tissue stem cell niches (including neural and musculoskeletal), and specifically associated with age-related vascular diseases such as aterio-, arteriosclerosis
  • Neural – a complex niche defined originally by UQ researchers and associated with age-related diseases such as Alzheimer's, Parkinson's, and Dementia
  • Musculoskeletal – niches in muscle and bone are closely associated with the perivascular niche but are themselves separable and associated with age-related diseases such as muscle wasting, osteoporosis and osteo-arthritis

along with the system that connects them all, circulating cellular and soluble factors in the blood. This unique focus, coupled with our philosophy of viewing ageing as a ‘systems-wide’ stem cell phenomenon, will make this Centre distinct from any other national or global initiative aimed at understanding the ageing process.

UQ-StemCARE Facilities

It is UQ-StemCAREs central goal to understand the basic mechanisms of the ageing process and create highly innovative clinical solutions.

To achieve these goals, UQ-StemCARE will generate induced pluripotent stem cells from human and murine fibroblast cells across 100’s of donors of varying ages (young through to old) and genetically modify them using a commonly utilised genome editing technique (CRISPR) to probe possible mechanisms and drivers of ageing.

Such a massive task is impossible to achieve without the assistance of high throughput automated cell engineering and culture platforms (Paull et al. Nature Methods, Sept 2015).

We will establish the world’s first fully automated iPSc culture, generation and genome editing facility that is a necessity for the large and cutting edge stem cell ageing research program developed at UQ-StemCARE.

We have partnered with Perkin Elmer to create a world-class high throughput robotic facility for making iPSc, directing them into desired tissue cell types, and rapidly screening for novel therapeutic strategies that rejuvenate stem cells and their environments.

This cutting-edge technology platform will underpin the large amount of cell differentiation and genome modification required to carry out our stem cell based ageing research.

UQ-StemCare Collaborations

UQ-StemCARE collaborates with leading national and international institutions and research groups.

Ongoing exchange between researchers is pivotal for making important discoveries that will move the field of stem cell research and regenerative medicine forward.

Our directors are involved in various national and international networks and we are currently developing academic exchange programs for both scientists and PhD students with our partners.

We have collaborations with world leading research groups at The Massachusetts Institute of Technology (US); Stanford University (USA); ETH (Switzerland); EPFL (Switzerland); Seoul National University (Korea); University of Grenoble (France); Politecnico di Milano (Italy); University College London (UK); Max Planck Institute (Germany), University of Dammam (Saudi Arabia); Utrecht University (The Netherlands); The University of Copenhagen (Denmark); and the National University of Singapore.

A close partnership connects the Centre and the CSIRO’s Division of Materials Science and Engineering, with Professor Cooper-White being a CSIRO Office of the Chief Executive (OCE) Science Leader – only 13 OCE’s are appointed Australia-wide. Both PIs and students benefit from the active exchange and networking with the associated scientists.

We also host symposia, conferences and seminars and welcome researchers from all over the world to come and share their knowledge in our newly established stem cell ageing research seminar.

We are always looking for promising early career researchers and PhD candidates. Our centre will provide professional support for successful candidates in applying to various fellowship programs to enable their stay at UQ-StemCARE. If you are interested in working with us, please contact the centre manager.

We also welcome established scientists to participate in the centre’s research activities for short stays or sabbaticals. Please contact the centre manager for further information.

News and Media

Stem Cell Ageing Research Centre launched:

TedX talks

News releases

Seminars and Key Note lectures 

  • QIMR special seminar with Prof. Wolvetang on Human Functional Genomics using IPSC and CRISPR
  • Key note lecture by Prof Cooper-White on “Human kidney organogenesis from pluripotent stem cells on a chip” at the 16th International Conference on Biomedical Engineering in Singapore 
  • Justin Cooper-White giving a plenary talk entitled “Directing stem cell fate for regenerative medicine applications” at the 6th Malaysia Tissue Engineering and Regenerative Medicine (MTERMS) conference
  • Presentation at the 9th Annual ASSCR Meeting in Western Australia on “Targeted gene delivery for reprogramming” by Prof Cooper-White

Podcasts

StemCARE Research Projects

Our Centre has the following scientific aims:

  1. Discover the intrinsic (stem cell autonomous) and extrinsic (non-stem cell autonomous) regulators of stem cell ageing within in vivo perivascular, muscle, skeletal and neural stem cell niches.
  2. Develop robust in vitro and in vivo models to interrogate the functional interactions between the intrinsic and extrinsic processes that result in ageing of stem cells and their niches in these tissues.
  3. Demonstrate that manipulating novel key regulators (whether cellular, matrix or systemically-derived) can maintain stem cell and tissue function with age.
  4. Translate the scientific results into clinical solutions with commercial potential.

UQ-StemCARE integrated research programs

StemCARE Directors


 

StemCARE Team


 

 

StemCARE associated CIs


 

StemCARE Scientific Advisory Board 



Thomas A Rando
Director, The Glenn Centre for the Biology of Ageing, Stanford University School of Medicine, USA Deputy Director, Stanford Centre on Longevity

Gerald de Haan
Scientific Director, European Research Institute for the Biology of Ageing, The University of Groningen, The Netherlands Group Leader, Laboratory of Ageing Biology and Stem Cells

Hartmut Geiger
Director Institut of Molecular Medicine and Stem Cell Aging, University Ulm, Germany Director Comprehensive Mouse and Cancer Core, Cincinnati Children’s Hospital, USA

Peter Zandstra
Professor, Biomedical Research Centre, Faculty of Medicine, University of British Columbia, Vancouver, Canada Executive Director, CFREF: Medicine by Design, Toronto, Canada Associate Director R&D, Ontario Institute for Regenerative Medicine (OIRM), Toronto, Canada

Donations to UQ-StemCARE can be made through the main AIBN Donation fund. 

To ensure your donation goes direct to stemcare: please select "Other" under "Make a gift to" and enter "UQ-StemCARE

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Directors

Professor Ernst Wolvetang
T: +61 7 3346 3894
F: +61 7 3346 3973
E: e.wolvetang@uq.edu.au

Professor Justin Cooper-White
T: +61 7 3346 3858
F: +61 7 3346 3973
E: j.cooperwhite@uq.edu.au

Centre Manager

Dr Brit Winnen 
T: +61 7 3346 3835
F: +61 7 3346 3973
E: stemcare@uq.edu.au

Mailing/Delivery Address

Australian Institute for Bioengineering
and Nanotechnology (AIBN)
Corner College and Cooper Rds (Bldg 75)
The University of Queensland
Brisbane Qld 4072
Australia