Research Focus

The Wolvetang group creates brain organoids from human pluripotent stem cells in order to elucidate the genetic, environmental and ageing impacts on human brain development and function, with the aim of developing therapeutics.

Our strategy is to capture the genomic make-up of an individual by reprogramming patient-derived blood or skin cells into immortal human induced pluripotent stem cells that can make all cell types of the human body (including the brain). CRISPR-enabled manipulation of the genome, epigenome and gene expression in the lentil-sized in-vitro brain organoid models are combined with robotic high-content imaging approaches, single-cell analysis gene expression and functional read-outs on multi-electrode arrays to understand the underlying molecular mechanisms of disease and to screen therapeutics. These approaches continue to provide new insights into the neuropathogenic processes in Down syndrome, Ataxia-Telangiectasia, childhood white matter disease (leukodystrophies) and cortical dysplasia, and uniquely enable assessment of the impacts of neurotropic viruses such as ZIKA and SARS-COV2. We also use brain organoid models to design personalised treatments for drug-resistant epilepsy, and for pre-clinical testing of gene therapy and drug treatments for neurodegenerative diseases and ageing-related processes such as senescence.

Capacity building:
Prof Wolvetang leads the QLD node of the TANCR-Phenomics Australia NNAT Initiative.






Professor Wolvetang leads three MRFF funded missions, the UQ node of the NNAT Phenomics Australia Initiative and the Australian Organoid Facility at UQ. He collaborates with leading clinical researchers of neurological diseases such as Prof David Coman, Prof Patrick Kwan, Prof Terry O’Brien, and Dr Adeline Vanderver (Washington Children Hospital). Professor Wolvetang further leads a number of industry projects that leverage in-house automation systems, multi-electrode array technology, advanced tranbscriptome analysis methods, and stem cell derived organoid models for testing of therapeutics. He engages with multiple patient advocacy groups such as GC4K, the Massimo Foundation, and BrAshAT to foster the development of novel therapeutics for hereditary spastic paraplegias, hypo-myelinating diseases, and childhood ataxias.