Seminar details

12.30pm—1.30pm, Friday 5 August 2016, QBP Auditorium (Building 80), UQ St Lucia campus

Please note: Seating is limited. Please arrive early to avoid disappointment.


Professor Melissa Little

Head, Kidney Development, Disease and Regeneration Lab
Murdoch Childrens Research Institute 
Royal Children’s Hospital, Melbourne


Building organs in dishes: moving from party trick to medical application

The concept of regenerative medicine has been with us for some time. However, with the exception of the culture of relatively simple structures, such as skin or cartilage, the bioengineering of complex organs has been a major challenge.

Recent advances in the directed differentiation of human pluripotent stem cells is beginning to move this from fiction to reality. The realisation that the differentiation of such cells can result in the formation of organoids comprised of multiple cell types, and that these cell types know how to arrange themselves to begin to recapitulate function, is a major advance in regenerative medicine.

Organoids of complex structures, such as the eye, brain, intestine and kidney, have now been described. At first blush, for patients seeking alternatives to current treatment options, this is fantastic news. The actual delivery of a clinical treatment, however, remains in the distance.

So what is feasible currently, what is still needed to move this into clinical trial and is this likely? In the interim, what else can we learn from building mini-organs in a dish that may change medical practice? 

Speaker bio

Professor Melissa Little heads the Kidney Development, Disease and Regeneration Laboratory at the Murdoch Childrens Research Institute, Royal Children’s Hospital, Melbourne and is a Professor in the Faculty of Medicine, Dentistry and Health Sciences, University of Melbourne, Australia.

For more than 20 years her research has focussed on the molecular basis of kidney development, renal disease and repair. She is internationally recognised for her work on the systems biology of kidney development and also her pioneering studies into potential regenerative therapies in the kidney.

A Fellow of the Australian Academy of Health and Medical Sciences, Professor Little’s work has been recognised by many awards, including the GlaxoSmithKline Award for Research Excellence (2005), ANZSCDB Presidents Medal (2015) and a Boorhaave Professorship, Leiden University (2015).

She founded Nephrogenix Pty Ltd and from 2007-2008, she served as the Chief Scientific Officer at the Australian Stem Cell Centre. Melissa is Vice President of the Australasian Society for Stem Cell Research and a member of Stem Cells Australia.

Seminar host

Professor Paul Alewood, IMB Seminar Series Coordinator,



Qld Bioscience Precinct, Building 80, 306 Carmody Road, UQ St Lucia