PhD scholarship funding awarded for the next generation of gene and cell therapy researchers at Westmead Health Precinct

17 November 2020

Nine gene and cell therapy projects across the Westmead Health Precinct (Sydney Children’s Hospitals Network, Children’s Medical Research Institute (CMRI), The Westmead Institute for Medical Research (WIMR)) have been awarded funding to offer PhD scholarships for graduates to undertake research within the gene and gene-modified somatic cell therapy development and manufacture sectors by the NSW Government, Office for Health and Medical Research (OHMR).

Gene and cell therapies are emerging as a major game changer in medicine, proven to be effective therapies for previously untreatable diseases. The NSW Government had also previously announced its $25 million investment to build an advanced viral vector manufacturing facility at the Westmead Health Precinct.

The PhD scholarship funding awarded by OHMR through the University of Sydney (USYD) will allow successful graduates to undertake a commercialization training program to improve their understanding of the translational pathway of these therapies. Bringing research from the lab to the clinics, giving patients faster access to these ground breaking therapies.

The lead supervisors and successful projects awarded are:

Professor Ian Alexander - USYD, CMRI, SCHN

  • Development of a universal gene therapy approach using CRISPR-based genome editing technology to treat paediatric liver disease
  • Extending the therapeutic reach and biosafety of AAV-mediated gene transfer vectors to treat human metabolic liver disease

Professor Stephen Alexander – USYD, SCHN

  • Driving CARs to the Kidney
  • Developing Gene Therapy for Rare Genetic Kidney Disease

Professor Robyn Jamieson – USYD, CMRI, SCHN

  • Viral vector-based ocular gene therapy pipeline

Associate Professor Eddy Kizana – USYD, WIMR

  • Overcoming Barriers to Cardiac Gene Therapy

Dr Leszek Lisowski – USYD, CMRI

  • Developing a methodological infrastructure for research and quality management of unstable rAAV genome elements in support of clinical vector manufacturing
  • Development, optimisation and manufacturing of novel bespoke technologies for AAV-based gene therapies for neurological disorders

Associate Professor Aaron Schindeler – USYD, SCHN, WIMR

  • Development of tissue-targeted vectors for musculoskeletal gene therapy
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