The Scientific Advisory Committee

The purpose of this committee is advising the Director on all scientific issues relevant to the Australian Regenerative Medicine Institute. In particular, it assists the Director with preparing and implementing the scientific programme of the institute. 

The Committee works together with the Director and, when necessary, seeks the counsel of other experts in the field. 

Scientific Advisory Committee members

Professor Dame Kay Davies
Professor Sir Magdi Yacoub
Professor Peter Rigby
Professor Eric Olson


Professor Dame Kay Davies

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 Professor Davies has conducted extensive research into a common genetic muscular disease called Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy (DMD). In the 1980s Professor Davies developed a test which allowed for the screening of foetuses whose mothers have a high risk of carrying DMD.  DMD occurs when the dystrophin protein fails to express in muscle cells due to a mutation in the gene which codes for the protein.  In 1989 Professor Davies discovered that the utrophin protein has similar properties to dystrophin and has since shown in mouse models that upregulation of the former protein in muscle cells can compensate for the absence of the latter.  

Professor Davies also has considerable experience of biotechnology companies as a conduit for translating the results of experimental science into new therapeutics and diagnostics.  She co-founded one biotechnology company (Summit plc, formerly VASTox plc) and is a director of one other company.  She is a member of the Technology Transfer Challenge Committee at the Wellcome Trust.

Professor Davies is a founding Fellow of the Academy of Medical Sciences, was elected a Fellow of the Royal Society in 2003, and was made a Dame of the British Empire  (DBE) for services to science in the 2008 New Year Honours.

Professor Davies is a Wellcome Trust governor and an Executive Editor of the journal Human Molecular Genetics and an Honorary Fellow, Somerville College, University of Oxford.


Professor Sir Magdi Yacoub

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Sir Magdi Yacoub is currently Professor of Cardiothoracic Surgery at the National Heart & Lung Institute, Imperial College, and Founder and Director of Research at the Harefield Heart Science Centre (Magdi Yacoub Institute) overseeing over 60 scientists and students in the areas of tissue engineering, myocardial regeneration, stem cell biology, end stage heart failure and transplant immunology.

Professor Yacoub was born in Egypt and graduated from Cairo University Medical School in 1957, trained in London and held an Assistant Professorship at the University of Chicago. He is a former BHF Professor of Cardiothoracic Surgery and Consultant Cardiothoracic Surgeon at Harefield Hospital and Royal Brompton Hospital. Professor Yacoub established the largest heart and lung transplantation programme in the world where more than 2,500 transplant operations have been performed. He has also developed novel operations for a number of complex congenital heart anomalies. He was knighted for his services to medicine and surgery in 1991, awarded Fellowship of the Academy of Medical Sciences in 1998 and Fellowship of The Royal Society in 1999. A lifetime outstanding achievement award in recognition of his contribution to medicine was presented to Professor Yacoub by the Secretary of State for Health in the same year. 


Professor Peter Rigby

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Peter Rigby is one of the world’s best known developmental biologists and is currently Deputy Chairman of the Wellcome Trust.  Professor Rigby was Chief Executive of the Institute of Cancer Research since 1999 until 2011.  He is Professor of Developmental Biology at the University of London and works on the regulation of gene expression during the development of the embryo.  He is also a Fellow of the Royal Society and a Fellow of the Academy of Medical Sciences.

Professor Rigby has made several discoveries in oncogenesis and vertebrate development which have had major impact on the thinking in these fields. He analysed how viruses transform cells, showing how to identify transformation-responsive genes, which led to ground-breaking discoveries regarding RNA Polymerase III regulation, and the demonstration that TBP is a truly general transcription factor.


Professor Eric Olson

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Professor and Chairman of Molecular Biology, University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center at Dallas; Robert A. Welch Distinguished Chair in Science; Annie and Willie Nelson Professorship in Stem Cell Research; Pogue Distinguished Chair in Research on Cardiac Birth Defects.

Professor Eric Olson received a B.A. from Wake Forest University, Winston-Salem, N.C., and a Ph.D. from Bowman Gray School of Medicine of Wake Forest University.  After a postdoctoral fellowship at Washington University School of Medicine, he joined the Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology at The University of Texas M. D. Anderson Cancer Center as an Assistant Professor, where he rose to the rank of Professor and Chairman.  In 1995, he moved to The University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center at Dallas, where he is professor and chairman of the Department of Molecular Biology. He holds the Annie and Willie Nelson Professor in Stem Cell Biology Chair.

Professor Olson has been studying muscle development since his first faculty position in the mid 1980s.  Since that time Professor Olson and his team have discovered major pathways and molecular players that control muscle differentiation,  including MEF-2, which promotes development of all three muscle-types: smooth, skeletal, and cardiac. They also discovered the skeletal muscle factor myogenin, the smooth muscle factor, myocardin, and Hand1 and Hand2, which control the growth of the chambers of the heart.

More recently, Professor Olson has focused on pathologic cardiac muscle growth and its link to heart failure.  More recently still, he has been investigating the role of microRNAs—small gene regulatory molecules—in that growth process.

Professor Olson is a member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, the National Academy of Sciences, and the Institute of Medicine.  He has been active on many scientific advisory boards and serves on the editorial boards of numerous scientific journals. 

 

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