04 May, 2021

Professor Clare Parish

The Florey Institute of Neuroscience and Mental Health, The University of Melbourne

Advancing stem cell therapies for neural repair


The derivation of neurotransmitter and region-specific neuronal populations from human pluripotent stem cells has provided impetus for advancing cell therapies into the clinic. At the forefront has been our ability to generate dopamine neurons, suitable for transplantation in Parkinson’s disease (PD). In this seminar Parish will provide a brief historical summary of the lessons learnt from fetal tissue grafting for PD in the late 1980s/90s, current pluripotent stem cell-based clinical trials and the challenges that continue to plague the field. She will present recent work from her team aimed at improving the purity of neural grafts through cell sorting and suicide gene approaches, enhancing graft plasticity and integration through combined gene therapy as well as the benefits of functionalised biomaterials to support graft integration. While the focus of the talk will be on PD, Parish and her team have demonstrated that many of these problems and solutions hold relevant to other neurological conditions for which cell transplantation is a plausible therapeutic option – with parallel work focused on stroke.


Clare is an NHMRC senior Research Fellow. She heads the Stem cells & Neural Development laboratory and the broader Neuroregeneration Division. She completed a Bachelor of Biomedical Science and PhD at Monash before embarking a postdoctorate at the Karolinska Institute in Sweden. She returned to Melbourne in 2007 to establish her own group at the Florey. Clare has a broad research interest in repairing the injured brain, places a strong emphasis on understanding neural development, with the idea that controlling stem cells and repairing the injured brain will require recapitulation of many of these early events. Consequently, there are a number of research themes running within the laboratory including understanding early neuronal development, directed differentiation of pluripotent stem cells, mechanisms underlying axonal plasticity, deployment of functionalised biomaterial and improving cell transplantation for neural repair. Clare has been the recipient of the Viertel Senior Medical Fellowship, NHMRC career development award and Human Frontiers Science Program fellowship. She has held ongoing NHMRC funding, and is additionally supported by MRFF, the Michael J Fox Foundation and commercial partners. Clare has >100 peer-reviewed publications (including in Cell Stem Cell, Nature Communications, Cell Reports and Journal of Neuroscience). She provides ongoing service to science through a number of national and international committee, networks, editorial boards and peer reviewing for granting agencies and journals.

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