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Scientific Team

Our Scientific Team is comprised of managers, research specialists, molecular biologists and quality systems experts, all integrated to provide high quality stem cell related services.

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ANDREW PROWSE, PhD

Facility Manager

Andrew has over 15 years’ experience in pluripotent stem cell (PSC) biology, bioprocess, project management and commercialisation. Andrew received his PhD in 2008 from the University of New South Wales looking at improvements to pluripotent cell expansion through low oxygen culture and proteomic assessment of feeder layer secretomes. As a PostDoc from 2008 to 2013 at The AIBN, Andrew continued his interest in process development and scale up of pluripotent cells. He developed a diverse set of skills that included bio-functionalised smart surfaces, bacterial based expression of extracellular matrix fragments, bioreactor technologies and polymer chemistry. In mid-2013, Andrew took a position as a Project Manager/Lead Scientist at the Centre for Commercialisation of Regenerative Medicine (Toronto, Canada) managing a range of regenerative medicine based projects. Returning to Australia, and the AIBN, Andrew continued his work on bioreactor based expansion of pluripotent cells and differentiation to cardiomyocytes. This work is now an on-going collaboration with stem cell scientists and clinicians around Australia as a joint recipient of an MRFF-Stem Cell Therapies Mission grant to drive the work to Phase I clinical trials. Andrew has recently joined StemCore bringing his management and stem cell biology experience to help drive StemCore’s strategic direction.

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KAREN HUGHES

Operations Manager

Karen has 12+ years international experience in the research, development and cGMP manufacture of mammalian biologics with over 6 years dedicated to client-facing and service roles within highly regulated and quality-controlled environments. Completing her Chemical Engineering degree from Cornell University, she moved into vaccine manufacture for human clinical trials at Merck & Co., Inc. (United States), working in process development, cGMP production and building regulatory documentation packages. She worked closely with clients to enable technology transfer of their biologics processes for late-stage cGMP clinical manufacturing at Thermo Fisher Scientific at their St Louis (United States) site. Within Australia, Karen has previously worked at the Australian Institute for Bioengineering and Nanotechnology (AIBN), University of Queensland, as a founding member of the National Biologics Facility (NBF) and was focussed on setting up capabilities and developing downstream purification processes to provide pre-clinical biopharmaceuticals for Australian researchers and biotech companies. She recently joined StemCore in 2020 to support the facility with building quality systems and an increased focus on operational excellence.

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DESI VELEVA, PhD

Research Specialist

Desi completed her PhD at the National Centre for Adult Stem Cell Research at Griffith University where she studied neurogenesis of the nervous system working with adult stem cells derived from the olfactory system and the brain. She joined the Cancer and Ageing Research Program (CARP) at the Translational Research Institute and worked as a postdoctoral fellow on projects focusing in genomic instability and ageing, as well as chemotherapy resistance in lung cancer. Desi has also worked as a clinical scientist in the Cancer Collaborative BioBank at Princess Alexandra Hospital where she gained invaluable knowledge and skills in Haematology and Blood Cancers. Before joining StemCore, Desi worked at the Centre for Stem Cell Ageing and Regenerative Engineering (StemCARE) at the AIBN. Her research focused on the establishment and characterisation of accelerated models for stem cell ageing. She joined StemCore in early 2020 to apply her excellent organisational and research skills in running our cell reprogramming and differentiation pipelines.

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MERVE AY, MSc

Research Specialist

Merve is responsible for the generation and characterization of transgenic human pluripotent stem cell lines using CRISPR/Cas9 and similar advanced technologies. Merve graduated in 2016 with a Bachelor of Science in Molecular Biology and Genetics at the Istanbul Kultur University (Turkey). In 2018, she joined StemCore under a mentorship program, where she gained advanced cell culture skills, reprogramming experience and cell analysis techniques. She completed her Masters of Molecular Biology Research Extensive degree at the University of Queensland and received a Dean’s Commendation for Academic Excellence. During her Master’s, she completed a major research project on the design and generation of tools for advanced human stem cell functional genomics. She joined StemCore full time in 2019 as a Research Specialist, and applies her excellent understanding and practical skills in molecular biology and genetics to provide high quality client services.

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NATHAN PALPANT, PhD

Senior Research Fellow

Nathan completed a BSc in Biology (magna cum laude) from Whitworth University in 2001 and a PhD in Molecular and Integrative Physiology from the University of Michigan in 2009. He then completed a postdoctoral fellowship at the University of Washington Institute for Stem Cell and Regenerative Medicine in 2015 studying the genetic and signalling basis of lineage decisions in cardiovascular development. In 2015 he was recruited as Group Leader at the University of Queensland’s Institute for Molecular Bioscience where he now heads the Stem Cell and Cardiovascular Development Laboratory. His laboratory focuses on mechanisms underlying mesoderm cell lineage decisions using human pluripotent stem cells, genomics, genome engineering, and bioengineering. Nathan is the resident gene-engineering specialist providing advice and design on gene-editing projects.