AGCTS Executive Committee
Associate Prof Paul Gegorevic
A/Prof Gregorevic is the Deputy Director of the Centre for Muscle Research at The University of Melbourne, and a Senior Research Fellow of the NHMRC. His research employs gene delivery technologies and skeletal muscle as a model system to a) investigate the mechanisms underlying the regulation of cell growth, adaptation and remodelling, and b) evaluate novel muscle-directed interventions for the prevention and treatment of heritable and acquired illness, frailty associated with advancing age, and rehabilitation following injury. Paul completed his BSc (Honours) at The University of Melbourne (1996), his Ph.D. in Physiology at The University of Melbourne (2001), and postdoctoral training with Prof. Gordon S. Lynch at The University of Melbourne (2001-2002), and subsequently with Prof. Jeffrey S. Chamberlain at The University of Washington U.S.A. (2002-2008). From 2008 until 2018, Paul was Head of the Laboratory for Muscle Research and Therapeutics, and Director of the Recombinant Viral Vector Facility at the Baker Heart and Diabetes Institute. Paul is the President of the Australasian Gene and Cell Therapy Society (2017-2019) and has served as an elected member of the Executive Committee of the AGCTS since 2009.
Jim Vadolas received his PhD from the University of Melbourne, Department of Microbiology and Immunology. In 1999, Jim undertook postdoctoral studies at the Murdoch Children’s Research Institute where he acquired expertise in genetic and molecular technique utilising bacterial artificial chromosome (BACs) and homologous recombination systems. In 2005, Dr Vadolas became group leader of the Cell and Gene Therapy group primarily interested in the development of gene therapy strategies for β-thalassaemia and related β-haemoglobinopathies. More recently, his expertise in β‑haemoglobinopathies enabled his group to establish a new research program investigating aberrant innate immune responses in β‑thalassaemia. In 2017, Jim relocated his research program to the Hudson Institute of Medical Research, Immunohaematology Group at the Centre for Cancer Research. Jim Vadolas is the current Vice President of the Australasian Gene and Cell Therapy Society, and has served as Committee Member and Vice President of the Thalassaemia and Sickle Cell Society of Australia from 2005-2017.
Prof Ann Simpson. PhD
Professor Simpson has a BSc (Hons) and a PhD in Veterinary Science from the University of Sydney. She was a Postdoctoral Fellow at the University of Sydney and the University of New South Wales and has held the position of Professor of Biochemistry in the School of Medical & Molecular Biosciences, University of Technology Sydney (UTS) since 2002. Prof. Simpson and has been Director of the Centre for Health Technologies (UTS) since 2006 and Head of School (2009-13). Her research interest is the Gene Therapy of Diabetes. To this end she has developed a number of insulin-secreting liver cell lines, one of which, the Melligen cells is licenced for development to PharmaCyte Biotech. She was also the first to show permanent reversal of diabetes using a lentiviral vector system in chemically diabetic rats and autoimmune diabetic mice. She is currently pursuing this technology using an adeno-associated vector system with Prof. Ian Alexander. She is the founding Treasurer and Public Officer of the Australasian Gene & Cell Therapy Society and Board member of the Australian College of Biomedical Scientists.
Dr Samantha Ginn
Dr Samantha Ginn received her PhD from The University of Sydney in 1999 and is now a senior researcher in the Gene Therapy Research Unit at the Children’s Medical Research Institute (CMRI) in Westmead, Sydney. Her research focuses on developing treatment strategies for diseases of the liver and haematopoietic system using gene transfer and genome editing technology. Both these organs have immense promise as targets for the treatment of genetic disease in children. Dr Ginn is the current Secretary of the Australasian Gene and Cell Therapy Society and sits on Institutional Committees for Animal Ethics, Grants Advisory, Early Career Researchers (ECRs), Gender Equity and Postgraduate Student Selection. She received the “Panos Ioannou Young Investigator Award” from the Australasian Gene and Cell Therapy Society in 2007 and in 2017 her work was again recognised by the Society with the “Inaugural Esteemed Member Award”. Dr Ginn aims to increase the Society’s profile and strengthen ties within the Asia-Pacific region.
Dr Sharon Cunningham
Dr Sharon Cunningham is a senior research scientist in the Gene Therapy Research Unit at the Children’s Medical Research Institute, Westmead. I obtained my PhD in Applied Biology and Biotechnology from RMIT University in Melbourne and then undertook postdoctoral studies in the Molecular and Cellular Development group at the University of Warwick in the UK. I joined the GTRU in 2002 where my research has focused on the development of adeno-associated viral vectors for the treatment of metabolic liver disease in paediatric patients, in particular the urea cycle disorder ornithine transcarbamylase deficiency. We have achieved great success in correcting the phenotype in mouse models, and are now developing vectors for the clinic. Within the institute, I have been involved in supervision of Honours and PhD students, and am a member of various committees. I have been an Executive Committee member of the Australasian Gene and Cell Therapy Society now since 2011.
Dr May Thandar Aung-Htut
Dr. Aung-Htut graduated from University of New South Wales in 2008, with a PhD in Biochemistry and Molecular genetics. She worked as a postdoctoral fellow under Prof. Ian Dawes at UNSW for two years. The project focused on cell ageing using S. cerevisiae as a model. She then moved to Adelaide in 2010 and joined Prof. Sharad Kumar at Centre for Cancer Biology, University of South Australia till March 2014. She was part of a team investigating the transcriptional regulation of steroid hormone ecdysone mediated programmed cell death during Drosophila development. At presence she is working at Centre for Comparative Genomics, Murdoch University, Western Australia under the guidance of Prof. Sue Feltcher and Prof. Steve Wilton to design and characterize therapeutic splice switching antisense oligonucleotides for different diseases including multiple sclerosis and Pompe disease.
Dr Cindy Kok
Cindy Kok undertook a PhD with Professor Ian Alexander at the Children’s Medical Research Institute. Her research focus was liver targeted gene therapy using AAV for urea cycle defects. She then received fellowships from the Japan Society for the Promotion of Science (JSPS) and the Asia Pacific Association for the Study of the Liver (APASL) for a postdoctoral position at the University of Tokyo (JAPAN), to investigate the role of liver progenitor cells in regeneration and tumorigenesis. This was followed by a position at the National Center for Global Health and Medicine (JAPAN), which was supported by the Endeavour Research fellowship. The research focus was to treat a mouse model for nonalcoholic steatohepatitis using AAV mediated gene therapy. She is now based in Sydney at the Westmead Institute for Medical Research, and will be using her experience to develop gene and cellular therapy strategies for heart arrhythmias.