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Who we are

Left to right: Dr Trish Cmielewski, Dr Martin Donnelley, A/Prof David Parsons, Alexandra MaCarron, Nikki Reyne, Dr Nigel Farrow, Chantelle Carpentieri, Dr Juliette Delhove, Mark Gardner, Bernadette Boog and Dr Nathan Rout-Pitt

Left to right: Dr Martin Donnelley, Rhiannon Murrie, Richard Carnibella, A/Prof David Parsons, A/Prof Andreas Fouras, Nigel Farrow, Dr Kaye Morgan. Absent Dr Karen Siu. Photo taken at the BL20XU beamline at SPring-8 Synchrotron, Japan.

Director

A/Prof David Parsons
+61 (0)8 816 17004
david.parsons@adelaide.edu.au / david.parsons@health.sa.gov.au

Associate Professor David Parsons is the Cystic Fibrosis Airway Research Group (CFARG) Director. He is a Chief Medical Scientist in the Department of Respiratory And Sleep Medicine at the Women's and Children's Hospital, a Robinson Research Institute Research Leader, and an Affiliate Senior Lecturer  at the University of Adelaide Medical School. He has devoted the past 23 years to finding a cure for Cystic Fibrosis airway disease, has twice-won Service Excellence Awards, and recently led the CFARG team to a shared Award for his innovations in respiratory research and testing at the Women's and Children's Hospital. He was recognised as a fellow of the ANZSRS in 2015, and received their research medal in the same year.

He and his research team have pioneered a ground-breaking gene therapy technique that has been successful in reversing the basic cellular defect that causes CF in mouse models, showing the clear potential for gene-addition therapy as a long-lasting treatment for CF lung disease. David was also responsible for initiating leading-edge research into the surface behaviour of airways in health and disease using non-invasive synchrotron X-ray imaging techniques. In collaborations with Monash University colleagues starting in 2015 he has assisted them (and more recently in their new roles in the Australian startup company 4Dx.com) with developing a revolutionary lung motion imaging technique to assess CF lung disease.  This technology is now undergoing FDA assessment for approval for human use.

In related work, by monitoring the depth of the airway surface liquid (ASL) and the transit of microscopic particles previously considered too small to view in living airways, David and the team hope are able to measure the level of success of new airway treatments. This approach is being applied to assessing the effectiveness of the  gene-addition therapy that is planned for future use in CF patients. More recently David led development of novel methods for precision lung lobe dosing in rats by adapting an endoscope used in humans to use in rat lungs. The combination of precision dosing with the new method of local-region assessment of lung function changes the group has new and powerful tools to assist in CF lung treatment developments.

David's creation and development of CF airway gene transfer methods were supported initially by the USA CF Foundation, and have evolved to attract funding from State and National funding bodies, including the National Health and Medical Research Council in Australia, the Fay Fuller Foundation SA, the Gandel Foundation in Victoria, and the Cure 4 Cystic Fibrosis Foundation.

Co-Director

Dr Martin Donnelley
+61 (0)8 816 19181
martin.donnelley@adelaide.edu.au

Dr Martin Donnelley is a Senior Research Fellow at the University of Adelaide, and the Co-Director of the Cystic Fibrosis Airway Research Group. He trained as a Biomedical Engineer and completed a PhD in Medical Image Processing at Flinders University in 2008. Martin joined the group in 2007 as a post-doctoral researcher on an NHMRC grant.

He has spent the last ten years developing gene therapy methodologies, as well as technologies for the measurement of in vivo dynamic airway function in animal models. His key achievements lie in the area of non-invasive synchrotron imaging of respiratory processes at scales that have not previously been possible in vivo. He developed a novel non-invasive airway health assessment method based on using synchrotron imaging to track changes in the mucociliary transit (MCT) behaviour of deposited marker particles following pharmaceutical treatments. This work is linked to studies he performed with collaborator Dr Kaye Morgan from Monash University, that show they can also measure changes in airway surface liquid (ASL) depth in live anaesthetised mouse airways. They have now combined these methods into a single powerful airway health assessment method.

In 2016 he and collaborators from Monash University published the first demonstration of the use of X-ray based pulmonary function testing for the quantification of lung disease heterogeneity in B-ENaC mice. This imaging method gathers lung motion information during normal breathing, and has revolutionary potential since it can detect, quantify and follow changes in regional lung function over time. In 2017 he championed the development of an Adelaide-based CF rat model using CRISPR/Cas9 gene editing, to facilitate further development of the group's airway gene therapy.

Postdoctoral Scientists

Dr Trish Cmielewski
+61 (0)8 816 16430
patricia.cmielewski@adelaide.edu.au

Dr Trish Cmielewski gained a BSc in Biology at Flinders University of SA and her early career saw her employed in a wide range of disciplines including Anaesthesia and Intensive Care, Pain Management, Histopathology and Gastroenterology. In 2001 Trish began working as a Medical Scientist with the Department of Respiratory and Sleep Medicine at the Women's and Children's Hospital, Adelaide, South Australia.

Trish has considerable experience in both clinical and experimental aspects of medical research and completed a PhD in lentiviral airway gene therapy for the treatment of cystic fibrosis in a mouse model. Trish's research is currently focussed on improving our therapeutic CFTR gene vector into both rodent models of CF. She is also the Manager of the Cystic Fibrosis Airway Research Group’s Allan Scott Laboratory.

Dr Nigel Farrow
+61 (0)8 816 19183
nigel.farrow@adelaide.edu.au

Dr Nigel Farrow gained a BMSc in molecular biology and genetics from Flinders University, South Australia in 2009 and a BHSc (Hons) from The University of Adelaide School of Medicine in 2010. Nigel joined the Adelaide Cystic Fibrosis Airway Research Group in 2010 for his Honours project, and has remained with the group, completing a PhD in 2014. Nigel has a research interest in gene therapy for cystic fibrosis focusing on endogenous respiratory stem cells and their role in sustained transgene expression. Nigel is also investigating the impact on increasing transgene expression by multiple vector dosing strategies and its impact on the immune system in an animal model.

Dr Nathan Rout-Pitt
nathan.rout-pitt@adelaide.edu.au

Dr Nathan Rout-Pitt completed a BSc in molecular biology at Flinders University, as well as honours in molecular aquaculture before moving to the University of Adelaide to undertake his PhD. Nathan’s work during his PhD focused on mesenchymal stem cells and gene therapy. During this work he used the same lentiviral vector used by the Cystic Fibrosis Airway Research Group, and due to this expertise Nathan joining the group in late 2015.

Nathan is now responsible for overseeing the CF Airway Research Group’s plasmid and lentiviral vector production needs, and has recently increased the group’s production capacity through the development of a method for upscaling adherent LV vector production. Nathan is also interested in understanding the stem cell niche within the lungs, and determining whether we can target stem cells with LV vector, administer normal cells to populate the lungs with CFTR functional cells, or modulate the stem cells to reduce the fibrosis effects that are responsible for lung damage.

Dr Juliette Delhove
juliette.delhove@adelaide.edu.au

Dr Juliette Delhove completed her Bachelor of Science degree in South Africa at the University of Cape Town in 2008. She specialised in biochemistry, genetics and development, and was awarded a Medical Honours degree in human genetics the following year. Subsequently, she studied at Imperial College London in the UK where she obtained a Masters degree in human molecular genetics. This lead to a collaboration between Queen Mary’s University of London and University College London where she worked as a research assistant developing biosensing lentiviral reporters. These were utilized to non-invasively monitor biological pathways in vivo with the aim of reducing the number of animals required for experimentation.

Concurrently, Juliette was enrolled as a PhD student at the University of the Witwatersrand, in collaboration with St. George’s University of London. Her project evaluated the temporal signalling profiles of key biological pathways during the development of liver disease. In 2016 she was employed at the Great Ormond Street Institute of Child Health were she was part of a consortium focused on developing a packaging cell line for large scale lentiviral production. In 2017, she relocated to Australia and is now a part of the Cystic Fibrosis Airway Research Group where she will be utilising her skills to develop and optimise lentiviral vectors for use in gene therapy for cystic fibrosis.

Postgraduate Students

Harsha Padmanabhan
harshavardini.padmanabhan@adelaide.edu.au

Project: Aerosol airway gene transfer techniques for clinical use
Harsha Padmanabhan joined the Adelaide Cystic Fibrosis Gene Therapy Research Group in late 2012. Harsha gained a BSc in Biotechnology, Manipal University, India and from there moved to Adelaide in 2008 where she completed her Masters degree in Human Biotechnology, Flinders University, South Australia. She worked as a research assistant for Bioconst Pty Ltd specializing in plant tissue culture at the Waite Campus, The University of Adelaide. Harsha's PhD research is focussed on examining aerosol gene transfer technique for clinical use, specifically improving lentiviral transduction efficiency following aerosol delivery.

Ryan Green
ryan.green@adelaide.edu.au

Project: Accurate, Automated Analysis of Respiratory Genetic Therapies through Synchrotron derived Volumetric Images 
Ryan Green is a PhD candidate who joined the group in early 2013. While obtaining a BSc with Honours at the University of South Australia Ryan gained wide-ranging research experience primarily in the area of bioinformatics, but also including digital forensics, data-mining, and medical informatics among others. During these projects Ryan worked with institutions including the Flinders Medical Centre, Royal Adelaide Hospital, The Institute of Medical and Veterinary Science, and the Bioinformatics Department of the Heinrich Heine University of Duesseldorf. Ryan's PhD is focussed on developing methods and processes to analyse the effectiveness of respiratory therapies, including genetic and pharmaceutical therapies.

Alexandra McCarron
alexandra.mccarron@student.adelaide.edu.au

Project: Upscaling lentivirus production for use in pre-clinical airway gene therapy studies
Ali joined the Cystic Fibrosis Research Group for her Bachelor of Health Science Honours project in 2015, after completing her undergraduate degree in Bachelor of Animal Science. During her undergraduate degree Ali become interested in the use of animal models to study human diseases and how animals can play a significant role in the establishment of disease treatments which led to her honours project. In 2016 Ali started a PhD with the group. Her project aims to modify lentivirus production methods, including the use of bioreactor technology, to produce larger quantities of vector, and to reduce the immunogenicity of the vector preparation to improve the success of repeat administration.

Chantelle Carpentieri
chantelle.carpentieri@adelaide.edu.au

Project: Assessment of Airway Conditioning Compounds for Improving Cystic Fibrosis Airway Gene Therapy
Chantelle joined the Cystic Fibrosis Airway Research Group in 2016. The aim of her honours project was to assess whether pseudotyping LV vector with HA results in stronger gene expression than VSV-G, whether it transduces basal stem cells, and whether the use of LPC conditioning results in extended persistence or improved basal stem cell targeting. In 2018 Chantelle started a PhD with the group. Her project aims to demonstrate the benefits of pre-conditioning for airway gene therapy, by investigating the effectiveness and safety of LPC and other alternative conditioning compounds on gene expression levels in cell culture and relevant animal models.

Administrative Staff

Bernadette Boog
+61 (0)8 816 17241
bernadette.boog@adelaide.edu.au

Bernadette is responsible for administrative support and management of the Gene Therapy research group. Her role involves management of financial cost centres, coordinating grant funding applications, OGTR, Biosafety, Ethics annual reports & business plans and maintaining strong collaborative relationships with hospital-based departments and external organizations. This role is an essential part of the CF Gene Therapy Research group bringing administrative continuity to this group of leading edge, globetrotting research scientists.

Affiliates

Dr Greg Smith
+61 (0)8 816 17008
greg.smith2@health.sa.gov.au

Dr Smith is a clinical respiratory specialist and allergist in the Respiratory and Sleep Medicine Department and part of the CF Clinic team at the WCH. He joined the CF Research Team in 2004, and provides practical experience and advice around the clinical development of CF airway gene therapy and technique training (e.g. bronchoscopic vector delivery). This important experimental-clinical interface assists research to relate to CF patient needs, assisting in the design and analysis of the animal model studies. His input is invaluable as we move towards translation of pre-clinical gene therapy protocols into human clinical trials.

Collaborators

University of North Carolina: Prof Richard Boucher
Monash University: Dr Karen Siu, A/Prof Andreas Fouras, Dr Kaye Morgan, A/Prof Anne Chidgey
Melbourne University: A/Prof Ivan Bertoncello
University of Western Australia: A/Prof Yuben Moodley, A/Prof Anthony Kicic
SAHMRI: Dr Tim Kuchel
UniSA: A/Prof Albert Juhasz, Dr Euan Smith, Dr Darren Miller, Dr Ivan Lee
SA Pathology: Dr Chantelle McIntyre

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