11 October 2005

Professor Julie Campbell, from UQ’s Australian Institute for Bioengineering and Nanotechnology (AIBN) has been awarded a prestigious Senior Principal Research Fellowship in the latest round of National Health and Medical Research Council grants announced yesterday (10/10/05).

A leading scientist in vascular biology, Professor Campbell is head of the team investigating the potential of stem cell biology to bioengineer blood vessels for transplantation.

Professor Campbell said currently heart bypass surgery required an artery or vein to be removed from a different part of the patient’s body, usually the leg, and transferred to the heart.

“Sometimes this is not possible, so development of an artificial artery would be a giant step forward for these patients,” she said.

“Not only are we using stem cell biology to discover the genetic messages responsible for the growth of blood vessels, we are also collaborating with AIBN’s Associate Professor Justin Cooper-White to establish the best scaffolds on which to grow these arteries.

“This work also has applications for the growth of artificial organs of the urogenital system, which has implications in the area of renal disease and kidney regeneration.

“The team is also involved in designing strategies to target and deliver drugs to sites of injury in the artery wall to prevent a recurrence of narrowing of the artery following surgery to remove atherosclerotic lesions.”

The number of research fellows awarded by the NHMRC is limited and the Scheme is prestigious and highly competitive, with less than 70 Senior Principal Research Fellows appoint across the nation in 2005.

Professor Campbell and collaborator Professor David Craik from UQ`s Institute for Molecular Bioscience, were also successful in attracting funding for their research into novel drug agents involved in the development of blood vessels. Professor Campbell also won another grant with a vascular surgeon collaborator, Dr Jon Golledge, from James Cook University in Townsville.

AIBN is Australia’s first fully integrated research institute to take a multidisciplinary approach to understanding and exploiting nanostructures, the genetic basis of cell activity and opportunities at the interface between bioengineering and nanotechnology.

Media for more information contact Russell Griggs (07) 3346 2636