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Embryonic stem cells


Embryonic stem (ES) cells have the potential to differentiate into any cell type of the developing embryo and adult. For this reason they have proved invaluable in understanding the molecular mechanisms that drive normal development and can provide a window into what happens during abnormal development. In addition, ES cells have great potential in treating a large number of currently incurable or poorly treatable human diseases and injuries, including neuropathies, brain and spinal injuries, muscular diseases, and diabetes.


Dr Michael Morris.

Research location

Camperdown - School of Medical Sciences - Bosch Institute

Program type



This project examines the directed differentiation of mouse ES cells, via a series of embryologically relevant cell types, to mature neurons, glia and neural crest cells that make up the central and peripheral nervous system. This system serves as an in vitro model for understanding the molecular mechanisms underpinning critical developmental milestones. Our focus is on the following mechanisms which interact with one another in a complex ‘ballet' to drive development: (i) Signalling pathways, (ii) Metabolism of key metabolic compounds, (iii) Expression of master and slave genes. We have discovered a number of unique molecules critical to these mechanisms including selected amino acids which, very surprisingly, act like growth factors to stimulate neural development.

Additional information

Techniques include tissue culture, cell signalling analysis, gene expression analysis, immunohistochemistry and flow cytometry.

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Opportunity ID

The opportunity ID for this research opportunity is 1596