Dr. Natalie Payne PhD

I undertook a PhD in immunology at the Monash Immunology and Stem Cell Laboratories, Monash University under the supervision of Prof Claude Bernard, funded by a Trish MS Research Foundation Postgraduate Research Scholarship. My work focused on investigating the potential stem cell types to treat MS using the EAE mouse model, and employed lentiviral vector-based approaches to overexpress anti-inflammatory cytokines to enhance their function. This work was published in four first author research papers, supported by a Postgraduate Publication Award. I turned down an opportunity to undertake post-doctoral research in the US due to family commitments, instead pursuing her interest in regenerative cell-based therapies by joining the Australian Regenerative Medicine Institute (ARMI) under Prof Bernard’s mentorship. One of my major post-doctoral research projects focused on MS-patient specific iPSCs, including undertaking transcriptional profiling of these cells and their derivatives in collaboration with Prof Louise Laurent at UCSD, for which I received incubator grant funding from MS Research Australia as CIA. During this period, I was also awarded an Ian Ballard Travel Fellowship from MS Research Australia to undertake training in surgical transplantation of stem cells into the CNS with Professor Tom Lane at the UCI. In collaboration with a research group at the Amrita Centre for Nanosciences and Molecular Medicine, India’s first NANOBIO Centre, I also helped to develop nanoparticle technology for induction of antigen-specific tolerance in autoimmune disease (PCT application filed). I established an independent collaboration with Dr Claire McCoy to investigate the role of miR-155 in regulating macrophage plasticity in MS, funded by an NHMRC new investigator grant to Dr McCoy on which I am an AI. We currently co-supervise a PhD student and recently received additional funding ($25,000) from MS Research Australia. In 2016, I was recruited to join the laboratory of renowned developmental molecular geneticist and stem cell biologist Prof Andras Nagy, who opened his satellite lab at ARMI in 2015. I now lead his MS research program that aims to use genomic technologies to design and create universal therapeutic cells with novel functions that are safe for clinical application.