Plenary Speakers

Associate Professor Geraldine Mitchell, St Vincent’s Institute of Medical Research, Australia

Geraldine Mitchell is Leader of the Vascular Biology Group at the O’Brien Institute Dept. of St Vincent’s Institute of Medical Research, Melbourne.
For 15 years she has been involved in research projects investigating in vitro and in vivo blood vessel tissue engineering including vascularizing 3D scaffold constructs, organoids and animal models, wound healing angiogenesis, and implanted cell survival in in vivo tissue engineering models.
In recent work, her group has examined in vitro formation of human capillary networks using primary human blood microvascular endothelial cells, primary human lymphatic endothelial cells and human induced pluripotent stem cell (hiPSC)-derived endothelial cells. Each of these endothelial cell types has been seeded into a porous polyurethane scaffold and capillary formation assessed. In vivo, the scaffolds containing the capillary networks have been transplanted into subdermal positions; and over vascular pedicles in mice and rats to form a ‘vascular flap’. Her group is also forming skin from hiPSC to use as a covering over the vascular flap and thereby assembling a human skin tissue flap for wound repair.

Dr Daniel Pletzer, University of Otago, New Zealand

Dr. Daniel Pletzer is a Senior Lecturer at the University of Otago. He did his PhD at the Jacobs University Bremen in Germany where he studied mechanisms to improve antibiotic uptake in the human pathogen Pseudomonas aeruginosa. He was awarded one of Germany’s most prestigious Feodor-Lynen Postdoctoral Fellowships from the Alexander von Humboldt Foundation and joined the lab of world-renowned Prof. Bob Hancock at the University of British Columbia in Canada. His postdoctoral research focused on novel therapeutics, based on host defense peptides, and the use of animal models of disease. Dr. Pletzer started his lab in the Microbiology & Immunology Department at the University of Otago in 2019 where his team study new ways to fight infectious diseases and searches for strategies to overcome antimicrobial resistance in bacteria that have been categorized as “critical” priority pathogens by the World Health Organization. This includes multidrug resistant organisms that cause severe and often deadly infections and therefore pose an enormous threat in our hospitals. He is particularly interested in hard-to-treat clinical isolates involved in multidrug resistance and chronic infections associated with bacterial communities known as biofilms. Using a chronic murine skin abscess model, his lab is uncovering mechanisms of how multiple pathogens, especially P. aeruginosa and Staphylococcus aureus, cause disease and how to better treat co-infections using a variety of novel nanomedicines including peptidomimetics and nanoparticles. Dr. Pletzer has published over 60 manuscripts and review articles and won several other early career awards including awards from the Cystic Fibrosis Canada Foundation and the Michael Smith Foundation for Health Research (Canada).

Dr Leah Vardy, Agency for Science, Technology and Research, Singapore

Leah Vardy is the Covering Executive Director of the A*STAR Skin Research Labs (A*SRL) and the Director of Research Operations at the Skin Research Institute of Singapore (SRIS). Leah did her Ph.D at the Imperial Cancer Research Fund in London followed by post doctoral work at the Whitehead Institute in Cambridge, in the US. In 2007 she joined A*STAR’s Institute of Medical Biology to study stem cell differentiation. In 2018 she transitioned to A*STAR’s Skin Research Institute of Singapore and then to A*STAR’s Skin Research Labs where her lab focuses on understanding how the behavior of cells within human skin is controlled and how this is affected in the context of aging and disease. Her recent work has uncovered new roles for a family of metabolites called polyamines in controlling cellular behavior during wound healing and tissue repair. Research in the Vardy lab is focused on understanding the biology behind skin pathologies, including tissue repair, with the goal of developing new treatments and diagnostics for clinical application.


Professor Anthony (Tony) Weiss AM PhD FTSE FRSN FRSC FRACI CChem FAIMBE FNAI FBSE FTERM, University of Sydney, Australia

Professor Weiss is the McCaughey Chair in Biochemistry, NHMRC Senior Leadership Fellow, and Professor of Biochemistry & Molecular Biotechnology. He leads Tissue Engineering & Regenerative Medicine in the Charles Perkins Centre at the University of Sydney.

Awards include Prime Minister’s Prize for Innovation, Premier’s Prize for Science & Engineering Leadership in Innovation, Australian Academy of Technology & Engineering’s Clunies Ross Medal, Eureka Prize for Innovation in Medical Research, Royal Australian Chemical Institute Weickhardt Medal, Royal Australian Chemical Institute Applied Research Medal, Vice Chancellor’s Award for Excellence, Australasian Society for Biomaterials & Tissue Engineering’s Award for Research Excellence, Innovator of Influence Award, NIH Fogarty International Fellow, Fulbright Scholar, and the Order of Australia.

He founded the clinical stage company Elastagen Pty Ltd which was spun off from the University of Sydney to commercialise tropoelastin. Benefitting from a remarkable executive and board, Elastagen was acquired by AbbVie, one of the top biopharmaceutical companies, in one of the largest transactions completed in the Australian life science sector.

Invited Speakers

Associate Professor Christina Bursill, South Australian Health and Medical Research Institute, Australia

A/Prof Christina Bursill (BSc (Hons 1) PhD, Adelaide University; Postdoc, Oxford University, UK) is a leader in cardiovascular biology, with a national and emerging international profile for her expertise in the biology and mechanisms of atherosclerotic plaques and mechanisms of diabetes-impaired angiogenesis and wound healing. After a six-year postdoc at The University of Oxford, she returned to Australia to lead the Immunobiology Group at the Heart Research Institute as part of a National Heart Foundation Career Development Fellowship. In 2017 A/Prof Bursill moved to Adelaide where she is Co-director of the Vascular Research Centre at South Australian Health and Medical Research Institute (SAHMRI) and a National Heart Foundation (NHF) Lin Huddleston fellow. A/Prof Bursill is Chief Investigator on the Australian Research Council, Centre of Nanoscale Biophotonics (CNBP), a $23 million grant, where she leads the “Inside blood vessels theme”. As CIA she has received >$2 million in competitive research funding in the last 3 years including NHMRC Ideas, Diabetes Australia Millennium and National Heart Foundation Vanguard grants. A/Prof Bursill has published >95 papers, supervised >15 PhD students to completion and currently leads a research team of six people. A/Prof Bursill is a board member for the Australian Cardiovascular Alliance (ACvA), the International Atherosclerosis Society and is past-President of the Australian Atherosclerosis Society (AAS, 2017-2019).

Dr Rachael Moses, University of Melbourne, Australia

Dr Rachael Moses took up the position of Research Associate at the University of Melbourne in 2021 with Professor Alastair Sloan, where she heads up the lab in the Sloan/Moses group. Rae’s interests lie in natural compound pharmaceuticals for wound healing, in particular for chronic, non-healing wounds. Additionally, she has an interest in the 3Rs (reduction, replacement, refinement), focusing on developing a 3D organotypic chronic wound model for the assessment of novel wound healing therapies. She obtained her PhD at Cardiff University, in the UK, in the field of Tissue Engineering. Continuing from her PhD studies, Rae undertook postdoctoral research focusing on the elucidation of the underlying mechanisms of action by which novel epoxy-tigliane pharmaceuticals promote preferential wound healing responses, in collaboration with QBiotics Group and QIMR Berghofer, based in Australia. This research resulted in being included as an inventor on a worldwide patent for ‘Methods and Compositions for Wound Healing’, relating to the application of epoxy-tigliane compounds in the promotion of dermal wound healing and reduced scarring.

Dr Abbas Shafiee, University of Queensland, Australia

Dr Abbas Shafiee is a Senior Research Fellow at the Herston Biofabrication Institute (The Royal Brisbane and Women’s Hospital, MNHHS), and The University of Queensland. He has a demonstrated high performing research trajectory in the Regenerative Medicine and Bioengineering arena. His research impact has been demonstrated with 67 research papers in high standing, and high impact factor journals, including but not limited to Biomaterials, The Journal of Heart and Lung Transplantation, Bone Research, Stem Cells Translational Medicine, and Small.
In 2020, Dr Shafiee started a clinical research program to develop, implement, and evaluate the applications of 3D printing, stem cell therapies, and biofabrication technologies in burn patients. Using 3D printing and stem/progenitor cell delivery, he could develop new dressing to enhances physiological wound closure with reduced scarring. He is also part of a national program aiming to develop 3D bioprinting technology to treat skin wounds. Additionally, Dr Shafiee’s team has found new ways of generating skin organoids from human pluripotent stem cells. Reconstructing the appendage-bearing skin organoids in cultures could change the way skin diseases and wounds are studied and treated.
Dr Shafiee’s authority in the field has been acknowledged by invitations to serve as Guest Editor or on the Editorial Board of leading scientific journals. He is also passionate about training the next scientific generation and healthcare professionals, and has trained several PhD, MSc, MD, and undergraduate students.

Dr Andrew Stevenson, University of Western Australia

Dr. Andrew Stevenson is a Postdoc based at the Burn Injury Research Unit at the University of Western Australia, where he has a broad focus on burn injury and a specific interest in fibroblast biology. Completing his PhD on the epigenetics of scar fibroblasts in 2016, he has been involved in a multitude of projects based on reducing fibrosis and encouraging skin regeneration, including single cell RNA sequencing of keloid scar, developing a topical lysl-oxidase based inhibitor to treat scarring (now in phase II clinical trial), and more recently, in vivo 3D bioprinting. He has a keen interest in all forms of regenerative biology, as well as driving unique applications of new technology to existing problems in the field of wound healing and scarring, and was named AWTRS early to mid-career researcher of the year in 2021.

Dr Pia Winberg, Venus Shell Systems