Professor Melissa H. Little

Professor Melissa H. Little is an NHMRC Senior Principal Research Fellow and Head of the Genomics of Development and Disease Division, at the Institute for Molecular Bioscience, University of Queensland. She leads the IMB Kidney Research Laboratory where her research interests are in the molecular genetics of kidney development and the causes of renal disease with the aim of developing stem cell technology for use in kidney regeneration. She has been a pioneer in cross-disciplinary research between molecular development, experimental nephrology and stem cell biology.

Professor Little has continuously held competitive fellowships for more than 20 years, including Royal Society Endeavour, RD Wright, Sylvia and Charles Viertel and Eisenhower Fellowships. A Graduate of the Australian Institute for Company Directors, she established Nephrogenix Pty Ltd in 2001, she was a founding scientist of the Renal Regeneration Consortium and held the position of Chief Scientific Officer of the Australian Stem Cell Centre from 2007-2008. She is currently a member of the NHMRC Research Committee and Deputy Head of the Molecular Genetics Division of the Institute for Molecular Bioscience, where she heads the Renal Development, Disease and Regeneration laboratory. Throughout her career, Professor Little's achievements have been recognised as the recipient of awards such as the GlaxoSmithKline Award for Research Excellence (2005) the Australian Academy of Sciences Gottschalk Medal in Medical Sciences (2004) and a prestigious Eisenhower Fellowship, which recognises her contribution to both the commercial and academic sectors. Her contributions to Australian science have included membership of the Wills Review, the development of national research priorities for the Australian Government and she is currently a member of the McKeon Strategic Research of Health and Medical Research.

Professor Little has a long history in the field of kidney developmental biology, having associated mutations in the WT1 gene with Denys Drash syndrome and sporadic Wilms’ tumour, and is a pioneer in the field of renal stem cell biology and renal regeneration. She has published over 95 scientific journal articles including publications in high impact journals such as Science, Nature, Nature Cell Biology, Nature Genetics, Cell Stem Cell and Cell Developmental Cell, PNAS, Journal of Biological Chemistry, Journal of the American Society of Nephrology, Human Molecular Genetics and Oncogene. She has also published over 35 reviews/book chapters, has been cited in excess of 3800 times and has an h index of 36.

Within the Stem Cells Australia initiative, Professor Little leads research aimed at the differentiation of hESC to nephron progenitors. As a member of the NIH-funded GenitoUrinary Development Molecular Anatomy Project (GUDMAP), her laboratory contributed extensive data on gene expression patterns in the developing and adult kidney, lower urinary tract and reproductive systems. Currently, she has research support from the NHMRC, ARC, HFSP, European Union, European Commission 7th Framework Programme and NIH and is a member of the EU Stellar consortium on renal stem cells.
Professor Little's current projects include;
Understanding the regulation of kidney morphogenesis in order to improve renal development
(2013–2016) NHMRC Project Grant
Kidney mesenchymal stem cells in tubular development, repair and turnover
(2012–2017) NHMRC European Union Collaborative Research Grant
Stem-Cell Based Therapy for Kidney Repair
(2012–2017) European Commission 7th Framework Programme, Stellar Consortium
Directed differentiation of human embryonic stem cells to kidney progenitors
(2012–2015) NHMRC Project Grant
Kidney mesenchymal stem cells in tubular development, repair and turnover
(2012–2015) NHMRC Project Grant
Reprogramming to generate new nephron progenitors
(2012–2015) NHMRC Project Grant
Understanding self-organizing tissues
(2012–2015) ARC Discovery Project
Stem Cells Australia
(2011–2018) ARC Special Research Initiative
How to build a kidney: quantitative modeling of kidney morphogenesis across time and space
(2011–2014) Human Frontier Science Program Organisation Grant
GUDMAP - Database and Website
(2011–2015) National Institutes of Health Grant

To read more about current research projects in the laboratory click here.