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Friday, 6 February 2015

IVF pioneer gets back to his roots

IVF pioneer Professor Alan Trounson has returned to Australia to re-join the research institute he founded with Professor David de Kretser, now known as the MIMR-PHI Institute. 

Professor Trounson is a world-leading stem cell scientist best known for the successful development of human IVF with Professor Carl Wood in 1977. Their work made major contributions to the understanding of genes regulating early development to improved methods of conception, identification of genetic mutations in embryos as a new diagnostic technique known as pre-implantation genetic diagnosis, the use of a fertility drug to induce multiple ova and the freezing of embryos for future use. These procedures have enabled more than five million women worldwide to conceive successfully through IVF and related technologies.

In 1985 Monash University appointed Professor Trounson to a Personal Chair in Paediatrics and Obstetrics and Gynaecology and the Directorship of the Centre for Early Human Development. Under his guidance, the Centre grew from 12 scientists to around 80 in 1990. Professor Trounson merged his research Centre with the research of David de Kretser’s male reproductive physiology group in 1991 to form the Monash Institute of Reproduction and Development.

Now called the MIMR-PHI Institute, the organisation has become one of Melbourne’s top medical research Institutes and grown to more than 400 leading scientists and students with a broadened focus on diseases across the whole lifespan.

In his new role as Distinguished Scientist of the MIMR-PHI Institute, Professor Trounson will mentor the development of an active research program in the area of translational cell therapy research. He intends to participate in the development of the Cell Therapy and Regenerative Medicine, as this translational platform becomes established in the new, Federally-funded, $84million Translational Research Facility currently being constructed on the site.

He returns to the Institute from the $3billion California Institute for Regenerative Medicine (CIRM) where he spent the last 6.5 years driving stem cell research and translation studies. He joined CIRM after serving as Professor of Stem Cell Sciences, Founding Director of the Monash Immunology and Stem Cell Laboratories at Monash University and was the Founder of the Australian Stem Cell Centre.

Professor Trounson is an Emeritus Professor and Doctor of Laws at Monash University and, Fellow of the Academy of Technological Sciences and Engineering. He serves on several Australian and Californian company boards and his present research interests are in immune-cell therapies for cancer and infection.

Along with his colleagues, Professor Trounson also confirmed the discovery of human embryonic stem cells in 2000 and showed that fully functional nerve and other types of progenitor cells could be derived from these cells, which led to a dramatic increase in interest in the potential of pluripotent stem cells to treat a range of previously incurable diseases.

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