Mater Researchers celebrate ARC Discovery Grants in Developmental Biology

Thursday 19 November 2020

Mater Researchers had plenty to celebrate this week, securing more than $1 million in national funding from the Australian Research Council (ARC) across two fundamental research streams

Professor David Hume, Dr Katharine Irvine and their team of international collaborators have been awarded $564 601 for their research into Macrophage control of mammalian growth and development.

The project aims to investigate how naturally occurring immune system cells—called ‘macrophages’—control body growth and development of mature organ functions in the early postnatal period.  This builds upon new investment in preclinical models and knowledge gains to challenge current concepts around growth control in mammals.  

“This is basic science research, but it has clear implications for understanding the lifelong health impacts of low birth weight and prematurity in human infants,” Professor Hume said.

Dr Sandy Richardson and her team also gained vital funding to investigate Mobile DNA activity in the mammalian primordial germline and will benefit from ARC Discovery funding of $466 508.

In early pregnancy, only a handful of cells in an embryo are specified as primordial germ cells (PGCs), which will eventually become sperm or egg cells. This project aims to uncover how mobile DNA sequences— “jumping genes” that copy and paste themselves throughout an organism’s DNA—become active in PGCs to create heritable genetic mutations. It will also examine how this activity is controlled to protect genome stability through generations.

“This fundamental research investigates the forces driving mammalian genetic diversity and genome evolution and has the potential to inform our understanding of human genetic disease and reproductive health,” said Dr Richardson.