Vaegan Seminar: Growing Human Lenses and Cataracts in the Lab: No Longer Science Fiction

Friday, 17 March, 2017 - 16:00


Dr Michael O'Conner from Western Sydney University will visit the School on Friday 17 March 2017 to give a lecture on "Growing Human Lenses and Cataracts in the Lab: No Longer Science Fiction". All students, colleagues and general staff more than welcome to attend this lecture commencing at 4pm.

Details are as follows:

Date: Friday 17 March 2017

Time: 4pm - 5pm

Location: School of Optometry and Vision Science, AOP Seminar Room, Level 2, Room 2.030, North Wing Rupert Myers Building, Gate 14 Barker Street, UNSW Sydney

Title of Presentation: "Growing Human Lenses and Cataracts in the Lab: No Longer Science Fiction"

Abstract: Pluripotent stem cells have the potential to make any cell type of the body. Until recently, harnessing this potential to generate functional human tissues for cell-based therapies or drug screening has been a distant hope mostly consigned to the realm of science fiction. However, for the lens of the eye, this has now changed. By mimicking aspects of embryonic development in the laboratory, my group is able to make tens-of-thousands of functional human micro-lenses for anti-cataract drug screening and toxicity assays. This world-first achievement represents a true paradigm shift in international cataract research. We now have a new and powerful tool to use in addressing the global problem of adult and child cataract – a growing problem that currently affects 100 million people and costs billions of dollars to treat each year.

Short Biography: Dr O’Connor uses human pluripotent cells to model eye diseases including cataract and macular degeneration. He received his PhD from the University of Sydney in 2005, and then undertook postdoctoral studies in Vancouver, Canada, before returning to Australia in 2010. In addition to academic research he has played lead roles in commercialisation of stem cell-related products. As President of the Australasian Society for Stem Cell Research he led a variety of public- and policy-related projects aimed at advancing the development of a responsible and effective stem cell industry in Australia.