Professor Larry Chamley, Director
Professor Larry Chamley is a reproductive immunologist/biologist and works mainly on the physiology of normal human pregnancies and diseases of pregnancy, especially preeclampsia. His major focus is, dissecting the role of placental extracellular vesicles in regulating the amazing adaptations of the maternal cardiovascular and immune systems to pregnancy. During pregnancy mum increases her blood volume 50% and her pulse rate and stroke volume both increase by 10-15% resulting in a massively increased cardiac output. This should result in hypertension but in normal pregnancy the small blood vessels around mums’ body relax to compensate. In fact this relaxation is so great that, despite the increased cardiac output and blood volume, mums’ blood pressure actually drops. We don’t know exactly what controls these adaptations but there is growing evidence that placenta extracellular vesicles are part of the system the fetus uses to induce the maternal adaptations.
Professor Eileen Mclaughlin, Governance Group
Professor Eileen Mclaughlin graduated from The University of Bristol UK in 1994 with a PhD in assisted reproduction and reproductive cryobiology, after which she was awarded a Wellcome Trust Fellowship in reproductive biology to work on the development of human male contraceptive targets at the School of Biochemistry. She was awarded a post-doctoral fellowship to expand her work to female virally vectored immunocontraceptives in wildlife feral animal control with CSIRO and the Invasive Animal CRC in Canberra. In 2002, she obtained a lectureship at the University of Newcastle NSW, where she established a highly productive lab working on ovarian follicular development, female and male germ cell development and the effects of reproductive toxicants in multigenerational fertility.She was awarded a personal chair in Reproductive Biology in 2010 and appointed interim Pro Vice Chancellor of the Faculty of Science and IT in 2014. Currently i am the Director of the School of Biological Sciences at the University of Auckland and a co-appointee professor in biological sciences at Newcastle. She has received research based awards from the British Fertility Society, Fertility Society of Australia and the Society for Reproductive Biology. In 2013, she was awarded the Brian Setchell Medal by the British Andrology Society for contributions to Andrology and am the 2018 inaugural recipient of the Society for Reproductive Biology Founders Medal and Oration. She has a strong commitment to the support of reproductive and developmental biology as past chair of the British Andrology Society and past president of the Society for Reproductive Biology. She has also served as a member of the ARC College of Experts and am currently chair and panel member of scientific advisory committees for ARC, NHMRC and the Irish Research Council. She is the University of Auckland lead for the newly established national NZ Advanced Genomics Platform “Genomics Aotearoa”.
Dr Cherie Blenkiron, Associate Director
Dr Cherie Blenkiron is a Senior Research Fellow at the University of Auckland whose primary research centers around the identification and application of biomarkers for cancer using genomic technologies. To date, her work on extracellular vesicles has stepped away from this focus to collaborate with researchers across the University on pathogenic bacteria, critical illness and placenta (see Governance Group Members Swift, Phillips and Chamley for details).
Professor Andrew Hill, Governance Group
Professor Andy Hill is the Director of the La Trobe Institute of Molecular Sciences (LIMS) at La Trobe University in Melbourne, Australia, and heads a laboratory studying the role of extracellular vesicles (EVs) in neurodegenerative diseases. His laboratory was one of the first to use next generation sequencing to analyse the RNA content of EVs and is now using these approaches to analyse the role of RNA in EVs and their potential use as biomarkers for a number of diseases. He has been a member of the executive committee of the International Society of Extracellular Vesicles (ISEV) since 2012 and was elected President in 2016, and again in 2018. In October 2017, he led the establishment of the La Trobe University Research Centre for Extracellular Vesicles (RCEV) and is the inaugural Director.
Associate Professor Simon Swift, Governance Group
Bacteria produce membrane vesicles, but what do they do? Associate Professor Simon Swift’s main interest is in the area of cell-to-cell communications and interactions, and the role of vesicles in the delivery of molecular cargoes to other bacteria and to eukaryotic cells. The questions we ask include: i) are vesicles being produced; ii) can purified vesicles be isolated; iii) what is the molecular cargo of the vesicle; iv) are the vesicles and/or their contents transferred to other bacteria or eukaryotic cells; v) what do the vesicles and/or their contents do to target cells; and vi) what are the molecular mechanisms involved?
Dr Colin Hisey, Postdoctoral Research Fellow
Dr Colin Hisey received his Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees in Chemical Engineering from the University of Dayton and his PhD in Biomedical Engineering from The Ohio State University in the United States. During his PhD he specialized in microdevice fabrication, mostly focusing on microfluidic liquid biopsy devices to isolate circulating tumor cells and exosomes. During his time at HEVI, he hopes to continue exploring the role of extracellular vesicles in metastasis and their potential in medical applications, as well as expand his research to develop a better understanding of their role in other fields of biology.
Associate Professor Anthony Phillips, Governance Group
My interest in extracellular vesicles covers two themes. The first is their role in “Cross-Kingdom” communication. In particular we have been interested in exploring the role of the vesicles as a vehicle for transferring a cargo of bioactive messages from bacteria to human tissues during an infection process. My second area of interest is more recent and specific. It is focussed on determining if vesicles found in intestinal lymphatic fluid have any contribution to the pathogenesis of acute critical illness in the clinical setting. My research in vesicles is heavily cross-disciplinary and reliant on my collaborations with fellow HEVI foundation members, Simon Swift, Cherie Blenkiron and Jiwon Hong.
Vanessa Chang, Organiser/Technician
Vanessa is now in her final stages of her PhD at the University of Auckland focusing on the Characterisation of Mycobacterial Membrane Vesicles. She is supervised by Professor Simon Swift and her studies were funded by the University of Auckland doctoral scholarship. During her PhD she has optimised EV isolation and purification methods and other technical aspects of EV research. At the HEVI, Vanessa is responsible for all the organisational and administrative tasks and will be happy to answer any questions you may have. She is also available for any technical help required.