Dr Roland Shu is a Principal Scientist at Cartherics. He joined the team in 2016 from Monash University where he previously worked on neural stem cell biology and Multiple Sclerosis therapy. At Cartherics, Roland focuses on designing molecular constructs, CRISPR gene editing and autologous cell product manufacturing. His long-term goal is to make Australia’s first CRISPR-Cas9 gene-modified CAR-T cells for cancer patients. He sees such products as ‘living drugs’.
Originally from China, Roland studied Biotechnology at Wuhan University where he received his Bachelor degree. He completed his PhD in molecular genetics at the Institute of Health Sciences of China’s Academy of Sciences and Shanghai Jiao Tong University. Before moving to Australia, Roland worked as a researcher for three years at GlaxoSmithKline’s Shanghai R&D centre.
Dr Nhu-Y Nguyen is a Research Fellow and Laboratory Manager at Cartherics. She received her PhD in 2011 from the University of Melbourne, focusing on the effects of targeting different signalling pathways involved in hematopoiesis. Following her PhD, Nhu-Y conducted her postdoctoral training at Monash University’s Australian Centre for Blood Diseases. There she devised a novel xenograft model for assessing new combination therapies for Acute Myeloid Leukaemia.
As a Laboratory Manager at Cartherics, Nhu-Y handles the day-to-day running of the Science Team. As a Research Fellow, she drives in vivo studies. She enjoys working with a team of like-minded and passionate individuals ‘who are as equally committed as I am to developing potential new cures for cancer’.
Dr Walid Azar is the newly appointed Chief Translation Officer heading the Translation Team at Cartherics. He holds extensive experience from a diverse scientific background, encompassing both academic research and the fast-paced biotechnology industry.
After achieving his PhD in cancer biology at the Murdoch Children’s Research Institute through the University of Melbourne, Walid pursued a postdoctoral fellowship at the Peter MacCallum Cancer Centre, under the supervision of Professor David Bowtell, where he led a NHMRC-funded project investigating the role of interleukin 6 (IL-6) in ovarian clear cell cancer. Walid’s research made a significant contribution towards the understanding of IL-6 signalling in ovarian clear cell cancer and identified potential therapeutic agents that could synergise with IL-6 pathway inhibition.
In 2016, Walid joined CSL R&D at the BIO21 Institute where he was responsible for providing molecular biology and genome editing support to the CSL R&D recombinant protein and gene therapy portfolio. Furthermore, he was responsible for successfully steering a new research project proposal through stage gate decisions to product development, with the possibility of clinical development.
Walid plays a major role in prioritising for development, discovery projects from the Cartherics research program and/ or from external collaborators, such as academic groups, private companies or medical institutes. His team’s role is to undertake the appropriate comprehensive preclinical studies, involving in vitro and animal functional models, to enable the clinical translation of the product for cancer therapy.
Dr Vera Evtimov is Cartherics’ Project Manager. After obtaining a Bachelor of Biotechnology (Hons) Vera continued her studies attaining a PhD at Monash University in the department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology.
Vera first joined Cartherics as a Post-doctoral Research Fellow where her research focused on the production and characterisation of autologous CAR-T cell products. As Project Manager, Vera works closely with the scientific teams in planning, overseeing and leading the project through the research and development process.
Vera is passionate about improving the clinical outcomes of individuals diagnosed with debilitating diseases.
Dr Nick Boyd is a Biomaterials Engineer with a PhD and over 10 years experience specialising in tissue engineering, biological device R&D, regenerative medicine and nanotechnology. At Cartherics Nick focuses on generating an ‘off-the-shelf’ on-demand immunotherapy via stem cell sources.
With a deep background in immunology, stem cell differentiation and CAR-T cells, Nick helps drive the development and translation to the clinic of a novel natural killer (NK) cell-based immunotherapy derived from induced pluripotent stem cells. The work enables Nick to blend his passions for IP, entrepreneurship, business and laboratory research. Nick sees an exciting future for Cartherics and considers himself lucky to be part of the team investigating the impact their next-generation cellular therapies will have on patients suffering with ovarian cancer.
Dr Frederico Calhabeu has over 12 years research experience in the fields of stem cell biology and regenerative medicine, with a focus on the activation and self-renewal of adult stem cells in tissue injury and repair. Frederico was awarded his PhD in Cellular and Molecular Physiopathology at the Université Pierre et Marie Curie (Paris, France). He has held research positions at King’s College (London, England) as well as the Australian Regenerative Medicine Institute (Melbourne, Australia), where he gained extensive experience in primary cell culture, molecular biology and fluorescence microscopy. More recently, he took a particular interest in developing and helping translate innovative stem cell therapy projects to treat common muscle disorders.
In his role at Cartherics, Frederico is working on developing and bringing off-the-shelf NK cell therapies to cancer patients. Aside his passion for biomedical science, Frederico is passionate about football (the real one) and is a very much people person and always up for a chat.
Polly is a Senior Research Fellow who recently joined the Cartherics team with over 10 year’s experience with induced pluripotent stem cells (iPSCs). She completed her PhD at Monash University in cellular reprogramming in 2010 and then moved to London for her postdoctoral training. In her first position in the labs of Professors Amit Nathwani and Pete Coffey at UCL Cancer Institute, Polly developed protocols for generating clinical grade human iPSCs for the treatment of age related macular degeneration. In this position she also co-supervised a PhD student project aimed at differentiating human iPS cells into NK cells. In her second post doc, Polly worked in Professor Dean Nizetic’s lab at the Blizard Institute, Queen Mary University of London to develop human iPSC models of Down Syndrome. She initiated and established a cerebral organoid stream of research within Dean’s lab, which led to the group discovering key aetiology in the pathogenesis of Alzheimer’s disease in Down Syndrome. After returning home to Melbourne, she joined Crux Biolabs as a Senior iPSC research scientist and continued research on the mechanisms of rejuvenation during iPSC reprogramming.
Since Shinya Yamanaka’s first report on the discovery of iPSCs, Polly was and still is excited at the immense potential of iPSCs in the clinic. She is thrilled to be starting with the Cartherics Research Team to help realise the goal of using iPSC technology for immunotherapies.
Dr Madeline Cao received her MD in 2010 and practiced in Hematology at the Institute of Hematology & Blood Diseases Hospital in Tianjin, China. She then moved to Australia to expand her research interests on hematopoiesis, receiving her PhD degree in 2014 from the University of Melbourne. Afterwards, Madeline joined CSIRO as a postdoctoral Research Fellow in Professor Susie Nilsson’s group, working on a project to better understand the hematopoietic stem cell and its niche in order to identify important adhesive molecules and their roles in stem cell regulation. She joined Cartherics in 2019 as a Research Fellow where she works with IPSC-CAR-T/NK products that have great potential to kill tumor cells.
After several years investigating normal and malignant hematopoietic stem cells, Madeline has developed strong expertise in stem cell biology and has a huge passion for utilising stem cells to develop innovative therapeutic strategies to help patients fight cancer.
Deputy Laboratory Manager & Senior Research Officer
Senior Research Officer Maree Hammett has been with Cartherics since it was established in 2016 and helped set up the laboratories. She brings over a decade of experience in the university and industry sectors, developed after completing a Masters degree in immunology with Professor Tony Schwarer at Monash University and the Bone Marrow Transplant Unit at the Alfred Hospital.
At Cartherics, Maree works primarily with the autologous CAR-T team, testing & growing the different CARs and the development of the Method of Manufacture for clinical trials. Drawn to cancer research because her grandfather experienced Chronic Lymphoblastic Leukaemia, Maree seeks to boost the understanding of cancer detection, treatment and, hopefully, patient survival.
Kellie Cartledge is a Senior Research Officer at Cartherics. She joined the team in 2016. After completing her BSc in Biochemistry at Latrobe University then Honours in Biochemistry at the Australian National University, she worked at the Ludwig Institute of Cancer Research in the Molecular Biology Laboratory. Kellie then completed her MSc in Biopharmaceuticals at the University of New South Wales whilst working at CSIRO firstly in Health Science and then later in the Manufacturing Division. She was drawn to biological research as it is always evolving.
At Cartherics Kellie uses her expertise in cell culture, stem cell biology, T-cell biology and molecular biology in a range of projects, including the iPSC to T-cell and NK-cell projects. She finds the work challenging and at the cutting edge of immunology. “What we do will help people and society,” she says.
Anne brings extensive experience in a broad range of technical skills – designing and conducting experiments, tissue culture, flow cytometry, animal handling, managing ethics applications and generally running a lab, all gained during her 15 years as Senior Research Assistant in the Prostate Cancer Research Group within the Department of Surgery (Royal Melbourne Hospital) at the University of Melbourne, and Victorian Comprehensive Cancer Centre within the Biomedical precinct in Parkville.
Anne will initially learn key new skills relevant to maintaining iPSC and their differentiation into iNK cells. As a Senior Research Officer, Anne will work primarily with all members of the Cartherics Research Team and interface with the Cartherics Translation and Development Teams as required.
Anne completed her Bachelor of Science degree with Honours in 2001 at the University of Queensland, investigating the response of mouse embryonic stem cell growth in the presence of insulin, insulin like growth factors and growth hormone.
Anne is excited to be back at the research bench working within a highly dedicated team focused on developing a better targeted cellular immunotherapy for cancer patients.
Vingo Zhuang has been a Research Officer at Cartherics since the company was established in 2016. He is originally from Shenzhen in Southern China. Vingo graduated in 2000 from the Sun Yat-sen University School of Medicine in Guangzhou. In 2002 he moved to Melbourne in order to pursue his Masters at Monash University. Prior to joining Cartherics, Vingo worked at Monash University with Professor Sharon Ricardo in kidney research.
At Cartherics, Vingo’s main role until recently was to build CAR-T constructions and generate CAR-T viruses to infect T cells and produce early-stage CAR-T cells. He now produces the cells using CRISPR-Cas9.
Mat Tiedemann is a Research Officer within Cartherics’ Manufacturing and Development & Research teams. Mat is also undertaking a part-time PhD investigating differentiation of induced pluripotent stem cells (iPSCs) towards therapeutic cell types of the immune system. His work builds on expertise in gene editing and iPSC culture he developed as an undergraduate Research Assistant in Professor Jose Polo’s laboratory at the Australian Regenerative Medicine Institute.
Currently, Mat is involved in a number of projects, including gene editing of iPSCs using Cartherics’ Chimeric Antigen Receptor (CAR) construct, and the differentiation of resulting CAR-iPSCs throughout the hematopoietic lineage. The work is challenging because each cell line is unique, but Mat says the satisfaction gained by their successful differentiation is unparalleled.
Sandra joined Cartherics in 2021 as a Research Assistant with the Translation Team. Having completed her Biomedical Science Degree at the University of Melbourne, she subsequently undertook her Honours year at the Murdoch Children’s Research Institute, through the University of Melbourne, under the supervision of Professor George Werther and Dr. Vincenzo Russo. Her research project investigated the molecular mechanism driving neuroblastoma, a paediatric solid tumour with poor advanced-stage prognostic outcomes. She worked as a Research Assistant for over 4 years to further expand her knowledge in cancer molecular biology.
Her role at Cartherics will build upon her skills in miRNA, RNA, DNA and protein analysis, and mammalian cell culture techniques. She will be working closely with induced pluripotent stem cell (iPSC) derived Chimeric Antigen Receptor engineered Natural Killer cells (CAR NK cells) for pre-clinical in vitro and in vivo studies.
Sandra is thrilled to be working in such an exciting field and within a highly dedicated team focused towards developing targeted immunotherapy for cancer patients.
Elizabeth (Liz) Aliotta Joined Cartherics as a Research Assistant in the Development and Manufacturing Team in late 2021 after completing her Honours year with Cartherics in 2021.
Liz completed her Bachelor of Biomedical Science Degree in 2020 at Monash University, where she took every opportunity to nurture her research skills and where her passion for research and immunology was truly ignited.
Liz went on to complete her Honours year at Cartherics where she investigated optimising NK cell immunotherapy by targeting the adenosine signalling pathway and was awarded the Hudson Institute Lois Salamonsen Award for 2021 for her thesis.
Liz’ role at Cartherics allows her to build upon skills learnt throughout her undergraduate studies and honours year and apply them to the manufacture of iPSC derived immunotherapy.
Liz is excited to be working with an enthusiastic and growing team dedicated to the development and manufacture of immunotherapy to treat patients with cancer.
Nick completed his Bachelor of Medical Sciences, majoring in Biomedical Science in 2019 at Western Sydney University. Following that, he gained experience within TGA/GMP regulated manufacturing, working as a Production Technician at a pharmaceutical company which involved aseptic compounding of chemotherapeutic products within a highly regulated “cleanroom”.
Nick then worked as a Production Operator for the Cells & Genes therapy department at Cell Therapies Pty Ltd. His role involved mainly the GMP manufacturing of CAR-T cell therapies for the treatment of B-cell acute lymphoblastic leukaemia. Within this position he gained important skills in ex vivo processing of patient leukapheresis, which involved T cell enrichment and activation, vector transduction, followed by cell expansion in static cultures and in bioreactors, cell harvesting, formulation and cryopreservation.
Nick’s role as a Research Assistant at Cartherics includes: differentiation of iNK cells from iPSC and assistance in maintenance and provision of various cell lines including IPSC cell lines for in vivo and in vitro experiments.
Francelle Attard joined Cartherics in early 2022 as a Research Technical Assistant within the Translation Team. She completed her Bachelor Degree in Animal and Veterinary Bioscience in 2016 at La Trobe University. Following this, she then worked and gained experience as an Animal Technician at Monash University (MARP) as well as juggling an Animal Technical Assistant position at the Murdoch Children’s Research Institute (MCRI). Francelle has a passion for working with animals and brings extensive expertise and experience to support the preclinical in vivo studies.
Francelle is eager to help contribute to developing immunotherapies strategies through iPSC technologies to make a difference for patients suffering ovarian cancer.