Hepatocytes constitute ~80% of the liver and are responsible for many critical biological processes. Protocols aimed at generating human hepatocytes from pluripotent stem cells (PSC) are largely based on knowledge gained from mouse development, and generate functionally immature hepatocytes. This limits their uses for downstream applications, including as models for disease and drug toxicity. Utilising unique access to human fetal and adult liver tissue, we have identified gene regulatory networks which are involved in human liver specification and development, and targeted these pathways to generate a more mature adult phenotype. We are using these improved cells to model the aetiology of rare human diseases, such as ataxia–telangiectasia syndrome.



Dr Sarah Withey is a stem cell and developmental biologist. Following a BSc in Biological Sciences undergraduate degree from the University of Exeter, UK, she completed her PhD in 2015 in the lab of Prof. Neil Hanley at the University of Manchester, studying human fetal development to generate hepatocyte-like cells from pluripotent stem cells. During her 2015-2018 post-doctoral collaboration between the University of Nottingham and the University of Cambridge, she used pig embryos and human stem cells to model pre-implantation embryo development, with a focus on primordial germ cell specification. In 2018 she joined the lab of Prof. Wolvetang at UQ’s Australian Institute for Bioengineering and Nanotechnology. As well as investigating the molecular mechanisms underpinning the disparate lineage propensity of isogenic iPSCs, Sarah also continues to collaborate with the University of Manchester, utilising unique insights into human liver development to direct her differentiation of iPSCs towards hepatocytes. She is currently using patient-specific iPSCs to model various human liver diseases in order to identify potential therapeutic targets.

About Research Seminar Series

UQ School of Biomedical Sciences Research Seminar Series

The School of Biomedical Sciences (SBMS) Research Seminar Series presents seminars by international and national researchers, local researchers, and postdocs.

Unless otherwise indicated, seminars are held  3.00 PM AEST every second Friday  01-E109  - Forgan Smith Building, Learning Theatre.


Zoom link: https://uqz.zoom.us/j/97905751508