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Alex Gadomski Fellowship recipient Dr Kirsten Fairfax leverages funding to expand research into Bone Marrow Failure Syndromes

It has been a great few months for Alex Gadomski Fellowship recipient, Dr Kirsten Fairfax. 

Dr Fairfax has successfully established the capacity to perform single cell sequencing at the University of Tasmania, facilitating projects in Tasmania that would not have previously been possible. Her team has so far been able to generate sequences of RNA from thousands of individual cells from the first seven volunteers who donated bone marrow, with millions more cells from hundreds more samples planned in the coming months to be run on this state-of-the-art platform. 

“Establishing the platform has only been possible due to the funding that Maddie Riewoldt’s Vision has awarded us, and recent funding awarded by the National Health and Medical Research Council,” Dr Fairfax says.

Dr Fairfax has been able to leverage the funding that the Gadomski family has raised in Tasmania to attract nationally competitive government grants, with over a million dollars of government grant funding awarded to the laboratory in the past six months. Dr Fairfax and Prof Hewitt are members of a team of researchers that were recently awarded a grant from the Medical Research Future Fund. This grant is led out of St Vincent’s Institute in Victoria, by Associate Professo Andrew Deans, and has a primary goal of making new gene therapies for bone marrow failure syndromes. The idea is to have both scientists and clinicians involved in the prioritisation and design of the gene therapies. 

By having patients ready who could benefit from any therapeutics that are generated in the course of the research, it will ensure that any technology that is generated can move rapidly and smoothly into the clinic. The team are using a new type of gene editing technology called CRISPR to correct inherited mutations that are found in Bone Marrow Failure Syndrome patients. The research proposed in the grant uses cell lines and mouse models to assess the efficacy and safety of the gene therapies.  

The increase in government grant funding, and the ongoing support from Maddie’s Vision has led to the expansion of the team that is researching into Bone Marrow Failure Syndromes. Prof Hewitt and Dr Fairfax are thrilled at the growth of the team. From just a single researcher dedicated to Bone Marrow Failure Syndromes research in 2019, the team is now recruiting a research assistant, and two additional PhD students, to add to the team which currently includes Ariel Simpson (the Alex Gadomski postgraduate fellow), a new honours student, Caitlin Bidwell (awarded the David Collins Fellowship), and terrific bioinformaticians Thomas Guinan and Dr Kristof Wing. 

With this incredible team on board, we are looking forward to a very productive 2023! Thank you to everyone who has supported the Alex Gadomski Fellowship to make this vital research happen.

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