Healthier kids, brighter futures

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  • Marti Cabanes Creus, Leszek Lisowski, Jill Muhling
    Marti Cabanes Creus, Leszek Lisowski, Jill Muhling

Our People

Leszek.jpg Leszek Lisowski PhD, MBA, Group Leader/Lab Head
Leszek [pronounced: Leshek] was born in a small town in Western Poland.  After high school he received a prestigious Academic Excellence and Leadership Scholarship and enrolled at the University of Bridgeport, Bridgeport, CT, USA where he earned his B.S. in Biology. He subsequently joined doctorate program at Cornell University in New York and earned his PhD in Molecular Biology and Genetics from the laboratory of Dr. Michel Sadelain at the Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center (MSKCC), for his work on lentiviral vectors for the treatment of β-thalassemia and assessment of vector toxicity and the risk of insertional oncogenesis. He then joined the laboratory of Dr. Mark A. Kay at the Stanford University School of Medicine, where Leszek performed his postdoctoral training studying AAV vectors’ evolution via multispecies interbreeding and retargeting of rAAV. He was subsequently recruited by the Salk Institute for Biological Studies in La Jolla, CA where he ran the Gene Transfer, Targeting and Therapeutics Facility. While in La Jolla, he earned his MBA degree from UC San Diego Rady School of Management and co-founded LogicBio Therapeutics, a gene therapy company. In October 2015, Leszek relocated to Australia to join CMRI to establish and run the Vector and Genome Engineering Facility and to establish his independent research program, Translational Vectorology Group (TVG). In addition to being Group Leader at CMRI, Leszek is a conjoint Senior Lecturer at the University if Sydney and holds title of Honorary Faculty at UCL, London, UK.

Current Members
mart.jpg Marti Cabanes Creus, MS. Exchange PhD  Student
Marti was born and raised in Barcelona, Catalonia, and earned his bachelor’s degree in Biotechnology from the University Autonoma of Barcelona. Then he pursued and received a M.Sc in Applied Biotechnology from Uppsala University (Sweden). He completed his Master’s Thesis under the supervision of Dr. Lisowski in the Gene Transfer, Targeting and Therapeutics Core at the Salk Institute in La Jolla, California. He is currently the first PhD candidate participating in the newly formed CMRI-UCL Bridge Program and is working on a joint project between the group of Professor Adrian Thrasher (University College of London, Institute of Child Health, London, UK and Dr. Leszek Lisowski, CMRI.
  Wojciech Kuban, PhD, Postdoctoral Fellow
Dr Kuban earned a Master and Engineering Science in Plant Genetics Breeding & Biotechnology (2001) from the Warsaw University of Life Sciences, Poland for his work on a Molecular analysis of cucumber’s (Cucumis sativus L.) genes expressed during somatic embryogenesis. In 2001, Wojciech began work at Institute of Biochemistry and Biophysics, Warsaw. He earned his PhD in biochemistry from the Polish Academy of Science (2007), where he studied DNA polymerases and the DNA replication process. He was a postdoctoral fellow with Dr Roger Woodgate in the Laboratory of Genomic Integrity at the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development (NIH, Bethesda). Subsequently he became a Senior Research Fellow at Agency for Science, Technology and Research (A*STAR), Singapore. He then joined Van Andel Institute as a Research Scientist in 2015 to develop a high-throughput platform to study chemical modifications on DNA and histone with the ultimate goal of clinical testing and validation. In 2017, Wojciech joined Translational Vectorology Group (TVG) at CMRI led by Dr Leszek Lisowski where he uses AAV shuffling technologies to identify novel AAV variants capable of more efficient transduction of target cells in vitro and in vivo. As part of his project Wojciech develops novel vector-based delivery platforms for genome editing with clinical applicability
  Samantha Ginn, PhD, Senior Research Officer
Dr Samantha Ginn received her PhD in bacterial genetics from The University of Sydney and since then has been a researcher in the Gene Therapy Research Unit at The Children’s Hospital at Westmead and the Children’s Medical Research Institute (CMRI). Her research has focused on developing treatment strategies for diseases of the liver and haematopoietic system using viral gene transfer and genome editing technology and was involved in treating the first infant in Australia by gene therapy. She is the current Secretary of the Australasian Gene and Cell Therapy Society, conjoint Senior Lecturer at The University of Sydney, and sits on Institutional Committees for Animal Ethics, Grants Advisory, Early Career Researchers (ECRs) and Gender Equity. She received a Young Investigator Award from the Australasian Gene and Cell Therapy Society and has been invited to present her work at the British Society of Gene and Cell Therapy and European Society of Gene and Cell Therapy annual meetings. She recently joined Translational Vectorology Group (TVG) to help establish an AAV vector development program that aims to apply develop novel AAV selection platforms and apply those to identify novel clinical AAV candidates for liver targeted gene delivery.
  Sophia Liao, MS, Research Assistant
Sophia earned her B.Sc. and M.Sc. in Medical Science from the University of Auckland (New Zealand) and joined the Gene Therapy Research Unit at the Children’s Medical Research Institute as a research assistant at the end of her studies. Her work with the unit involved using viral vectors such as Lentivirus and Adeno-associated virus (AAV) to develop disease treatments for the liver and haematopoietic system. When she’s not doing science in the lab, she spends time making ceramic cups and plates on her potter’s wheel.
  Adrian Westhaus, BSc. Overseas Research Intern, MSc Student
Adrian, born in Mainz, Germany, completed a Bachelor of Science in Biology from the University of Bremen (Thesis in Dringen lab, Neurobiochemistry). Pursuing a future career in science, he enrolled in the master’s program in Molecular Bioscience and Major Infectious Disease at the University of Heidelberg. As part of this research-based MSc program, he performed research rotations in the laboratories of Prof. Martin Müller (German Cancer Research Centre, Heidelberg), Dr. Ann-Kristin Müller and Dr. Dirk Grimm (both University Hospital Heidelberg). The current internship in the Translational Vectorology Group (TVG) and the Gene Therapy Research Unit (GTRU) at CMRI will be his final rotation before completing his Master’s degree.

While at CMRI, Adrian works on an independent project the aim of which is to better understanding the role AAV capsid plays in AAV-mediated genome editing and to establish a testing platform to evaluate frequency of AAV-driven gene editing by homologous recombination.
  Elijah Lake, Honours Student, University of Sydney
Elijah Lake is an undergraduate student at the University of Sydney (B.AnVetBioSci) undertaking an Honours project with the Translational Vectorology Group. He has a passion for gene therapy and looks forwards to continue researching within the field upon completion of his Bachelor's degree.

As part of his Honours project, Elijah is vectorising novel AAV variants found in Australian marsupials and is evaluating the potential of those vectors as tools for human liver gene therapy.
  Kate Van Brussel, Honours Student, University of Sydney
Kate is currently undertaking a Bachelor of Animal and Veterinary Bioscience at The University of Sydney and completing an Honours research project with the Translational Vectorology Group. After the completion of B.AnVetBioSci, Kate plans to continue her career in biomedical research.

In her Honours project, Kate is studying the impact of AAV shuffling platform design and AAV genome on the functionality and feasibility of novel identified clinical AAV candidates.
  Jason Ward, BBiotech Honours Student, University of Newcastle
Jay earned his Bachelor’s degree in Biotechnology from the University of Newcastle and recently joined the Translational Vectorology Group (TVG) at CMRI as an Honours student. Prior to completing his Biotechnology degree Jay work in healthcare and has been a Registered Nurse for the past 12 years.

Jay has a general interest in the use of gene technology for the treatment of human disease.
His project is related to development of new AAV platform aiming at improving vector manufacturing.


Former Members
jill-(1).jpg Jill Muhling, PhD, Postdoctoral Fellow
Jill received her PhD in Virology from Murdoch University in Perth. A postdoc at the University of Western Australia focusing on the use of AAV in the mammalian eye led her to continue research in the gene therapy field. In 2011 Jill moved to the USA to continue working on gene therapy in the central nervous system, studying potential cell and molecular therapies for spinal cord injury at Stanford University. Following her postdoc she began work in the Stanford viral vector core facility in the department of Neurosurgery. In 2014, Jill was recruited to the University of Adelaide to set up and run a vector core within the Robinson Research Institute. Two years later Jill decided to return to research, accepting a position in CMRI’s Translational Vectorology Group (TVG) in 2016.