photo of Dr Jessica Vanslambrouck

Dr Jessica Vanslambrouck

Dr Jessica Vanslambrouck

Details

Role Senior Research Officer
Research area Stem cell biology

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Available for student supervision
Kidney disease is a significant health and economic burden worldwide, with the lack of viable treatment options and shortage of suitable donor organs contributing to the high mortality rate of the disease. Whilst a range of factors, such as prematurity and physical injury, can contribute to the onset of kidney disease, genetic causes are attributed to approximately 47% of diagnosed children. However, the exact causative gene is often unknown. From a physiological perspective, kidney disease is caused by a reduction in the number and/or functional capacity of nephrons, the filtration units of the kidney that are responsible for blood filtration, nutrient reabsorption and waste excretion. This damage is exacerbated by the limited self-repair capacity of the kidney, which lacks the populations of kidney stem cells (nephron progenitors) that give rise to these structures during embryonic development.

My research career to date has encompassed a broad range of kidney biology, including physiology, development, disease, and regeneration, with a strong focus on proximal tubule biology. During my Honours and PhD candidatures in the laboratory of Professor John Rasko, my research into the expression of renal amino acid transporters contributed to elucidating the complex mechanisms behind several inherited and developmental disorders of amino acid uptake, as well as recognising a potential correlation between transporter expression and kidney transplant rejection. Following a productive PhD candidature, my passion for regenerative medicine and its potential application to kidney disease led me to undertake a Postdoctoral research position in the laboratory of Professor Melissa Little, where I have since pioneered direct reprogramming to nephron progenitors, contributed to the first description of stem cell-derived ‘mini kidneys’ (kidney organoids), and driven the development of novel tools and 3D bioprinting approaches to improve kidney organoid growth, published in high-impact journals such as Nature Materials, Nature Cell Biology, JASN, and Kidney International.

My expertise in proximal tubule biology, underpinning many of these achievements, facilitated my development of ‘proximal tubule-enhanced’ kidney organoids that show improved maturity and striking nephron spatial arrangement not seen in other kidney organoid protocols. This development has since opened the door to funded collaborative projects using these organoids to model the renal implications of COVID-19 and better control the morphogenesis of bioengineered kidney tissue. Looking forward, I hope to build on the foundations I have established in this space to improving the functional maturity of stem cell-derived proximal tubules, addressing organoid limitations such as off-target cell type generation and restricted in vitro growth to create sustainable bioengineered kidney tissue applicable to therapeutic approaches such as bioartificial device development.
Kidney disease is a significant health and economic burden worldwide, with the lack of viable treatment options and shortage of suitable donor organs contributing to the high mortality rate of the disease. Whilst a range of factors, such as...
Kidney disease is a significant health and economic burden worldwide, with the lack of viable treatment options and shortage of suitable donor organs contributing to the high mortality rate of the disease. Whilst a range of factors, such as prematurity and physical injury, can contribute to the onset of kidney disease, genetic causes are attributed to approximately 47% of diagnosed children. However, the exact causative gene is often unknown. From a physiological perspective, kidney disease is caused by a reduction in the number and/or functional capacity of nephrons, the filtration units of the kidney that are responsible for blood filtration, nutrient reabsorption and waste excretion. This damage is exacerbated by the limited self-repair capacity of the kidney, which lacks the populations of kidney stem cells (nephron progenitors) that give rise to these structures during embryonic development.

My research career to date has encompassed a broad range of kidney biology, including physiology, development, disease, and regeneration, with a strong focus on proximal tubule biology. During my Honours and PhD candidatures in the laboratory of Professor John Rasko, my research into the expression of renal amino acid transporters contributed to elucidating the complex mechanisms behind several inherited and developmental disorders of amino acid uptake, as well as recognising a potential correlation between transporter expression and kidney transplant rejection. Following a productive PhD candidature, my passion for regenerative medicine and its potential application to kidney disease led me to undertake a Postdoctoral research position in the laboratory of Professor Melissa Little, where I have since pioneered direct reprogramming to nephron progenitors, contributed to the first description of stem cell-derived ‘mini kidneys’ (kidney organoids), and driven the development of novel tools and 3D bioprinting approaches to improve kidney organoid growth, published in high-impact journals such as Nature Materials, Nature Cell Biology, JASN, and Kidney International.

My expertise in proximal tubule biology, underpinning many of these achievements, facilitated my development of ‘proximal tubule-enhanced’ kidney organoids that show improved maturity and striking nephron spatial arrangement not seen in other kidney organoid protocols. This development has since opened the door to funded collaborative projects using these organoids to model the renal implications of COVID-19 and better control the morphogenesis of bioengineered kidney tissue. Looking forward, I hope to build on the foundations I have established in this space to improving the functional maturity of stem cell-derived proximal tubules, addressing organoid limitations such as off-target cell type generation and restricted in vitro growth to create sustainable bioengineered kidney tissue applicable to therapeutic approaches such as bioartificial device development.

Top Publications

  • Wilson, SB, Howden, SE, Vanslambrouck, JM, Dorison, A, Alquicira-Hernandez, J, Powell, JE, Little, MH. DevKidCC allows for robust classification and direct comparisons of kidney organoid datasets. Genome Medicine 14(1) : 19 2022
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  • Vanslambrouck, JM, Wilson, SB, Tan, KS, Groenewegen, E, Rudraraju, R, Neil, J, Lawlor, KT, Mah, S, Scurr, M, Howden, SE, et al. Enhanced metanephric specification to functional proximal tubule enables toxicity screening and infectious disease modelling in kidney organoids. 2021
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  • Little, MH, Howden, SE, Lawlor, KT, Vanslambrouck, JM. Determining lineage relationships in kidney development and disease. Nature Reviews Nephrology 18(1) : 8 -21 2021
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  • Wilson, SB, Howden, SE, Vanslambrouck, JM, Dorison, A, Alquicira-Hernandez, J, Powell, JE, Little, MH. DevKidCC allows for robust classification and direct comparisons of kidney organoid datasets. 2021
    view publication
  • Howden, SE, Wilson, SB, Groenewegen, E, Starks, L, Forbes, TA, Tan, KS, Vanslambrouck, JM, Holloway, EM, Chen, Y-H, Jain, S, et al. Plasticity of distal nephron epithelia from human kidney organoids enables the induction of ureteric tip and stalk. Cell Stem Cell 28(4) : 671 -684.e6 2020
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