Leadership and Organisation

reNEW CEO Professor Melissa Little

Professor Melissa Little (BSc (Hons), PhD, GAICD, FAAHMS, FAA) is the CEO and Executive Director of reNEW Copenhagen. Professor Melissa Little is the Chief Scientist and Theme Director of Cell Biology at the Murdoch Children’s Research Institute, Royal Children’s Hospital in Melbourne, Australia.

Professor Little also holds a position as Professor in the Faculty of Medicine, Dentistry and Health Sciences at the University of Melbourne. As an NHMRC Senior Principal Research Fellow, she also heads the Kidney Research Laboratory. She is the incoming President of the International Society for Stem Cell Research (ISSCR), having previously held the role of President of the Australasian Society for Stem Cell Research, Program Leader of Stem Cells Australia and the Chief Scientific Officer of the Australian Stem Cell Centre.

Internationally recognised for her work on kidney development and pioneering studies into potential regenerative therapies in the kidney, Professor Little’s approach to generating kidney organoids from human pluripotent stem cells has been adopted across the globe. It is being applied to disease modelling, drug screening, and renal replacement therapies.

As CEO, she is responsible for delivering on the Vision and Mission of reNEW on behalf of the Institution. She is also responsible for guiding and implementing the strategic plan, taking responsibility for oversight and the coordination of all activities across the consortium and externally representing the activity on behalf of all partners.

 

Professor Little's stem cell research illustrates the capacity for understanding to be applied to product development. Her work has been recognised by many awards, including the GlaxoSmithKline Award for Research Excellence (2005), an Eisenhower Fellowship (2006), a Boerhaave Professorship (2015), an Honorary Doctorate at Leiden University (2019), the Eureka Prize (2016), the Alfred Newton Richards Award from the International Society for Nephrology (2018) for her kidney organoid research, the Julian Wells Medal (2020) for her contribution to understanding of genetic basis of kidney development and the Homer W. Smith Award (2021) for her outstanding contributions that fundamentally affect the science of nephrology.

She is a Fellow of the Australian Academy of Science and the Australian Academy of Health and Medical Sciences and is on the editorial board of the Cell Stem Cell, Nature Reviews Nephrology, Journal of the American Society for Nephrology, Development, Kidney International and Developmental Biology.

Recent awards

2021 Homer Smith Award, American Society for Nephrology

2020 Julian Wells Medal

2019  Alfred Richards Newton Award, International Society for Nephrology

2019 Doctor Honoris Causa, Leiden University

2018 NHMRC Elizabeth Blackburn Fellowship Biomedical

2018 NHMRC Top Research Fellowship

2017 UQ Alumnus of the Year

2017 Fellow, Australian Academy of Science

2016  Fellow, Australian Academy of Health and Medical Sciences

2016 Eureka Prize

 


reNEW Copenhagen Deputy Director Professor Kim Bak Jensen

Professor Kim Bak Jensen received his PhD in molecular biology from the University of Aarhus in 2003. Here he developed an improved method for the analysis of the cell surface composition based on recombinant antibody technology.

In 2003 he joined Professor Fiona Watt’s group at the London Research Institute at Cancer Research UK, as a post-doctoral fellow. Using cutting edge technology and through the analysis of mouse models, he went on to identify LRIG1, a negative regulator of receptor tyrosine kinases, as a novel marker of both human and mouse epidermal stem cells. Since starting his own lab, research has focused on mechanisms that regulate stem cell fate during development, homeostasis, regeneration, and disease.

Research in the Jensen Lab currently aims to provide an increased understanding of the gene regulatory networks that control stem cell fate, using the intestinal epithelium and the skin epidermis as model systems. By combining studies using mouse models and clinical specimens, the long-term aim of the research in the Jensen Lab is to translate results from in vitro and in vivo models into regenerative therapies.

 

Professor Kim Jensen is a recipient of a number of awards including a Carlsberg and a CRUK postdoctoral fellowships, a Wellcome Trust Career Development Fellowship, an MRC non-clinical fellowship, a Lundbeck Foundation fellowship and the ERC consolidator award. In addition, he is the recipient of the European Society for Dermatological Research Gold medal, EMBO Young Investigator, and serves on a number of scientific advisor boards.