Dr Sara Howden is a recognized leader in human reprogramming and genome engineering technologies. As a National Health and Medical Research Council postdoctoral fellow at the University of Wisconsin, working with Professor James Thomson, she established an improved episomal reprogramming system, enabling the efficient generation of iPSCs from human fibroblasts using xeno-free conditions. She has extensive experience with genome engineering technologies and was the first to report targeted gene repair in patient-specific iPSCs.
Sara has subsequently developed novel Cas9 variants for improved gene-editing outcomes and a one-step protocol that enables the rapid and efficient generation of gene-edited iPSC from human skin or blood. These methodologies have been adopted by many researchers in the international stem cell research community and are routinely applied within the MCRI Gene-editing Core Facility, which was established by her in 2017 and has generated hundreds of custom edited iPSC lines for researchers locally and internationally.
Sara has also generated a large variety of lineage-specific reporter lines, which has led to improved methods for the directed differentiation of iPSC-derived cell types and tissues. Many of these resources have been widely distributed and are publicly available through the facility.
“ Our state-of-the-art facility produces high quality, genetically engineered pluripotent stem cells for Australian researchers and have the potential to generate all of the different cell types that make up the human body. With support from other platforms available within the Phenomics Australia network, these powerful resources can be used in a vast range of applications, including human development, disease modeling and drug development studies.”
“Our team is also actively engaged in supporting the next generation of stem cell researchers by providing hands-on training to individuals or small groups onsite within our facility.”