Be Inspired / 26 April 2019

Alberto Roselló-Díez is right where he wants to be – at the frontier of science. The molecular biologist and Group Leader at the Australian Regenerative Medicine Institute (ARMI) is fuelled by a deep sense of curiosity; Alberto wants to understand the mysterious intelligence of limb and organ regeneration and how it can help humans.

“When a salamander regenerates a limb, it regenerates the missing part, not more or less,” explained Alberto. "When a flatworm is cut in half and generates two new worms, cells that used to be next to each other in the centre of the animal end up giving rise to completely opposite fates, namely head and tail. How does that happen?”

His ground-breaking research has been acknowledged by the Human Frontier Science Program (HFSP), an international program that is funding research to understand the complex mechanisms of living organisms. As part of their mission and as a credit to his cutting-edge thinking, HFSP has recognised Alberto by granting him a prestigious Career Development Award.

“HFSP tends to fund frontier science; I would not be in this position if it weren’t for their continued support and the backing of ARMI.”

“The award was for my project, Chasing Entelechy: cell interactions and collective behaviours underlying organ growth regulation,” said Alberto. “HFSP tends to fund frontier science; I would not be in this position if it weren’t for their continued support and the backing of ARMI.” ARMI supported Alberto in his application for this award with the opportunity to start his own research group (only Group Leaders are eligible to apply), and resources to hire a research assistant and a postdoctoral fellow to get his research underway. Unanswered questions form the basis of any scientific research and the Roselló-Díez Group at ARMI is no different. The group wants to understand how organs know how much they have to grow to reach and maintain species-specific body proportions, and how this collective outcome emerges from the combination of individual cell behaviours.

“Have you ever seen bird flocks or fish schools moving as if they were one single individual?” Alberto asked. “Something similar happens at the cellular scale in our developing organs, and we’re trying to determine whether it’s because a few leader cells direct the rest, or if it's the rapid spreading of information between neighbours.”

“I think our research could help with organ engineering...If we can figure out the important cues and where and when they need to happen, we could progress further down this fascinating road.”

The answers to these questions may change regenerative medicine as we know it. “I think our research could help with organ engineering,” predicts Alberto. “One of the many challenges is getting the size of the cultured organ, called an organoid, right. Even when using human cells, the organoid is often too small. If we can figure out the important cues and where and when they need to happen, we could progress further down this fascinating road.”

Congratulations Alberto on receiving this prestigious award!

 

More information

The Roselló-Díez group studies the signals that operate within the bones and between them and other tissues/organs during development and regeneration. For more information on Dr Alberto Roselló-Díez and his group at ARMI, please visit the Roselló-Díez Group page. You can contact Dr Alberto Roselló-Díez via alberto.rosellodiez@monash.edu or follow him on Twitter @RoselloDiez.