Finding cures for children's genetic diseases

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Our Team

 
Leszek.jpg Leszek Lisowski PhD, MBA, Group Leader, Translational Vectorology Group (TVG); Manager, Vector and Genome Engineering Facility (VGEF).​
Leszek [pronounced: Leshek] is a world vectorology expert with over 15 years of experience in developing and manufacturing viral vectors for human gene therapy. He 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 a doctorate program at Cornell University in New York. He earned his PhD in Molecular Biology and Genetics from the laboratory of Prof. Michel Sadelain, MD PhD 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 Prof. Mark A. Kay, MD PhD 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 (GT3). 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 was recruited by CMRI  to establish and run the Vector and Genome Engineering Facility (VGEF) and to establish his independent research program, the Translational Vectorology Group (TVG). In addition to being Group Leader at CMRI, Leszek is a conjoint Senior Lecturer at the University of Sydney and holds the title of Honorary Faculty at University College London (UCL), London, UK. In December 2016, Leszek was awarded the prestigious grant “Kosciuszko” from the Polish Department of Defence and was appointed the title of Visiting Group Leader at the Military Institute of Hygiene & Epidemiology (MIHE), Biological Threats Identification and Countermeasure Centre in Pulawy, Poland, where he established and heads the Department of Cell Transfection and Vectorology.

d: +61 2 8865 2818 | Skype: CMRI_VGEF
f: +61 2 8865 2801  | e:   llisowski@cmri.org.au
 

Current Members



 

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.

e: sginn@cmri.com.au
 


Predrag Kalajdzic, PhD, Research Officer
Predrag received his PhD in Molecular Biology and Biotechnology from University of Crete in Greece where he studied insecticide resistance molecular mechanisms using transposon (Minos) based tools for genome insertional mutagenesis. Following his PhD, he worked at the University of Belgrade (Serbia) before moving to Germany in 2013 for postdoctoral studies. As a postdoc at the Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Biology (Ploen), he started utilizing state of the art CRISPR/Cas technique for genome editing of various mammalian cell lines. In 2015, Predrag moved to the Justus Liebig University, Giessen, where he worked on genetic modification of insects for pest control strategy (specifically focusing on Drosophila suzukii and Aedes aegypti), continuing to utilize cutting-edge genome engineering technologies. Starting March 2017, Predrag joined CMRI’s Vector and Genome Engineering Facility (VGEF).

e: pkalajdzic@cmri.com.au

 


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.

e: sliao@cmri.com.au
 


Grober Baltazar Torres, BS, Research Assistant
Grober, born in Lima, Peru, relocated to San Francisco, California, where he attended City College of San Francisco. Subsequently he attended UC San Diego in La Jolla, California, where he became a member of the MARC and AMGEN Scholar Program, which led to an internship at UC Berkeley. Grober also did laboratory training in the Sanford Consortium for Regenerative Medicine in La Jolla. After receiving bachelor’s degree in Biochemistry and Cell Biology he returned to the San Francisco Bay Area and worked as a Research Assistant for Anacor Pharmaceuticals Inc. in Palo Alto. There he assisted in the evaluation of the effect of the company’s lead discovery compounds on cytokine induction in murine skin to treat skin inflammation associated with skin diseases such as psoriasis and atopic dermatitis. In 2016, he relocated to Sydney and joined CMRI as a Research Assistant in the Vector and Genome Engineering Facility (VGEF), where he is directly involved in VGEF’s genome engineering projects and development of novel gene editing technologies.

e: gbaltazar@cmri.org.au

 


 

Kimberley Dilworth, BS, Research Assistant
Kimberley obtained her undergraduate degree from the University of Sydney, graduating with honours in microbiology for studies of ectromelia virus induced cell motility. She joined VGEF in 2015, and is the expert in the design, production and purification of viral vectors based on adeno-associated virus and lentivirus.

e: kdilworth@cmri.com.au 

 


 

Arek Rybicki
After completing a master degree in 2010 in biochemistry in Nancy (France), I first started working in Luxembourg Institute of Health on a project focused on HIV entry in cells. Back in Luxembourg 2 years later after spending most of the time overseas discovering others cultures around the world. Finally, I had the opportunity to relocate in Sydney last year when I was enrolled in VGEF facility as a research assistant, preparing LV and AAV vectors for variant customers.

e: arybicki@cmri.org.au
 



 
Maddison Knight
Maddison earned her Bachelor of Science in Biochemistry and Molecular Biology from Western Sydney University in 2015. She then went on to complete a Master of Research in protein biochemistry where she investigated the molecular mechanisms of proteins involved in homologous recombination. After completing her studies, Maddison joined VGEF as a Research Assistant in 2018 where she utilises CRISPR gene editing technology to aid in the completion of genome engineering projects.

e: mknight@cmri.org.au