Finding cures for children's genetic diseases

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Our People

Leszek.jpg Leszek Lisowski PhD, MBA, Group Leader, Translational Vectorology Group (TVG).
Leszek [pronounced: Leshek] is a vectorology expert with over 15 years of experience in developing and manufacturing viral vectors for human gene therapy applications. 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, NY. 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 he 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 an MBA degree from UC San Diego Rady School of Management and co-founded LogicBio Therapeutics (NASDAQ: LOGC), 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 Professor 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 Translational Vectorology.

d: +61 2 8865 2818 | Skype: CMRI_VGEF
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Current Members

Marti Cabanes Creus, PhD, Research Officer
Marti was born and raised in Barcelona, Catalonia, and earned his bachelor’s degree in Biotechnology from the University Autonoma of Barcelona and earned a M.Sc in Applied Biotechnology from Uppsala University, Sweden. He completed his master’s thesis under the supervision of Dr Lisowski at the Gene Transfer, Targeting and Therapeutics (GT3) Facility at the Salk Institute for Biological Studies, La Jolla, CA, U.S. He subsequently enrolled in a PhD program at the University College London, U.K. and was the first PhD candidate participating in the newly formed CMRI-UCL Bridge Program, which gave him the opportunity to work on a joined project between the group of Professor Adrian Thrasher (Institute of Child Health, London, UK) and Dr Leszek Lisowski (CMRI). After earning his PhD in Gene Therapy he joined the team of Dr Lisowski as a Research Officer, developing novel AAV vectors and gene transfer technologies for improved targeting of human liver and other primary human tissues.


Julius W. Kim, PhD, Research Officer
Dr Kim is a translational research scientist in the field of anti-tumour therapy, with special interest in developing novel therapies for the treatment of glioblastoma multiforme (GBM). He has established expertise in neurobiology, immunology, cancer-biology, and genetic engineering. Before joining TVG he studied multiple GBM-translational approaches such as targeted oncolytic virotherapy, in vivo DC-targeted viral vector-mediated cancer vaccine therapy, antibody-based therapy, stem cell-based therapy and combinatorial checkpoint inhibitor-based therapy in the laboratory of Prof Maciej S. Lesniak at University of Chicago and Northwestern University, USA. His current research project explores combinatorial immunotherapies against brain tumours.


Matthieu Drouyer, PhD, Research Officer
Matthieu completed a master’s degree in Vectorology, Gene therapy and Vaccinology at Toulouse, France, in 2014. He earned his PhD in Molecular and Cellular Biology with a specialty in Neuroscience from University of Lille, France in 2018. He joined Vector and Genome Engineering Facility (VGEF) at CMRI at the end of 2018 to master the production of AAV vectors and he is now a current member of TVG.


Adrian Westhaus, MSc. Exchange PhD Student, University College London
Adrian completed a Bachelor of Science in Biology from the University of Bremen (Thesis in Dringen lab, Neurobiochemistry). Pursuing a future career in science, he enrolled in the master’s program in Molecular Bioscience and Major Infectious Disease at the University of Heidelberg. As part of this research-based MSc program, he performed several research rotations including the CMRI-laboratories of Prof Ian Alexander (GTRU) and Leszek Lisowski (TVG). After completing his master’s degree with a research project in the lab of Prof Dirk Grimm (University of Heidelberg), he chose to return to CMRI as part of the UCL-CMRI PhD Bridge Programme (see information for Students on the left). His main supervisor at the collaborating lab is Prof Adrian Thrasher the UCL Great Ormond Street Institute of Child Health, Section Molecular and Cellular Immunology.

His PhD project focusses on AAV capsid development, aiming to build a universal platform for diversification and selection of novel variants. Furthermore, he will investigate the expansion of novel AAV-mediated gene editing technologies into more clinically relevant models.


Patrick Wilmott, PhD Student, University of Sydney
Patrick completed a combined BA in International Studies (Major in Germany) and BS in Medical and Molecular Biosciences at the University of Technology Sydney (UTS). During his Honours project, which he undertook with Dr Lisowski at the CMRI, Patrick investigated and improved current platforms for the development of clinical AAV vectors. 



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 TVG/VGEF in 2015, and is the expert in the design, production and purification of viral vectors based on adeno-associated virus and lentivirus. She is now optimising production methods for large scale clinical AAV manufacturing.


Sophia Liao, MS, Senior 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. In 2018, Sophia joined TVG where she studies AAV vector biology and interactions between AAV and human liver.  When she’s not doing science in the lab, she spends time making ceramic cups and plates on her potter’s wheel.



Inna Navarro, BS, Research Assistant
Inna, born in the Philippines, completed her Bachelor of Biological Sciences at the University of Tsukuba, Japan where she worked with knockout mice models to study the ubiquitin-proteasome protein degradation system. She relocated to Australia and joined TVG in January 2019, working with a mouse model to develop and test AAV vectors.


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 was directly involved in VGEF’s genome engineering projects and development of novel gene editing technologies. In 2019, he joined TVG’s AAV Capsid Development Program where he works with Marti, Sophia and Inna on the next generation of AAV vectors for clinical applications.



Former Members

Arkadiusz Rybicki, MS, Research Assistant
Jason Ward, PhD Student, University of Sydney
Matteo Frenco, Exchange Master’s Student, Wageningen University, the Netherlands
Tessy Hicks, Exchange Master’s Student, Wageningen University, the Netherlands
Jill Muhling, PhD, Postdoctoral Fellow
Kate Van Brussel, Honours Student, University of Sydney
Elijah Lake, Honours Student, University of Sydney
Wojciech Kuban, PhD, Postdoctoral Fellow