Associate Professor Mirella Dottori

Position: Associate Professor (IHMRI)
Phone: +61 2 4221 5322
Fax: +61 2 4221 8130
Office: B32.229


Associate Professor Dottori undertook her PhD at Walter and Eliza Hall Institute in the field of developmental neuroscience. Her studies in this area continued into her postdoctoral training at the Salk Institute, La Jolla, USA. She then returned to Australia as a NHMRC Howard Florey Fellow working at Monash University to study human stem cell biology. In 2007, A/Prof Dottori established her own research group at the University of Melbourne and received an Australian Research Fellowship in 2013 in recognition of her studies in neuronal fate specification of human pluripotent stem cells. In 2017, A/Prof Dottori moved to University of Wollongong as Prinicipal Research Fellow and Group Leader at the Illawarra Health and Medical Research Research Institute.

Top publications

  1. Abu-Bonsrah KD, Zhang D, Bjorksten AR, Dottori M and Newgreen DF (2017) Generation of adrenal chromaffin-like cells from human pluripotent stem cells. Stem Cell Reports (In press)
  2. Denham M, Hasegawa K, Menheniott T, Rollo B, Zhang D, Hough S, Alshawaf A, Febbraro F, Ighaniyan S, Leung J, Elliott D, Newgreen DF, Pera MF and Dottori M. (2015) Multipotent caudal neural progenitors derived from human pluripotent stem cells that give rise to lineages of the central and peripheral nervous system. Stem Cells 33:1759-1770
  3. Bird MJ, Needham K, Frazier AE, van Rooijen J, Leung J, Hough S, Denham M, Thornton ME, Parish CL, Nayagam BA, Pera M, Thorburn DR, Thompson LH, Dottori M. (2014) Functional characterization of Friedreich ataxia iPS-derived neural progenitors and their integration in the adult brain. Plos One 9(7):e101718.
  4. Denham M, Bye, C, Conley BJ, Leung J, Thompson LH and Dottori M. (2012) Glycogen synthase kinase 3b and activin/nodal inhibition in human embryonic stem cells induces a pre-neuroepithelial state that is required for specification to a floor plate cell lineage. Stem Cells 30:2400-2411.

Research Overview

Associate Professor Dottori’s PhD and postdoctoral studies gave her a solid foundation in understanding how the nervous system develops, particularly in relation to neural stem cell fate and establishing circuitry pathways. Her vision was to apply this knowledge to human stem cell biology, in order to drive stem cells to specific neuronal lineages for their application in establishing cellular models of brain function and dysfunction in a diseased state. Dottori has published prominent, high impact senior-author papers on deriving specific neuronal lineages from hESC, including midbrain dopaminergic neurons, neural crest, and sensory neurons. These studies have important relevance to Parkinson’s Disease, Hirschsprung’s disease, peripheral neuropathies, hearing loss and Friedreich ataxia. Of consequence, Dottori has established an extensive network of national and international collaborators, working on these various diseases, most of which have produced fruitful outcomes in co-authored publications and funding.

Associate Professor Dottori’s research efforts in disease modeling have been predominantly dedicated to a rare genetically inherited disease known as Friedreich ataxia. Hers was one of the first groups to generate Friedreich ataxia patient stem cell lines, which have been fundamental in helping to establish cellular models for the much-needed drug screening platforms. A/Prof Dottori is now leading scientific endeavors in stem cell neurobiology at IHMRI, UOW, which she moved to in 2017. Here, she builds on her expertise in generating neuronal cell types to studying how specific populations of neurons interact to form functional circuitry systems. Bioengineering technologies, including microelectrode array systems and automated patch clamping, are being used to measure network wide functionality in human stem cell-derived neurons. Dottori’s multidisciplinary research approach have valuable outcomes in establishing models systems to study neurological disease states. 

Last reviewed: 4 December, 2017