Melissa Little, a stem cell pioneer at the Murdoch Children’s Research Institute

Published: 19 August 2021

Being a researcher is such and exciting careerMeet Professor Melissa Little, a stem cell pioneer at the Murdoch Children’s Research Institute (MCRI) in Melbourne and another fantastic researcher helping to increase our understanding of the effects of COVID-19 on the body.

Together with a team of scientists from MCRI, The Doherty Institute, Walter and Eliza Hall Institute of Medical Research and Monash University, Professor Little is using human-derived stem cells to investigate the effects of COVID-19 on the heart, lungs, brain, kidneys, immune system and blood vessels, and even placenta.

The hope is that by better understanding how this virus infects and impacts organ systems, we will be better able to develop new targeted treatments. This team is also exploring “long COVID” conditions such as fatigue and ongoing breathing problems, at the cellular level.

It’s exciting work, because this is a collaboration of Melbourne’s absolute best and brightest in virology and stem cell expertise, and the first-time research like this has been done in Australia.

Professor Little is a world pioneer on using human stem cells to create models of the kidney for disease modelling, such as in this project, and hopefully one day for cellular therapy

‘Being a researcher is such an exciting career and generating outcomes that may eventually treat patients keeps the enthusiasm going’ said Professor Little.

‘When I started studying biology, I had no idea that what we can do now could ever be achieved. That is the wonder of science.’

National Science Week

You’re guaranteed to find events to enjoy during National Science Week, Australia’s annual celebration of all things science and technology. There are more than a thousand activities to explore between 14-22 August, including our Science in Government podcast series where experts discuss their careers in the Victorian Government, covering everything from detecting COVID-19 in wastewater to watching grass grow from space.

For more, visit Victoria's Lead Scientist - Podcasts – Science in Government.