Dr Meghan Thomas
Post Doc Research Fellow
|Telephone:||(61 8) 6304 3551|
Dr Meghan Thomas is the Founding Director of ParkC (www.parkc.org.au). Originating from WA, she completed half her doctoral work in the prestigious Brain Repair Centre at the University of Cambridge UK, and has extended this connection into a successful post-doctoral collaboration, keeping her in daily touch with both neuroscientists and clinicians.
Dr Thomas’ laboratory research interests have focused on applying stem cells therapeutically. Her proof-of-principle experiments illustrated the importance of matching stem cell genetic read-out to that of the host. Dr Thomas’ unique research approach is reflected in her gaining in 2006 an Australian Research Council Discovery grant; the scheme is highly competitive with only two grants being awarded in that year for neuroscience Australia-wide. In the seven years since completing her PhD she has published 15 manuscripts in international peer-reviewed scientific journals, been awarded more than $570,000 in competitive funding, and generated over $67,000 in philanthropic donations.
When a family friend was diagnosed with PD, Meghan became involved in the support group they established for people with young onset Parkinson’s, affectionately known as the YOGs. Through this involvement it became obvious to Dr Thomas that for research to improve the quality of life of people with PD it must be a collaborative effort between researchers, the people with the condition and their families, as well as with medical and other health professionals. It was the desire to bring this to Perth that saw Dr Thomas establish the Parkinson’s Centre (ParkC) at Edith Cowan University.
- 2008-present: Founding Co-ordinator, Parkinson’s Centre (ParkC), Edith Cowan University
- 2007-present: Postdoctoral Research Fellow (Neurological Cell Replacement Therapies), Edith Cowan University
- 2007-present: Adjunct Postdoctoral Research Fellow (Experimental and Regenerative Neuroscience), University of Western Australia
- Member, International Cellular Medicine Society Cellular Medicine Treatment Oversight Committee.
- Treasurer, Combined Biological Sciences Meeting
Awards and Recognition
University and National Teaching Awards
- 2012: Awarded the ECU Vice-Chancellor’s Staff Awards for Engagement in Research
- 2009: Awarded the ECU Vice-Chancellor’s Award for Excellence in Research by Early Career Researchers
Research Areas and Interests
- Parkinson’s disease
- Stem Cells
- Developmental Genetics
- Pax genes
- The role and regulation of transcription factors in development, adult, and injury
- Stem cell differentiation
- Subtyping Parkinson’s disease
- Doctor of Philosophy, The University of Western Australia, 2005 .
- Bachelor of Science Honours, The University of Western Australia, 2001 .
Recent Research Grants
- The neuroprotective roles of Pax6 isoforms, University of Western Australia, Raine Foundation Grant, 2012 - 2013, $100,000.
- Engineering tools to repress MYCN in Neuroblastoma, Cancer Council of WA Inc, Grant - Early Career Investigator, 2013 - 2014, $24,994.
- Switching on survival genes to save nerve cells from damage, Edith Cowan University, ECU Early Career Researcher - Grant, 2011 - 2012, $24,962.
- Genomic profile of a WA cohort of people with Parkinson?s disease (PD), Edith Cowan University, ECU Industry Collaboration - Grant, 2011 - 2012, $74,034.
- Comparative anatomy of the Caudal Zona Incerta Deep Brain Stimulation Region, Parkinsons Association of WA Inc, Scholarship, 2010 - 2011, $7,000.
- Neurological cell replacement therapies: improving outcomes by matching developmental profiles of transplanted cells with the damaged brain area. , Australian Research Council, Grant - Discovery, 2007 - 2010, $118,176.
- Saving the substantia nigra? A novel role for the gene Pax6, Parkinsons Association of WA Inc, Grant, 2008 - 2009, $5,455.
- Maximising the potential of stem cells used in cell replacement therapies to treat neurodegenerative disease and brain injury, Edith Cowan University, ECU Early Career Researcher - Grant, 2005 - 2006, $15,000.
- Matching the developmental transcription factor profiles of transplanted cells and host injured brain regions is crucial for successful cell transplant therapies, Western Australian Institute for Medical Research Inc, Grant, 2005 - 2006, $60,000.
Recent Publications (within the last five years)
- White, R., Thomas, M., (2012), Moving Beyond Tyrosine Hydroxylase to Define Dopaminergic Neurons for Use in Cell Replacement Therapies for Parkinson?s Disease. CNS and Neurological Disorders - Drug Targets , 11(4), 340-349, Netherlands.
- Thomas, M., Stone, L., Evill, L., Ong, S., Ziman, M., Hool, L., (2011), Bone marrow stromal cells as replacement cells for Parkinson's disease: generation of an anatomical but not functional neuronal phenotype. Translational Research: the journal of laboratory and clinical medicine, 157(2), 56-63, DOI: 10.1016/j.trsl.2010.11.001.
- Lam, MF., Thomas, M., Lind, CR., (2011), Neurosurgical convection-enhanced delivery of treatments for Parkinson's disease. Journal of Clinical Neuroscience, 18(9), 1163-1167, DOI: 10.1016/j.jocn.2011.01.012.
- Bucks, RS., Cruise, K., Skinner, TC., Loftus., AM., Barker, RA., Thomas, M., (2011), Coping processes and health-related quality of life in Parkinson's disease. International Journal of Geriatric Psychiatry, 26(3), 247-255, DOI: 10.1002/gps.2520.
- Thomas, M., (2010), Role of transcription factors in cell replacement therapies for neurodegenerative conditions. Regenerative Medicine , 5(3), 441-450, United Kingdom, DOI: 10.2217/RME.10.17.
- Bucks, R., Cruise, K., Skinner, TS., Loftus, A., Barker, R., Thomas, M., (2010), Coping processes and health-related quality of life in Parkinson?s disease. International Journal of Geriatric Psychiatry, 26(3), 247-255, United Kingdom, DOI: 10.1002/gps.2520.
- Cruise, K., Bucks, R., Loftus, A., Newton, R., Pegoraro, R., Thomas, M., (2010), Exercise and Parkinson's: benefits for cognition and quality of life. Acta Neurologica Scandinavica, 123(1), 13-19, United States, DOI: 10.1111/j.1600-0404.2010.01338.x.
- Thomas, M., Tyers, P., Lazic, S., Barker, R., Beazley, L., Ziman, M., (2009), Graft outcomes influenced by co-expression of Pax7 in graft and host tissue. Journal of Anatomy, 214(3), 396-405, United Kingdom, DOI: 10.1111/j.1469-7580.2009.01049.x.
- Blake, J., Thomas, M., Thompson, J., White, R., Ziman, M., (2008), Perplexing Pax: From Puzzle to Paradigm. Developmental Dynamics, 237(10), 2791-2803, USA.