Meet the Innovation Centre Team

Dr Maz Ali

Research Scientist, Metabolomics Facility

Dr Maz Ali is a Research Scientist within Freedman Foundation Metabolomics Facility, Innovation Centre, Victor Chang Cardiac Research Institute. Dr Ali is experienced in metabolomics and proteomics applications in multidisciplinary research, with expertise in drug discovery, natural products and biomedical artificial intelligence applications.

Dr Ali submitted his PhD in November 2021 at NICM Health Research Institute, Western Sydney University, Australia, where he trained in Multiomics applications to decipher the synergistic and cytotoxic mechanism of anticancer drug combinations along with metabolomic profiling of herbal medicines and a wide range of pharmacological testing. In addition, Dr Ali completed his metabolomics training with Oliver Fiehn’s team at West Coast Metabolomics Centre at the University of California Davis, California, USA.

In 2017, Dr Ali worked on a collaboration project between MyHealth Test® and the University of Canberra to develop LCMS based platform analyzing hormones and vitamins from dried blood spots. Dr Ali excelled in a multiplex of chromatographic and pectrophotometric techniques since the start of his master’s in the chemistry of natural products in 2014. Dr Ali is proficient in tandem mass spectrometry-based multi-omics, including triple quadrupole, Quadrupole time of flight (QTOF) or QTOF coupled with ion mobility (IM) setups from different vendors. Dr Ali has experience in a wide range of multi-omics downstream informatics, including differential metabolites screening (PCA, OPLS-DA, PLS-DA ), clustering analyses, biomarker discovery, pathway enrichment analyses and visualization of omics data.

Dr Maz Ali, Innovation Centre

Dr Mohammed Atif

Lead Scientist, Cell Function and Screening Facility

Dr. Mohammed Atif is the Lead Scientist at the Cell Function and Screening Facility within the Innovation Centre at Victor Chang Cardiac Research Institute (VCCRI). He is an experienced electrophysiologist with expertise in mammalian cell lines expressing different ion channels ranging from neuronal to cardiovascular. His research has centered around screening compound libraries on ion channels to discover lead hits that can be used to alleviate symptoms in epilepsy, chronic pain, and cardiovascular diseases.

Before joining the Innovation Centre at VCCRI, he was a Post-Doctoral Research Fellow at the Institute for Molecular Biosciences (IMB) within the University of Queensland. At this institute, he designed, generated, purified, and tested several small molecule peptides from Australian Theraphosidae Selenotypus sp. on sodium ion channels (Nav) using a fluorescence imaging cell-based assay (FLIPR) and automated electrophysiology.

Prior to his work at IMB, he was a Research Officer at Florey Institute of Neuroscience and Mental Health within the University of Melbourne. He led a project in collaboration with a biotech company, BioCurate Pty. Ltd, SYNthesis Med chem and Florey Institute. Using a medium through-put electrophysiology setup i.e., Patchliner, he and his team generated lead hits that had significant selectivity for one of the HCN ion channel isoforms.

He got his Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) in 2019 at the Queensland Brain Institute within the University of Queensland. Here he worked on multiple projects but was mainly focused on discerning the mechanism by which an invertebrate i.e., Haemonchus contortus develops resistance to a gold standard anthelminthic drug, ivermectin. Using two-electrode voltage clamp, he developed an assay that allowed him to test multiple concentrations of ivermectin without having to wash off the drug. He showed for the first time that invertebrate ion channel receptors can be spontaneously activated in a co-culture (inhibitory post-synaptic currents - IPSCs) having neuronal cells from rat embryos and HEK cells expressing invertebrate glutamate receptors.

In 2014, Atif attained his Master of Pharmacy, following the completion of his Bachelor of Pharmacy in 2011 at Jawaharlal Nehru Technological University. During this academic pursuit, he conducted investigations into the analgesic, hepatoprotective, and antiurolithiatic effects of plant extracts, utilizing murine models for experimentation.

Dr Mohammed Atif, Lead Scientist at Cell Function and Screening Facility

Dr Satya Arjunan

Senior Scientific Software Engineer, Biomedical Data Science Facility

Dr Satya Arjunan is a Scientific Software Engineer and member of the Biomedical Data Science Facility within the Innovation Centre at the Victor Chang Cardiac Research Institute. Dr Arjunan is experienced in designing, developing, implementing, testing and maintaining scientific software applications written in a variety of languages including C/C++, Python, R and Matlab. He is experienced in performing statistical analyses and implementing scientific applications that can exploit high-performance computing resources using pthread, MPI and CUDA libraries.

In 2009, Dr Arjunan received his PhD in Systems Biology from Keio University, Japan, where he worked on modelling and simulating reaction-diffusion dynamics of bacterial cell division regulators at single-molecule resolution. During his postdoctoral work at the RIKEN Center for Biosystems Dynamics Research in Japan (2010-2018), he studied the mechanisms of PIP3/PTEN travelling waves in amoeba and kinesin-microtubule dynamics in neurons during development using advanced 3D simulation and visualisation approaches that he developed.

Prior to joining Victor Chang Cardiac Research Institute, he was a research fellow at the UNSW Lowy Cancer Research Centre (2018-2021), where he developed a multi-scale simulator to capture 3D lymphocyte migration dynamics in silico. He has also performed statistical analyses and applied machine learning approaches to construct realistic models of lymphocyte migration in 3D collagen matrix.

Dr Satya Arjunan, Biomedical Data Science Facility

Michael Bullen

Research Scientist, Stem Cell Production Facility

Michael Bullen is a Research Scientist in the Stem Cell Production Facility within the Innovation Centre at the Victor Chang Cardiac Research Institute. He is a qualified Molecular and Stem Cell Biologist, having worked with a variety of mammalian stem cells, including human iPSCs. His research has centred around numerous gene-editing techniques, including CRISPR-Cas9, as well as various sequencing methods, particularly in relation to transcriptomic and epitranscriptomic profiling.

Michael completed his Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.) in 2023, at the Biomedicine Discovery Institute within the Faculty of Medicine and Health Sciences at Monash University, Melbourne. Throughout his Ph.D., he utilised CRISPR-Cas9 to examine gene regulation in embryonic stem cells, from generating single gene knockouts, to performing large-scale mutagenesis screens and loss-of-function genetic screens, identifying several key stem cell regulators and regulatory elements. Michael was also involved in disease modelling of neurodevelopmental disorders, using patient-specific cell lines to generate cortical organoids, to better understand how gene dysregulation contributes to neurocognitive disorders.

Michael completed his Bachelor of Science degree in 2017, majoring in Genetics and Molecular Biology and his Honours degree in Anatomy and Developmental Biology in 2018, looking at epigenetic gene regulation and RNA modifications in embryonic stem cells.

Dr Michael Bullen, Stem Cell Production Facility

Dr David Humphreys

Senior Research Scientist, Biomedical Data Science Facility

Dr David Humphreys is a multidisciplinary wet-lab/bioinformatician scientist and a senior member of the Biomedical Data Science Facility within the Innovation Centre.

Dr David Humphreys completed his BSc(Hons) and PhD at the University of Wollongong through the department of cell and molecular biology. In his undergraduate years he also completed course work to fulfill a joint major in computer science. Dr Humphreys then joined the Victor Chang Cardiac Research Institute as a postdoc researcher in 2000 and developed a research interest in post transcriptional gene regulation involving microRNAs. Between 2009 and 2011 Dr Humphreys played a pivotal role in establishing the first high throughput sequencer at the VCCRI where he performed library prep and bioinformatic analysis. He then managed the Genome Core Facility which enabled him to collaborate with many research groups within VCCRI.

Dr Humphreys works closely with both researchers and clinicians and has extensive experience with a wide range of bioinformatic analysis, particularly with high throughput sequencing data sets. These include both DNA-Sequencing (eg Whole genome, whole exome, Chip Seq, ATAC Seq) and RNA-Sequencing (eg single cell RNA-Seq, miRNA-Seq, whole transcriptome, circle RNA, tRNA). Dr Humphreys has also developed various bioinformatic tools that help visualise trends within these complex data sets (eg miRspring, Ularcirc, Sierra).

Dr David Humphreys, Biomedical Data Science Facility

Jessica Farr

Scientific Software Engineer, Biomedical Data Science Facility

Jessica Farr is a Scientific Software Engineer in the Innovation Centre’s Biomedical Data Science Facility. Prior to joining the Innovation Centre, she obtained her bachelor’s degree in Bioinformatics Engineering (Hons) from the University of New South Wales in 2022 and was a research assistant in the Computational Cardiology Laboratory at Victor Chang Cardiac Research Institute garnering skills in designing custom analysis routines and performing in silico cardiac simulations.

Over her career, Jessica has developed a bespoke MATLAB GUI that provides an extensive range of biomedical signal analysis techniques to procure results for multi-electrode array experiments. She has collaborated with researchers at the Victor Chang Cardiac Research Institute to develop automated python quality control and data analysis pipelines to aid scientific investigation using automated patch clamp technology to uncover the mechanisms of cardiac channelopathies caused by genetic or pharmacological factors. Her work has been involved in the first high-throughput implementation of a drug screening protocol for the FDA’s Comprehensive in vitro Proarrhythmic Assay initiative. Her portfolio further includes developing the analysis routines for the first validated, high-throughput functional phenotyping assay to assess the severity of LQTS2 caused by KCNH2 variants.

Jessica has been involved in a partnership between the Victor Chang Cardiac Research Institute and Telstra that focused on developing a proof of concept for an online platform for clinicians and scientists. This project catalysed the development of a cloud based proarrhythmic risk prediction service for future distribution to pharmaceutical companies with the goal to extend the Victor Chang Cardiac Research Institute’s relationship with industry partners and to increase the immediate social impact of cardiac research.

Jess Farr, Biomedical Data Science Facility

Dr Jacek Kolanowski

Head, Research Facilities and Innovation Centre

Dr hab. Jacek L. Kolanowski joined the Victor Chang Cardiac Research Institute in 2024 as Head, Research Facilities and Innovation Centre.

In the last five years prior to joining the Institute, Dr Kolanowski led the strategic development of the Centre of Chemical Biology at IBCH PAS, which became a leading partner in the EU-OPENSCREEN European Research Infrastructure Consortium achieving financial sustainability.

From 2020-2022, Jacek also served as the President and then until 2023 as the Board Member of the Young Academies Science Advice Structure, which he led to join the prestigious Science Advice Mechanism for the European Commission. In this role, and as a national expert in European science policy on Research Infrastructures, Research Careers and Health, he has passionately advocated for greater participation of researchers in science policy and science advice and contributed to Horizon Europe programme design, fostering collaboration and driving impactful change across the scientific landscape.

Dr Kolanowski has led and/or been a co-investigator in over 30 national and international research and infrastructure projects, collaborating with partners across diverse disciplines and sectors, all while effectively managing budgets exceeding 15 million EUR. His research interests include dual analyte molecular probes, strategies for covalent labelling of macromolecules and study of their microenvironments, multiparametric high content and/or high throughput assays and development of advanced methods and technologies in disease investigation and drug candidate identification.

Dr Kolanowski completed a PhD at ENS Lyon in 2013 followed by a postdoctoral fellowship at the University of Sydney until 2017. He subsequently returned to Poland to embark on his independent research career at the Institute for Bioorganic Chemistry, Polish Academy of Sciences in Poznań (IBCH PAS) where he led the department of Molecular Probes and Prodrugs, developing new small molecule tools to investigate and control biological systems. He received his habilitation from the same institution in 2023.

Dr Jacek Kolanowski, Head Innovation Centre

Esther Kristianto

Research Scientist, Metabolomics Facility

Esther Kristianto has lengthy experience working with mass spectrometry (MS) instrumentation. She completed her BSc in Applied Chemistry at the University of Technology Sydney in 2007, training in multiresidue analysis.

In 2011, Kristianto joined the South Australian node of Metabolomics Australia, housed within the Australian Wine Research Institute (AWRI). She was responsible for performing targeted analysis of metabolites in grapes and wines, as well as facilitating new method development in other biological matrices using GC-MS, LC-MS/MS and LC-qTOF.

Kristianto later returned to Sydney and joined the newly established Metabolomics Facility in the Victor Chang Cardiac Research Institute Innovation Centre. She operates the LC-MS/MS instruments for targeted metabolomics analysis and work closely and collaboratively with researchers and students to develop new workflows and methods for their projects.

Esther Kristianto, Metabolomics Facility

Dr Scott Page

Head, Micro Imaging Facility

Dr Scott Page is the Head of the Micro Imaging Facility at the Victor Chang Cardiac Research Institute Innovation Centre. Dr Page is an experienced microscopist, with significant expertise in fluorescence and confocal microscopy, 3D and live cell microscopy, electron microscopy and in silico post-processing and analysis.

Dr Page completed his PhD in Molecular and Human Genetics in 1998 at Baylor College of Medicine, USA, where he first utilised fluorescence microscopy. During his postdoctoral work in the USA he used a variety of microscopy techniques to study the molecular mechanisms of chromosome behaviour in meiosis. He then relocated to Australia in 2006, where he has worked at James Cook University (2006-09) and Children’s Medical Research Institute (2009-14), investigating various aspects of mitotic cell division while further developing his skills across several microscopy techniques, including live fluorescence and confocal microscopy, 3D imaging and automated high-throughput microscopy, as well as an interest in training researchers in imaging methods.

From 2014-2020, Dr Page was the Manager of the ACRF Telomere Analysis Centre where he established and led the Advanced Microscopy Centre at the Children’s Medical Research Institute. In 2021, Dr Page took up leadership of the Micro Imaging Facility at the Victor Chang Cardiac Research Institute Innovation Centre. He collaborates with scientists, providing research support and training in specimen preparation, image acquisition, and post-processing and analysis of microscopy data obtained with the facility’s state-of-the-art instruments.

Dr Scott Page, Head of the Micro Imaging Facility

Dr Pallavi Srivastava

Research Scientist, Stem Cell Production Facility

Dr. Pallavi Srivastava is a Research Scientist in the Stem Cell Production Facility within the Innovation Centre at the Victor Chang Cardiac Research Institute. She is an experienced Stem Cell Biologist and has worked with handling and derivation of a variety of adult and pluripotent stem cells. Her background includes cell and molecular biology, as well as immunological techniques, and fluorescence imaging..

Pallavi completed her Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.) in 2022 within the School of Medical Sciences and School of Chemistry at the University of New South Wales, Sydney. Her Ph.D. involved developing biomaterials-based platforms to study the biophysical effects of varied culture substrates on the differentiation and self-organisation abilities of human pluripotent stem cells. Along with utilising her stem cell biology experience, this role also introduced her to basics of materials chemistry as well as 3D cell culture methods and organoid derivation.

She received a Master of Science (MSc) degree by research from All India Institute of Medical Sciences in 2014. She worked as a research assistant and lab manager at an evolutionary genetics lab in Nanyang Technological University (NTU), Singapore that used human and chimp iPSCs for their models. She completed her Honours degree from Sam Higginbottom Institute of Agriculture, Technology and Sciences, India in 2011 majoring in Genetic Engineering and completed the final year project for this degree at Genome Institute of Singapore. A*STAR, Singapore in 2011.

Dr Pallavi Srivastava, Stem Cell Production Facility

Dr Nana Sunn

Head, Preclinical Imaging Facility

Dr Nana Sunn is the Head of the Preclinical Imaging Facility within the Innovation Centre at the Victor Chang Cardiac Research Institute. Dr Nana Sunn is an experienced preclinical imaging scientist and manager of imaging core facilities providing multimodality imaging research support and training to researchers across the disciplines.

Prior to joining the Victor Chang Cardia Research Institute, Dr Sunn setup and established preclinical imaging facilities at the University of Sydney (Sydney Imaging Core Research Facility, 2014-2021), Translational Research Institute (UQ, 2011-2014), and Queensland Brain Institute (UQ, 2006-2011).

She undertook her Postdoc Fellowships in neuroscience at The Douglas Research Centre, McGill University (2002-2003) and cardiovascular physiology, stem cells therapy & developmental biology in women & infant health at The Samuel Lunenfeld Research Institute at Mount Sinai Hospital, University of Toronto (2003-2006). With the extensive University Health Network (UHN) as her training ground in Toronto that included The Centre of Phenogenomics (a state-of-the-art national research facility for animal models of human diseases), Mouse Imaging Centre of Excellence (state-of-the-art medical imaging technologies for characterisation of mouse functional genomics), MaRS Discovery District and operating multimodal preclinical imaging facilities,

Dr Sunn has worked closely with researchers, clinicians and clinician scientists including industry partners in preclinical imaging studies. The range of preclinical imaging technology that Dr Sunn has managed included: 7T MRI, 3T PET/MR, PET/CT, micro-ultrasound with photoacoustic imaging, 3D in vivo microCT, optical bioluminescence/fluorescence imaging, 2D Xray with Dual Energy Absorptiometry camera and body composition analyser in awake animal.

Dr Nana Sunn, Preclinical Imaging Facility

Paul Young

Senior Research Officer, Biomedical Data Science Facility

Paul Young is a bioinformatician with a background in both biology and computing. His bioinformatic experience encompasses broad areas of genomics including transcriptomics, epigenomics and genomic risk analysis.

Young completed his undergraduate studies in Molecular Genetics in 1999 followed by a Masters in Biopharmaceuticals before completing postgraduate studies in Computer Science at the University of New South Wales in 2006. In 2009, Young joined the Victor Chang Cardiac Research Institute, initially working as laboratory manager, combining wet lab research and bioinformatics. His laboratory background has provided him experience across a number of fields including novel drug screening, molecular diagnostics, epigenetics and others. Paul has experience with the use of state-of-the-art equipment including HPLCs, qPCRs and next generation sequencers.

In 2018, he joined the Victor Chang Genome Core as an institute bioinformatician providing his expertise to multiple research groups within the Institute, to collaborators and external researchers. He has experience in the analysis of genomic data sets from various sequencing technologies (smallRNASeq, RNASeq, singleCellRNASeq, methylSeq and DNAseq) as well as several array platforms for genotyping and methylation analysis. Young’s accomplishments include coding software tools for the analysis of small RNA data sets, the prioritisation of genomic variants and developing specialised qPCR assay design software. Pauls’ expertise has allowed him to contribute to several patent applications, as well as >20 scientific publications. Paul is a member of the Biomedical Data Science Facility within the Innovation Centre, deploying his considerable breadth of expertise in support of user's projects.

Paul Young, Biomedical Data Science Facility

Hardik Doshi

Research Scientist, Preclinical Imaging Facility

Hardik Doshi is a Research Scientist in the Innovation Centre's Preclinical Imaging Facility. He is a Biomedical Engineer by training with a focus on Imaging. Hardik started his research during his master’s at Wayne State University with traumatic brain injury patient imaging. He did comparative analysis of changes in hemodynamics and brain volumes between mild traumatic brain injury patients and healthy controls. He further continued his research in MRI sequence development in collaboration with Philips Healthcare. He developed spiral and rosette sampling trajectories for application in arterial spin labelling and functional MRI sequences.

Before joining the Innovation Centre, he was managing the small animal MRI facility at the German Center for Neurodegenerative Diseases at Bonn, Germany. He was responsible for day-to-day operations as well as administrative tasks of the facility. He was involved in the development and implementation of novel MRI protocols with application in neurodegenerative disease models. He also helped the scientists with fluorescence and bioluminescence imaging. At the Innovation Centre he supports and trains the users on preclinical ultrasound and PET-MR imaging along with data analysis.

Hardik Doshi, Research Scientist
Acknowledgement of Country

The Victor Chang Cardiac Research Institute acknowledges Traditional Owners of Country throughout Australia and recognises the continuing connection to lands, waters and communities. We pay our respect to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander cultures; and to Elders past and present.

Victor Chang Cardiac Research Institute - The Home of Heart Research for 30 Years