We are an iconic provider of hospital-based healthcare, striving to deliver an exceptional standard of care
We comprise several hospitals, health centres, a nationally accredited education provider and a world-class research institute
We are a nationally accredited, hospital-based Registered Training Organisation - the only one of its kind in Queensland
We are part of a collaborative research institute with The University of Queensland and founding partner of the Translational Research Institute
Mater Researcher Dr Felicity Davis has been awarded one of two $50,000 Metcalf Prizes from the National Stem Cell Foundation of Australia in recognition of her leadership in the field of stem cell research.
Each year, the National Stem Cell Foundation of Australia awards and celebrates two exceptional mid-career stem cell researchers with the Metcalf Prizes for Stem Cell Research. The initiative aims to recognise and reward scientists who are conducting excellent and sustained work focused on stem cell research.
Mammary biologist Dr Felicity Davis is investigating how breasts change through life: how they develop during puberty, alter during pregnancy and change back after breastfeeding is complete.
A scientist at Mater Research Institute—University of Queensland (MRI—UQ), she is examining the role stem cells play in this remarkable tissue plasticity.
Felicity leads research that details how mammary glands form and how they function during lactation. Discovering how this happens at a molecular, cellular and tissue level will provide new insights when problems in the breast arise – ranging from breastfeeding difficulties to breast cancer.
Of particular interest is calcium signalling, a critical cellular communication process.
“Calcium signalling is a kind of messaging system that tells cells what to do while the mother is breastfeeding,” she explains.
“We look at calcium signals in cells of living mammary gland tissue from mouse models. When an individual cell fires, we can see this as an increase in fluorescence intensity under a microscope.
“We can then peer deep into the tissue and see how these signals are controlling that cell’s behaviour and how hundreds of these cells are interacting. There’s the twinkling effect of calcium signals firing, followed by cells contracting.”
Felicity’s initial research set out to pin down exactly how calcium itself is transported into milk during lactation, but she soon realised it was involved in many other processes.
After research stints in the US and UK, she set up her own lab at Mater Research Institute-University of Queensland, dedicated to exploring the biochemical and mechanical control of mammary gland formation and function.
“We don’t completely understand what makes these cells in developing mammary glands grow and divide, branch out and form these intricate complex structures in a very controlled manner, where every cell is exactly where it needs to be when it needs to be there,” she says.
“And then in pregnancy, we also don’t fully understand how stem and progenitor cells create many thousands of new cells that are capable of producing milk and making it available to the child precisely when they ask for it.
“We should be doing everything we can in order to understand how that happens physiologically, how the breast changes to allow that to happen and how it remodels after the process is complete.”
07 3163 1524
07 3163 6142
Mater Foundation is driving a call to arms for the community to show their support for frontline health workers who are working tirelessly during the nation’s Omicron ...
Louise loved flying high as a QANTAS flight attendant but the call to be part of the solution to the current COVID-19 pandemic was too strong for her to ignore.
Stay up-to-date using Mater’s combined Policy and Procedure Library
The Mater Research Publication Recognition Scheme winners have been announced.