The Mito Foundation Scientific and Medical Advisory Panel is comprised of world class researchers and clinicians in the field of mitochondrial disease. The role of the panel is to advise the Mito Foundation Board on how best to apply funds raised, and assess the merits of various applications for Mito Foundation grants.
The panel is also a point of reference for medical and research questions from the mitochondrial disease community, the media, politicians and other interested parties.
The Scientific & Medical Advisory Panel members are:
Professor Aleksandra Filipovska (Chair)
Aleksandra Filipovska is a Deputy Director of the ARC Centre of Excellence in Synthetic biology, NHMRC Senior Research Fellow and Professor at the University of Western Australia. She received her PhD in 2002 from the University of Otago, New Zealand. From 2003-2005 she was a NZ Foundation for Research, Science and Technology Fellow at the MRC Mitochondrial Biology Unit in Cambridge, the United Kingdom. In 2006 she relocated to Australia as a NHMRC Howard Florey Fellow and established her research group at the Perkins Institute of Medical Research at the University of Western Australia.
She was an Australian Research Council Future Fellow until 2014 and since 2014 she has been a NHMRC Senior Research Fellow and Professor at UWA and the Harry Perkins Institute of Medical Research and established a Mitochondrial Disease Therapy group at Telethon Kids Institute in 2019. Her research interests are in the regulation of gene expression by RNA-binding proteins and the use of multi-omic technologies to elucidate their molecular functions in health and disease. Her research group uses genomic technologies and synthetic biology to design new models of mitochondrial diseases and develop treatments for these disorders.
Professor Mike Ryan (Deputy Chair)
Pro Vice-Chancellor (Research)
Professor Ryan is the Pro Vice-Chancellor (Research) at Monash University, where he is responsible for leading and supporting Monash’s current and future research agenda, fostering excellence and collaboration and promoting Monash’s research capabilities, global reputation and profile.
Professor Ryan also heads the Mitochondrial Biology and Disease Laboratory in the Monash Biomedicine Discovery Institute. His research seeks to understand the molecular basis of mitochondrial disease and treatment options to improve cellular energy generation. His work is currently funded by grants from the National Health and Medical Research Council, Medical Research Future Fund, Australian Research Council, and charitable foundations.
Professor Ryan has served on numerous boards and committees including as President of the Australian Society for Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, the Australian Academy of Sciences’ National Committee for Biomedical Sciences, and the Research Grant Committee and Selection Grant Committee of the International Human Frontier Science Program Organisation (current Chair). He is a Director of the Mito Foundation and Deputy Chair of its Scientific and Medical Advisory Panel. In 2023, Prof. Ryan was awarded the Lemberg Medal from the Australian Society for Biochemistry and Molecular Biology for excellence in biochemistry and molecular biology and significant contributions to the scientific community.
Dr Shanti Balasubramaniam
Dr Shanti Balasubramaniam is a Metabolic Geneticist, the first to be appointed in the state of Western Australia where she headed the Metabolic Service from 2012 to 2015. As the clinical lead of a statewide referral center, she actively participated in several clinical trials geared towards the development of new therapeutic strategies and was also involved in collaborative diagnostic research endeavours with both national and international colleagues. She was privileged to be a member of the Advisory Group for the Western Australian Rare Diseases Strategy, a strategic framework which focussed on advocating rare diseases as a public health priority and in addressing equitable access to healthcare services for the rare diseases community.
Shanti is currently a Senior Staff Specialist at The Children's Hospital at Westmead, Sydney Children's Hospital Network.
Professor John Christodoulou AM
MB BS PhD FRACP FFSc(RCPA) FRCPA FHGSA FAHMS
John graduated from the University of Sydney, and has formal qualifications in paediatrics, medical genetics and genetic pathology. He undertook his formal genetic training at the Murdoch Research Institute in Melbourne, Australia, and had further postdoctoral training in genetic metabolic disorders at the Hospital for Sick Children in Toronto, Canada. He returned to Sydney and for 18 years was the Director of the Western Sydney Genetics Program at the Children’s Hospital at Westmead, one of the largest fully integrated clinical and laboratory diagnostic genetic services in Australia. He relocated to the Murdoch Children’s Research Institute (MCRI) in Melbourne in 2016, is currently the Director of the Genetics Research Theme of the MCRI, and co-leads the Brain and Mitochondrial Research Group with Professor David Thorburn. John is also the Chair of Genomic Medicine, Department of Paediatrics, University of Melbourne.
Apart from mitochondrial disorders, his other major research interests are in Rett syndrome and related neurodevelopmental disorders. He also has a major research interest in the application of next generation sequencing (NGS) technologies in rare genetic disorders. He is the Co-Lead of the Australian Genomics Health Alliance, focusing on bringing NGS diagnostics into mainstream clinical practice in Australia, and with David co-leads the Australian Genomics mitochondrial diseases flagship.
He has published over 280 peer reviewed papers and is regularly called upon for lectures on a range of genetics subjects.
John is a former Past President of the Human Genetics Society of Australasia (2005 – 2007). In 2010 he became a Member of the General Division of the Order of Australia (AM) and in 2017 became a Fellow of the Australian Academy of Health & Medical Sciences.
John is a founding director of the Mito Foundation and a member of the Mito Foundation Scientific & Medical Advisory Panel.
Dr Doug Lingard AM
MB ChB FRANZCR
Doug is a Radiologist & Nuclear Physician who has been active in both public and private medicine in Australia for over 30 years. He is a cofounder of the largest Diagnostic Imaging practice in Australia, Pittwater Radiology & Medical Imaging Australasia Ltd. He and his wife Margie are the parents of two children with mitochondrial disease.
Doug is the Mito Foundation Chairman, a member of the Mito Foundation Nominations Committee and a founding director of the Mito Foundation.
Professor Carolyn Sue AM
MBBS, PhD, FRACP
Professor Carolyn Sue, MBBS, PhD, FRACP, the Kinghorn Chair, Neurodegeneration at Neuroscience Research Australia (NeuRA), is an internationally recognised clinician-scientist, a leader in Parkinson’s and mitochondrial disease and a medicine alum of UNSW who trained at Prince of Wales Hospital and at Columbia University in the United States.
Professor Sue was the head of the Departments of Neurogenetics and Neurology at Northern Sydney Local Health District, while also leading Royal North Shore Hospital’s clinic for mitochondrial disease patients — the largest mitochondrial disease clinic in Australia. She is the immediate past Executive Director of the Kolling Institute, where she positioned the institute as a centre of world-leading translational research excellence.
Carolyn’s experience, expertise and contribution have been widely recognised. She is a Fellow of the Australian Academy of Health and Medical Sciences and serves on the Council of the National Health and Medical Research Council. She is also a founding member of the Mito Foundation and holds leadership roles at the Movement Disorder Society of Australia and New Zealand, International Parkinson’s Disease and Movement Disorder Society and Australian Mitochondrial Disease Medical Network. In 2019, Carolyn was awarded a member of the Order of Australia (AM) in recognition of her significant services to medicine, particularly mitochondrial disease.
Professor David Thorburn
BSc(Hons) PhD FHGSA FFSc(RCPA) FAHMS
Professor David Thorburn received his PhD in Biochemistry from the University of Sydney in 1987 before completing a Fulbright Fellowship with Prof Ernie Beutler at Scripps Clinic, La Jolla (San Diego), California. David returned to Australia in 1990, and is an NHMRC Principal Research Fellow at the Murdoch Children’s Research Institute (MCRI), located in the Royal Children’s Hospital in Melbourne. He holds honorary appointments in the Department of Paediatrics, University of Melbourne and with Victorian Clinical Genetics Services. David is a former President of the Human Genetics Society of Australasia and a former member of the Scientific Advisory Board for the United Mitochondrial Disease Foundation (USA).
David and John Christodoulou co-lead the MCRI Brain and Mitochondrial Research Group, which is primarily involved in research but also acts as the Australasian referral centre for diagnosis of mitochondrial disease in children. His lab has diagnosed more than 700 patients with mitochondrial disease and published over 200 scientific journal articles and reviews. David’s research focuses on the genetic basis of mitochondrial energy generation diseases. He has had a particular interest in understanding how mitochondrial DNA mutations are passed on from mothers to their children, and translating this knowledge into approaches for genetic counselling, prenatal diagnosis and prevention. He also studies the roles of nuclear genes, which are inherited from both parents. His lab has identified over 25 novel “disease” genes using a range of genomic and cell biology approaches. His lab has developed mouse models and human stem cell models of mitochondrial disease that are being used to study the precise disease mechanisms and to trial treatment strategies.
David is a founding director of the Mito Foundation and a member of the Mito Foundation Nominations Committee and the Mito Foundation Scientific & Medical Advisory Panel.
Professor Nigel Turner
BSc (Hons) PhD
Professor Nigel Turner is head of the Cellular Bioenergetics Laboratory at Victor Chang Cardiac Research Institute. Prior to this role he was head of the Mitochondrial Bioenergetics Laboratory at UNSW Australia. He completed a PhD in 2004 in comparative physiology and biochemistry at the University of Wollongong. From 2005-2012 he was in the Diabetes and Obesity Research Program at the Garvan Institute of Medical Research in Sydney, supported by a NHMRC Peter Doherty Fellowship and NMHRC Career Development Award. In 2012 he was awarded an Australian Research Council Future Fellowship and relocated his research group to UNSW.
Nigel’s research focuses on investigating factors that regulate mitochondrial function and cellular bioenergetics in healthy and diseased states. In particular, his research group is seeking to understand how aberrations in cellular energy metabolism may contribute to the pathogenesis of diseases such as diabetes and cancer.