Simon Koblar

Professor Simon Koblar

Professor

Adelaide Medical School

Faculty of Health and Medical Sciences

Eligible to supervise Masters and PhD - email supervisor to discuss availability.


Professor Koblar is a clinician-scientist with a national and international reputation in stroke and regenerative medicine, as well as in other disciplines including genetics, clinical neurology and developmental neurobiology. He has been appointed as the first Professor of Neurology and Neuroscience at the University of Adelaide in recognition of his significant and sustained scientific and clinical contributions.

In 2005 he founded and continues to be Director of the Stroke Research Programme (SRP), which is a unique collaboration between the South Australian Health and Medical Research Institute (SAHMRI), University of Adelaide, Basil Hetzel Institute for Translational Health Research, and two hospitals, The Queen Elizabeth (TQEH) and Royal Adelaide Hospitals (RAH). In 2015 SAHMRI was successful in being awarded one of four in the country NHMRC Advanced Health Research and Translation Centres, with stroke being one of the key thematic areas in collaboration with the SRP.

Prof. Koblar was instrumental in founding the Adelaide Centre for Neuroscience Research (ACNR) and is its Director. The ACNR has brought together multidisciplinary researchers from many schools and faculties within the University of Adelaide. It also convenes the biannual Mount Lofty Workshop in the Adelaide Hills entitled ‘Frontier Technologies for Nervous System Function and Repair’. The 6th Mt Lofty Workshop was convened in 2014 and over the last decade the workshop has invited many leading neurologists, neurosurgeons, neuropathologists and neuroscientists from around Australia and internationally to participate. The ACNR and Mt Lofty Workshops have promoted leading edge neuroscience research within the University of Adelaide, which has led to national and international collaborations. His vision to bring together clinicians and scientists was fostered from his early academic experiences. His PhD was undertaken at the Walter and Eliza Hall Institute (WEHI), University of Melbourne during the directorship of Prof./Sir Gus Nossal and Prof. Koblar’s supervisor Prof. Perry Bartlett (formerly Director Queensland Brain Institute).

He has an outstanding research profile of significant and sustained scientific contributions, having made six seminal discoveries, which are exemplified by several awards:

1. Guillain-Barré syndrome (GBS): He was a Clinical Research Fellow at Guy’s Hospital, London, UK (1990-1992) under the mentorship of Prof. Richard Hughes and together they discovered the autoimmune basis of GBS. This led to a direct clinical translation with an antibody blood test now routinely used in the diagnosis of GBS. In 2004 he was sponsored by a co-author of the GBS discovery and then newly appointed director, Prof. Patrick Doherty, to undertake sabbatical leave at the Wolfson Centre for Age-Related Diseases, Guy’s Hospital, to advise as to the nexus of clinical and basic science research in Guy’s newest research institute.

2. Leukaemia Inhibitory Factor Receptor β (LIFRβ): During his PhD at WEHI, where the cytokine LIF had been discovered, Prof. Bartlett provided him an opportunity to investigate the first LIFRβ knockout mouse in collaboration with Immunex Ltd., a biotechnology company in Seattle, USA. From these investigations he discovered the essential role of LIFRβ signalling in neural differentiation.

3. Eph and ephrin family of genes: From 1996 to 1998 he was a Senior Post-doctoral Fellow at the University of Washington, Seattle with Prof. Mark Bothwell, co-discoverer of p75 the low affinity NGF receptor. He commenced research into a newly discovered family of genes the Eph/ephrins. In collaboration with other researchers in the USA he discovered the fundamental roles of a number of Eph/eprhin genes in development of the peripheral nervous system and also found a link to oncology. In 2001 his contribution to neuroscience research by a young neurologist was recognised by the Leonard Cox Award presented by the Australian and New Zealand Association of Neurologists. In 2002 his contribution to neuroscience research in the peripheral nervous system was recognised by the Sunderland Award presented by the University of Melbourne.

4. Genetics of Stroke: In 2004 he discovered that a genetic variation in the tPA gene was a risk for small vessel stroke (Ref. 9 and Patents in CV below). This was made in collaboration with one of his early PhD students, A/Prof. Jim Jannes, and also co-director of the SRP, A/Prof. Anne Hamilton-Bruce. From 2005 to 2010 the University of Adelaide and TQEH established a start-up biotechnology company – Atherogen Biotechnology Ltd. with inventors (Jannes, Koblar and Hamilton-Bruce). Atherogen Ltd. used this discovery to develop the concept of a genetic biomarker for small vessel cerebral disease. This initial genetic stroke research led to a strong collaboration with Prof. Christopher Levi, University of Newcastle, and together they set up the Australian Stroke Genetics Collaborative (ASGC). This collaboration subsequently led to a significant genetic discovery of a genetic risk for large vessel stroke, which was verified with collaborators from the International Stroke Genetics Consortium.

5. Npas4: In 2004 he published his second genetic discovery, isolating the gene Nxf (later renamed Npas4) using newly developed DNA microarray technology and found its association with neurological disease in collaboration with Prof. Grant Sutherland, an eminent Australian geneticist. From this research he collaborated with A/Prof. Yingxi Lin, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, USA and this led to further significant scientific contributions on the function of Npas4 in stroke and stem cell biology.

6. Dental Pulp Stem Cells (DPSC): In collaboration with Prof. Stan Granthos, who discovered DPSC in 2000, he hypothesized DPSC were a neural stem cell which he has established through published seminal discoveries demonstrating their ability to become neurons, influence neural plasticity and successfully treat a preclinical stroke model. In 2012 Mesoblast Ltd. in collaboration with the University of Adelaide patented the use of DPSC for the treatment of stroke. In 2011 his innovative research in regenerative medicine was recognised by the Leopold Dintenfass Award from the Rebecca L. Cooper Medical Research Foundation Ltd., NSW. Through his scientific and community leadership and industry interactions he proposed translating his basic stem cell research into a ‘first in human’ Phase 1 clinical trial in stroke patients using autologous DPSC in Australia. This has involved support from various groups: philanthropic organisations, the Peter Couche Foundation and Stroke SA, and industry, Mesoblast Ltd. and Boehringher-Ingelheim Corp., as well as research institutions SAHMRI and the University of Adelaide.

He has been principal or co-investigator on research grants of over $16.8 M, which includes funding from the NHMRC, ARC and various philanthropic foundations. He is an author of more than 100 refereed scientific articles, book chapters, patents and expert reports with a H index of 23 (Google Scholar) and over 2500 citations. He has been a supervisor of 57 higher degree research students (2015 figure) with a strong track record of completion on time.

His national and international profile is exemplified by invited presentations to over 80 local, national and international conferences and academic meetings. Two highlights in his career have been the plenary lecture on ‘Stem Cell Therapy in Stroke’ at the World Congress in Neurology 2011 (biannual conference) and he convened the 22nd Stroke Society of Australasia Conference in Adelaide SA in 2011. He is on the Editorial Boards of the high impact journals: International Journal of Stroke and Stem Cell Research and Therapy. He is regularly invited as an international reviewer of grant applications for the National Science Foundation (USA), Welcome Trust (UK), the Medical Research Council (UK) and medical research institutions in New Zealand. He was a member of the NHMRC Neuroscience Project Grant Review Panel from 2008 to 2012.

He has a strong track record in medical education. He developed an innovative Neurology Teaching program at the University of Adelaide, which was recognised by the Allan Kerr Grant Award for Outstanding Teacher in 2003 and the Derek Frewin Citation for Clinical Teaching in 2010 and 2011. He established and chairs the MBBS Research Committee in the medical program at the University of Adelaide, which coordinates and innovates new approaches to stimulate medical student interaction and involvement in research. He has been an active member of the MBBS Curriculum Committee since 2011.

Prof. Koblar has contributed significantly to the broader community in the field of stroke. In 2010 he helped establish the The Peter Couche Foundation, with Peter Couche and Mr Stephen Gerlach (Chancellor of Flinders University, SA), which is a philanthropic foundation having raised over $500,000 to fund innovative research in stroke. Since 2008 he has coordinated and provided media input during National Stroke Week, which has led to regular national media coverage, and increasing community awareness about stroke. He regularly provides local and national comment in the print, radio and television media on stroke related-issues.

Research Interests

Our major areas of current research are in stroke prevention, the molecular and cellular mechanisms underlying ischaemic stroke, and the translation of stroke management pathways in the clinical domain. We are currently involved in discovering a plasma protein/s which may tell the clinician when a patient is at risk of stroke following a transient ischaemic attack (TIA) so immediate treatment can be instigated. Stroke is the leading cause of adult disability and we aim to find out how to repair the brain following an ischaemic stroke. We have found that a stem cell from the tooth, Dental Pulp Stem Cell (DPSC), is able to general neurons and improve function when injected into the rodent brain following a stroke. There is a major need to understand the underlying mechanisms of stem cell therapy as different stem cells are used around the world in clinical trials. It is assumed that a neural stem cell maybe the optimum cell for therapy in the brain and so we are using molecular techniques to redirect DPSC into a neural stem cell. Finally, we research how to better translate stroke discoveries into the clinic for better patient outcomes.

 

Available Research Projects
Stroke Research Programme

Research Project 1 - FAST-IT Study – Investigation for a Plasma Biomarker for Transient Ischaemic Attack

Project description: Transient Ischaemic Attacks (TIA) result in transient neurological symptoms due to focal cerebral ischaemic and are an emergency with rapid diagnosis and treatment essential to reduce progression to a stroke. Currently, the diagnosis is very difficult and relies on clinical acumen with imaging of the brain helping to exclude a stroke. The discovery of a plasma protein which would be a biomarker for TIA would be an enormous advantage. This study will obtain patients from either the emergency department or the TIA rapid assessment clinic and document their clinical status with a blood sample taken within 48 hours of their presentation. The plasma samples will be interrogate using the latest Mass Spectrometry and proteomic tools to elucidate a protein which would be a biomarker of TIA.

Projects available for: Third Year / Honours / HDR / Masters / Mphil
Location: SAHMRI
Research project start: Semester 1 or 2
Special requirements: Nil

 

Research Project 2  - Investigation of Dental Pulp Stem Cells as a Treatment for Ischaemic Stroke

Project description: Dental Pulp Stem Cells (DPSC) are a neural/mesenchymal-type stem cell derived from the dental pulp of human molar teeth. We have demonstrated previously that DPSC are able to generate neurons in vitro and when implanted into the brain of a rat following an ischaemic stroke they have a positive impact improving disability following stroke. This research project will investigate further the neural potential of DPSC and when injected into the normal mouse brain how long the cells survive, where they migrate and what they differentiate into, whether neurons or glial cells.

Projects available for: Third Year / Honours / HDR / Masters / Mphil 
Location: SAHMRI
Research project start: Semester 1 or 2
Special requirements: Vaccination to Hepatitis B required

 

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  • Appointments

    Date Position Institution name
    2015 Senior Consultant Neurologist (Clinical Academic) Central Adelaide Local Health Network
    2015 Professor of Neurology and Neuroscience University of Adelaide
    2013 - 2014 Professor of Medicine The University of Adelaide
    2009 - 2013 Clinical Advisor – Centre for Stem Cell Research Robinson Institute, University of Adelaide
    2009 - 2012 Associate Professor of Medicine The University of Adelaide
    2000 - 2008 Team Leader – Molecular Neurobiology, ARC Centre of Excellence for the Molecular Genetics of Development University of Adelaide
    2000 - 2008 Senior Lecturer University of Adelaide
    1998 - 1999 NHMRC Peter Doherty Research Fellow University of Adelaide
    1998 - 1999 Head - Axon Guidance Laboratory University of Adelaide
    1996 - 1998 Senior Post-doctoral Fellow University of Washington
    1992 - 1996 NHMRC Post-Graduate Medical Scholarship University of Melbourne
    1990 - 1991 Clinical Research Fellow United Medical & Dental Schools of Guy's & St. Thomas's Hospitals
    1989 - 1989 Clinical Research Fellow University of Turin
  • Awards and Achievements

    Date Type Title Institution Name Country Amount
    2011 Award Leo Dintenfass Award Rebecca L Cooper Medical Research Foundation Board Australia $5,500
    1998 Achievement Certificate of Specialist Registration in Neurology Australia
    1996 Achievement Doctor of Philosophy University of Melbourne, Walter & Eliza Hall Institute of Medical Research Australia
    1991 Fellowship FRACP Royal Australian College of Physicians Australia
    1984 Achievement MBBS Flinders University of South Australia
  • Language Competencies

    Language Competency
    Italian Can read, speak and understand spoken
  • Education

    Date Institution name Country Title
    1992 - 1996 The Walter & Eliza Hall Institute of Medical Research, University of Melbourne Australia PhD
    1991 Royal Australasian College of Physicians Australia FRACP (Fellowship)
    1989 United States of America USA U.S.A. Foreign Medical Graduates - practice certificate
    1984 Flinders University of South Australia Australia BMBS
  • Postgraduate Training

    Date Title Institution Country
    1998 - 2005 Senior Visiting Specialist Neurologist Queen Elizabeth Hospital Australia
    1996 - 1997 Visiting Overseas Fellow University of Washington Medical Center United States
    1992 - 1996 Neurology Fellow Monash Medical Centre Australia
    1991 - 1991 Senior Neurology Registrar Queen Elizabeth Hospital Australia
    1990 - 1990 Neurology Registrar Guy's Hospital United Kingdom
    1988 - 1989 Advanced Physician Trainee Royal Adelaide Hospital Australia
    1985 - 1987 Basic Physician Trainee Royal Adelaide Hospital Australia
    1984 - 1984 Internship Royal Adelaide Hospital Australia
  • Certifications

    Date Title Institution name Country
    1998 Certificate of Specialist Registration in Neurolog Australian Government Australia
    1989 U.S.A. Foreign Medical Graduates - practice certif Educational Commission for Foreign Medical Graduates United States
  • Research Interests

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  • Current Higher Degree by Research Supervision (University of Adelaide)

    Date Role Research Topic Program Degree Type Student Load Student Name
    2016 Principal Supervisor Induced Neural Stem Cells from a Human Neural Crest-derived Stem/Progenitor Cell Population Doctor of Philosophy Doctorate Full Time Miss Maria Roumenova Gancheva
    2015 Co-Supervisor Improving Functioning for People with Neurological Health Conditions Doctor of Philosophy Doctorate Part Time Dr Anupam Datta Gupta
  • Past Higher Degree by Research Supervision (University of Adelaide)

    Date Role Research Topic Program Degree Type Student Load Student Name
    2015 - 2019 Principal Supervisor Exploring Determinants of Execution in Early Phase Clinical Studies with Cell Therapies in Stroke Doctor of Philosophy Doctorate Full Time Dr Anjali Nagpal
    2013 - 2018 Principal Supervisor Molecular and Cellular Investigations Relating to Neuroplasticity in Stroke Doctor of Philosophy Doctorate Full Time Mr Joshua Nathan Winderlich
    2012 - 2014 Principal Supervisor Investigation of p75 neurotrophin receptor on human Dental Pulp Stem Cells (hDPSC) Master of Medical Science Master Full Time Miss Wenru Pan
    2012 - 2015 Co-Supervisor The Role of Npas4 in Neuroprotection and Neurogenesis Doctor of Philosophy Doctorate Full Time Mr Fong Chan Choy
    2010 - 2014 Co-Supervisor Neurophysiology and Electrophysiology of Human and Murine Dental Pulp Stem Cells Doctor of Philosophy Doctorate Full Time Miss Kylie Maree Ellis
    2009 - 2015 Principal Supervisor Transient Ischaemic Attack: A Primary Care Perspective of Stroke Prevention Doctor of Philosophy Doctorate Part Time Dr Elaine Leung
    2009 - 2017 Principal Supervisor Proteomic Investigations and Biomarker Discovery in Transient Ischaemic Attack Doctor of Philosophy Doctorate Full Time Mr Michael Djukic
    2009 - 2012 Principal Supervisor Stem Cell and Molecular Investigations Following Focal Cerebral Ischemia Doctor of Philosophy Doctorate Full Time Miss Wai Khay Leong
    2008 - 2014 Co-Supervisor Expression and functional analysis of SOX3 in murine neurogenesis Doctor of Philosophy Doctorate Full Time Mr Nicholas Alan Rogers
    2006 - 2012 Principal Supervisor Expression and Function of Npas4 During Early Development Doctor of Philosophy Doctorate Full Time Dr Tom Klaric
    2006 - 2011 Co-Supervisor Identification of Downstream Target Genes and Analysis of Obesity-Related Variants of the bHLH/PAS Transcription Factor Single-Minded 1 Doctor of Philosophy Doctorate Full Time Miss Anne Raimondo
    2006 - 2010 Co-Supervisor Endothelial Function & Genetic Polymorphisms in Cerebral Small Vessel Disease Doctor of Philosophy Doctorate Full Time Miss Ada Lam
    2005 - 2008 Co-Supervisor Analysis of Genes Implicated in Alzheimer's Disease Pathogenesis Using Danio Rerio as a Model Organism Doctor of Philosophy Doctorate Full Time Ms Morgan Newman
    2003 - 2007 Principal Supervisor Guidance and Neuronal Properties of Dental Pulp Stem Cells Doctor of Philosophy Doctorate Full Time Ms Agnes Arthur
    2003 - 2007 Co-Supervisor The Contribution of Periodontal Mechanoreceptors to Physiological Tremor in the Human Jaw Doctor of Philosophy Doctorate Full Time Mr Paul Sowman
    2002 - 2011 Co-Supervisor An Investigation into the Development and Patterning of Dorsal Longitudinal Ascending Interneurons in Danio Rerio Doctor of Philosophy Doctorate Full Time Dr Simon Wells
    2002 - 2005 Principal Supervisor Investigating the Role of EphA/ ephrin-A Signalling During Trigeminal Ganglion Axon Guidance Doctor of Philosophy Doctorate Full Time Ms Chathurani Jayasena
    2002 - 2006 Co-Supervisor The Pathophysiology of the Coronary Slow Flow Phenomenon Doctor of Philosophy Doctorate Full Time Dr Stuart Turner
    2000 - 2005 Principal Supervisor EphA4 and ephrin-A interactions in avian neural crest cell segmentation Doctor of Philosophy Doctorate Full Time Dr Edwina Sutton
    2000 - 2004 Principal Supervisor Polygenic Disease: A Study of Genetic Risk in an Australian Stroke Population Doctor of Philosophy Doctorate Full Time APrf Jim Jannes
    1999 - 2003 Co-Supervisor MOLECULAR CHARACTERISATION OF TRANSLOCATIONS INVOLVING CHROMOSOME BAND 1p36 IN ACUTE MYELOID LEUKAEMIA Doctor of Philosophy Doctorate Full Time Mr Christopher Ian Slape
    1998 - 2003 Principal Supervisor Investigations of ephrin ligands during development Doctor of Philosophy Doctorate Full Time Mr Paul Tosch
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  • Board Memberships

    Date Role Board name Institution name Country
    2005 - 2008 Board Member Brain Foundation (SA) Ltd
  • Committee Memberships

    Date Role Committee Institution Country
    2016 - ongoing Member National Stroke Foundation Research Advisory Committee
    2012 - ongoing Board Member University of Adelaide Medical School MBBS Research Committee University of Adelaide
    2011 - ongoing Member University of Adelaide Medical School Curriculum Committee University of Adelaide
    2011 - ongoing Member National Stroke Foundation Clinical Council National Stroke Foundation Australia
    2010 - ongoing Chair Stroke SA Network TIA Workgroup Stroke SA Network Australia
    2009 - ongoing Member Stroke SA Network Steering Committee Stroke SA Network
    2006 - ongoing Chair Nervous System Review Group (Faculty of Health Science) University of Adelaide
    2001 - 2003 Member South Australian Italian Medical Association Committee
    2000 - 2001 Board Member Curriculum Committee, Faculty of Health Science University of Adelaide
  • Memberships

    Date Role Membership Country
    2009 - ongoing Member Stroke Society of Australasia
    2006 - 2009 Chair South Australian Stroke Unit Network
    2003 - 2003 President Cairns Neurological Society (SA)
    2001 - 2003 Secretary Cairns Neurological Society (SA)
    2000 - 2000 Treasurer Cairns Neurological Society (SA)
    1998 - ongoing Member South Australian Italian Medical Association
    1998 - ongoing Member Cairns Neurological Society (SA)
    1998 - ongoing Member Mortality Review Committee, The Queen Elizabeth Hospital Australia
    1997 - ongoing Member Society for Neuroscience United States
    1992 - ongoing Member Australian Neuroscience Society
    1991 - ongoing Member Australian and New Zealand Association Neurology
  • Consulting/Advisories

    Date Institution Department Organisation Type Country
    2016 - 2016 THERAPEUTIC GOODS ADMINISTRATION Stroke Research Programme, University of Adelaide, Adelaide, South Australia
    2016 - 2016 Scientific Methods (Nature Publishing Group) (Impact Factor 5.288)
    2016 - ongoing International Journal of Stroke, the official journal of the World Stroke Organization; impact factor 4.3 (2014 Thomson Reuters) Scientific research
    2016 - 2016 a Hindawi Press journal, impact factor 2.813 (2014 Thomson Reuters) Stem Cells International
    2016 - 2016 World Stroke Organisation
    2010 - ongoing University of Adelaide Peter Couche Foundation Australia
    2008 - ongoing University of Adelaide Adelaide Centre for Neuroscience Research Australia
    2008 - 2012 National Health & Medical Research Council
    2007 - 2011 Queen Elizabeth Hospital Basil Hetzel Institute Australia
    2006 - ongoing University of Adelaide Centre Stem Cell Research, Robinson Institute Australia
    2006 - 2009 Australian Stroke Unit Network
    2006 - ongoing University of Adelaide Mt Lofty Workshop ‘Frontier Technologies for Nervous System Function and Repair’ Australia
    2005 - ongoing South Australian Neuroscience Institute Australia
    2005 - ongoing University of Adelaide Computational Neuroscience Research Cluster Australia
    2005 - 2010 Research Network in Genes and Environment in Development Australia
    2003 - 2005 SA Health and Medical Research Advisory Council
    2000 - ongoing University of Adelaide Adelaide Microarray Facility Australia
    2000 - 2001 University of Adelaide Faculty of Health Science Australia
    1998 - 1998 Australian and New Zealand Society for Cell & Developmental Biology Australia
  • Editorial Boards

    Date Role Editorial Board Name Institution Country
    2013 - ongoing Board Member Stem Cell Research and Therapy
    2010 - ongoing Board Member International Journal of Stroke
  • Offices Held

    Date Office Name Institution Country
    2008 - ongoing Patron Stroke SA Ltd. Australia
  • Position: Professor
  • Email: simon.koblar@adelaide.edu.au
  • Campus: The Queen Elizabeth Hospital
  • Building: QEH - Main Bldg, floor 5
  • Room: 5 B
  • Org Unit: Medicine

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