induced, reprogramming, partial, ES, pluripotent, embryo, profiling, bioinformatic, somatic
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  • Research Scientist & Team Leader, Laslett Stem Cell Group, CSIRO Materials and Science Engineering, CSIRO

Research interests

Dr O'Brien joined CSIRO in November 2009 as a deputy team leader in Dr Andrew Laslett’s human pluripotent stem cell biology research group. The focus of the group’s research is to validate and exploit the properties of human pluripotent stem cells derived from both embryos and reprogrammed somatic cells (iPS). While the characteristics of hPSCs make them potential sources of material for a wide range of clinical applications, they also pose potential risks from uncontrolled self-renewal and off-target cellular differentation.

The Laslett research group has developed a FACS-based immunotranscriptional profiling system for identifying and isolating human pluripotent stem cells (hPSCs) that express high levels of the cell surface antigens CD9 and GCTM-2. This profiling system identifes a refined genetic signature for both human ES and somatic cells reprogrammed to human iPS cells and provides a detailed understanding of the earliest events in human pluripotent stem cell differentiation. The group is using these methodologies and information to generate antibodies to novel epitopes on live hPSCs and using them to develop efficient and scaleable methods to produce highly enriched populations of live hPSCs that can be used as inputs for differentiation protocols and to remove residual pluripotent cells from target populations after differentiation. Also being developed are hPSC reporter lines that switch off more rapidyly that OCT4 or NANOG for use in hPSC maintenance assays and bioreactor beta-testing. As well, the reprogramming group is currently focused on generating iPS cell lines relevant for disease modelling studies and further, are exploring the observation that some human iPS cell lines display an intrinsic propensity to revert to pluripotency following spontaneous and directed differentiation in vitro.

Prior to joining CSIRO Dr O'Brien was a Senior Scientist and Program Manager with the biotechnology company Stem Cell Sciences Ltd., and a Senior Embryologist with Melbourne IVF, Monash IVF and the Mercy Hospital for Women.


  1. O’Brien, C., Lambshead, J., Chy, H., Zhou, G., Laslett, A.L.. 2nd Edition, Human Stem Cell Manual: A Laboratory Guide. Flow cytometry of human pluripotent stem cells. Eds J.F. Loring & S.E. Petersen. Elsevier publications (Invited chapter submitted July 2011). (COB and JL are co first-authors).
  2. Hook, L., O’Brien, C., Allsopp, T. (2005). ES cell technology: An introduction to genetic manipulation, differentiation and therapeutic cloning. Adv. Drug Deliv. Rev., 57(13), 1904-1917.
  3. Munsie, M.J., O’Brien, C.M., and Mountford, P.S. (2002). Transgenic strategy for demonstrating nuclear transfer in the mouse. Cloning and Stem Cells, 4(2), 121-130.
  4. Munsie, M.J., Michalska, A.E., O’Brien, C.M., Trounson, A.O. and Mountford, P.S. (2000). Isolation ofpluripotent embryonic stem cells from reprogrammed adult somatic cell nuclei. Curr. Biol., 10, 989-992.
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