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  • Group Leader, IMB Kidney Research Laboratory, Institute for Molecular Bioscience, The University of Queensland
  • NHMRC Principal Research Fellow

Research interests

The prevalence of Chronic Kidney Disease is climbing at 6-8% per annum with diabetic nephropathy now the leading cause of chronic kidney disease in most developed nations and some developing nations. Despite this, treatment options remain restricted to transplantation and dialysis. Professor Little'sresearch laboratory focuses on the development of alternative therapeutic options through advanced understanding of the normal processes of kidney development, injury and repair. The kidney is not regarded as a highly regenerative organ. Indeed, the functional filtration units of the kidney are all formed by the time you reach birth. Hence, research is focussed on a number of approaches. The first is to investigate adult kidney mesenchymal stem cell populations so as to investigate what role these cells play in regulating normal responses to injury and how they might be able to improve repair. The other approach is to look at directed differentiation of ES/iPS cells or reprogramming of adult cells to the nephron stem cell state of the developing kidney, from where the hope is to be able to generate new nephrons.


  1. Pelekanos R, Gongora M, Li J, Chandrakanthan V, Suhaimi N, Scown J, Brooke G, Christensen ME, Rice A, Osborne G, Grimmond SM, Harvey RP, Atkinson K, Little MH,. Comprehensive transcriptome and immunophenotype analysis of renal and cardiac MSC-like populations supports strong congruence with bone marrow MSC despite maintenance of distinct identities. Stem Cell Research (In Press, accepted August 2011)
  2. Lin SA, Kolle G, Grimmond SM, Zhou G, Doust E, Little MH, Aronow B, Ricardo S, Pera MF, Bertram JF, Laslett AL. Subfractionation of differentiating hES populations allows the isolation of a mesodermal population enriched for intermediate mesoderm and renal progenitors. (2010) Stem Cells and Development 19(10):1637-48
  3. Lusis M, Li J, Ineson J, Li J, Little MH. Isolation and culture of metanephric mesenchyme-derived nephrospheres reinforces evidence that embryonic renal progenitors are multipotent and exhaust during cessation of nephron formation. (2010) Stem Cell Research 5(1):23-39
  4. Little MH and Challen GA. Potential of the side population in regenerative nephrology. Book Chapter. Regenerative Nephrology. (commissioned book chapter) (2010) pp173-188
  5. Hendry C, Rumballe BA, Moritz K, Little MH. Defining and redefining the nephron progenitor population. (2011) Pediatric Nephrology 26(9):1395-406
  6. Hopkins C, Li J, Rae F, Little MH. Stem cell options for kidney disease.J. Pathology (2009) 217(2):265-81
  7. Challen GA, Ivan Bertoncello I, Deane J, Ricardo S & Little MH. Kidney side population cells represent a non-haematopoietic but heterogeneous population with multilineage and renal potential. (2006) J. Amer. Society Nephrol. 17(7):1896-912.
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