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Darling Rojas-Canales

Senior Scientist, University of Adelaide

I first completed my honours degree at Flinders University of South Australia in 2006 as part of a Bachelor of Biotechnology program. My interest in the area of Transplantation Immunology began during my honours year, which focused on the role of RelB and its regulation of dendritic cell (DC) maturation. I went on to complete my Ph.D under the principal supervision of Professor Dr. Toby Coates (Ph.D, M.D). My thesis examined the immuno-modulatory role of IFN-gamma in DC based therapies and the genetic modification of human islets for the prevention of islet allograft rejection. I was awarded my Ph.D in 2011 from the University of Adelaide, Department of Medicine. In the same year I was awarded the International Thomas E. Starzl Postdoctoral Fellowship in Transplantation Biology at the University of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, USA. During my fellowship I was mentored by Dr. Adrian Morelli (Ph.D, M.D), where my work focused on examining the pro-inflammatory role of the nervous system in allo-immunity. Specifically we focused on the function of Neurokinin-1 Receptor in skin allograft rejection. This work was done in collaboration with Associate Professor Adriana Larregina (Ph.D, M.D) from the Department of Dermatology at the University of Pittsburgh. I then returned to Adelaide and undertook my second post-doctoral position with Professor Patrick T. Coates at the University of Adelaide and Royal Adelaide Hospital. Here my work focused on improving islet graft survival post transplantation with the use of biomaterials, genetic modification and stem cells. I have recently been appointed as Hospital Scientist at the Renal Unit of Flinders Medical Centre, where my research focus continues into translational therapies for the treatment of diabetes and renal disease.