Dr Nathan Palpant

Senior Research Fellow - GL

Institute for Molecular Bioscience
n.palpant@uq.edu.au
+61 7 334 62054

Overview

Dr Nathan Palpant completed a BSc in Biology (magna cum laude) from Whitworth University in 2001 and a PhD in Molecular and Integrative Physiology from the University of Michigan in 2009. He then completed a postdoctoral fellowship at the University of Washington Institute for Stem Cell and Regenerative Medicine in 2015 studying the genetic and signaling basis of lineage decisions in cardiovascular development. In 2015 he was recruited as Group Leader at the University of Queensland’s Institute for Molecular Bioscience where he now heads the Stem Cell and Cardiovascular Development Laboratory. His laboratory focuses on mechanisms underlying mesoderm cell lineage decisions using human pluripotent stem cells, genomics, genome engineering, and bioengineering.

Research Interests

  • The Genetic Basis of Cardiovascular Development
    The mechanisms by which cells navigate developmental pathways into specific tissues requires the complex orchestration of transcriptional changes that ultimately give rise to the functional identity of a cell. My lab focuses on studying novel genetic regulators governing the identity of cells in the cardiovascular system. Understanding the genetics of cell identity is an essential part of learning how to manipulate cell states. We can use this knowledge to enhance tissue regenerative approaches, learn how to enrich cell subtypes from stem cells, and study the basis of developmental diseases.
  • Chromatin Dynamics Underlying Cell Identity Genes
    Differential methylation and acetylation at specific amino acid residues on histones has emerged as a central mechanism for identifying functionally distinct parts of the genome including promoters, enhancers, open/closed regions of the genome, transcriptionally active DNA and more. My lab studies chromatin dynamics in cardiovascular development as a means to understand how changes in the nucleus translate to changes in cell fate and use unbiased bioinformatics algorithms that analyze chromatin states to identify genes governing cell identity.
  • Methodological Advances in Stem Cell Differentiation Protocols
    Developmental biology has formed the groundwork for defining differentiation protocols from pluripotency. Efficient differentiation protocols are required to generate the diverse array of cell types represented in the body either for therapeutic purposes or to understand the basis of complex tissue formation and disease etiology. My lab uses computational approaches in combination with insights from developmental biology to identify simple and efficient methods for deriving cardiovascular cell lineages from pluripotency. One major issue in the field currently is the derivation of cell subtypes (e.g. atrial vs ventricular heart cells or endocardial vs hemogenic endothelium) which is a key area of focus in my lab.
  • Stem Cells in Cardio-respiratory Critical Care
    According to current global burden of disease metrics, cardiovascular diseases contribute to 22% of deaths in Australia and costs our healthcare systems in excess of $1 billion pa. In collaboration with Prof John Fraser who heads up the Critical Care Research Group at the Prince Charles Hospital, we are establishing a program to elucidate new knowledge about cardio-respiratory diseases, develop novel point-of-care diagnostics, and advance new therapeutics involving stem cells and mechanical assist devices.

Research Impacts

Dr Palpant's research has received international attention through publications in high impact journals, invited presentations, and media releases.

Most recently, his team in collaboration with Joseph Powell's group (Garvan Institute) unraveled the basis of cardiac cell differentiation at single cell resolution revealing more than 750 million data points of RNA expression to help us understand heart development and disease (Cell Stem Cell, 2018).

Using genome engineering he has made substantial contributions to the field through development of widely implement and novel stem cell tools (Nature 2014 and 2012, and PLoS One 2012) and protocols (Nature Protocols, 2016). He has contributed commentaries and reviews on significant advancements in the field in journals including Cell (2014), Journal of the American College of Cardiology (2013), Gene Therapy (2013), and Nature (2012).

He received the International Society for Heart Research Young Investigator Award in 2015.

Qualifications

  • Doctor of Philosophy, University of Michigan

Publications

  • Shim, Woo Jun, Sinniah, Enakshi, Xu, Jun, Vitrinel, Burcu, Alexanian, Michael, Andreoletti, Gaia, Shen, Sophie, Sun, Yuliangzi, Balderson, Brad, Boix, Carles, Peng, Guangdun, Jing, Naihe, Wang, Yuliang, Kellis, Manolis, Tam, Patrick P L, Smith, Aaron, Piper, Michael, Christiaen, Lionel, Nguyen, Quan, Bodén, Mikael and Palpant, Nathan J. (2020). Conserved epigenetic regulatory logic infers genes governing cell identity. Cell Systems, 11 (6), 625-639.e13. doi: 10.1016/j.cels.2020.11.001

  • Millar, Jonathan E., Bartnikowski, Nicole, Passmore, Margaret R., Obonyo, Nchafatso G, Malfertheiner, Maximillian V., von Bahr, Viktor, Redd, Meredith A., See Hoe, Louise, Ki, Katrina K., Pedersen, Sanne, Boyle, Andrew J., Baillie, J Kenneth, Shekar, Kiran, Palpant, Nathan, Suen, Jacky Y., Matthay, Michael A., McAuley, Daniel F., Fraser, John F. and Combining Extracorporeal Life Support and Cell Therapy in Critical Illness (CELTIC) investigators (2020). Combined mesenchymal stromal cell therapy and ECMO in ARDS: a controlled experimental study in sheep. American Journal of Respiratory and Critical Care Medicine, 202 (3) rccm.201911-2143OC, 383-392. doi: 10.1164/rccm.201911-2143oc

  • Redd, M. A., Scheuer, S. E., Saez, N. J., Macdonald, P. S., Palpant, N. J. and King, G. F. (2020). A spider-venom peptide for preventing ischemic injuries of the heart: application to heart transplant and myocardial infarction. Venom Week, Gainesville, FL, United States, 4-7 March, 2020. Oxford, United Kingdom : Elsevier.

View all Publications

Supervision

  • Doctor Philosophy

  • Doctor Philosophy

  • Doctor Philosophy

View all Supervision

Available Projects

  • As outlined in the research interests of my lab, there are numerous projects available for students covering a range of topics. These projects are continuously changing. The following areas cover topics I use to develop projects for incoming students:

    - Use stem cells, genome engineering, and single cell RNA-sequencing to study how cells differentiate into cell types of the heart

    - Modify stem cells to generate cells with custom engineered functions to create synthetic cell states

    - Use bioinformatics approaches to analyse large scale genomic data to study what features of the genome control cell decisions

    - Study novel genes that control how heart cells respond to stress like ischemia and work with chemists to develop novel drugs that could be used to treat patients who have heart attacks

    - Use computational genomics and cell biology approaches to study how the heart adapts to extreme environments (like high altitude) to learn what genes control stress responses in cells.

    - Study the biology of how venoms of marine and terrestrial species impact heart function using cells, whole organ models, and animal models.

    Contact me for a discussion about current opportunities and specific projects available.

View all Available Projects

Publications

Book

Book Chapter

  • Zhu, Wei-Zhong, Filice, Dominic, Palpant, Nathan J. and Laflamme, Michael A. (2014). Methods for assessing the electromechanical integration of human pluripotent stem cell-derived cardiomyocyte grafts. Cardiac tissue engineering: methods and protocols. (pp. 229-247) edited by Radisci, Milica and Black III, Lauren D.. New York, NY United States: Springer New York. doi: 10.1007/978-1-4939-1047-2_20

  • Palpant, Nathan J. and Holland, Suzanne (2013). Human dignity and the debate over early human embryos. Human dignity in bioethics: from worldviews to the public square. (pp. 239-263) New York, NY, United States: Routledge. doi: 10.4324/9780203075005

  • Dilley, Stephen and Palpant, Nathan J. (2013). Human dignity in the throes?: An introduction to the volume. Human Dignity in Bioethics: From Worldviews to the Public Square. (pp. 3-18) New York, NY United States: Taylor and Francis. doi: 10.4324/9780203075005

Journal Article

Conference Publication

Grants (Administered at UQ)

PhD and MPhil Supervision

Current Supervision

  • Doctor Philosophy — Principal Advisor

    Other advisors:

  • Doctor Philosophy — Principal Advisor

  • Doctor Philosophy — Principal Advisor

    Other advisors:

  • Doctor Philosophy — Principal Advisor

    Other advisors:

  • Doctor Philosophy — Associate Advisor

  • Doctor Philosophy — Associate Advisor

  • Doctor Philosophy — Associate Advisor

    Other advisors:

  • Doctor Philosophy — Associate Advisor

    Other advisors:

Completed Supervision

Possible Research Projects

Note for students: The possible research projects listed on this page may not be comprehensive or up to date. Always feel free to contact the staff for more information, and also with your own research ideas.

  • As outlined in the research interests of my lab, there are numerous projects available for students covering a range of topics. These projects are continuously changing. The following areas cover topics I use to develop projects for incoming students:

    - Use stem cells, genome engineering, and single cell RNA-sequencing to study how cells differentiate into cell types of the heart

    - Modify stem cells to generate cells with custom engineered functions to create synthetic cell states

    - Use bioinformatics approaches to analyse large scale genomic data to study what features of the genome control cell decisions

    - Study novel genes that control how heart cells respond to stress like ischemia and work with chemists to develop novel drugs that could be used to treat patients who have heart attacks

    - Use computational genomics and cell biology approaches to study how the heart adapts to extreme environments (like high altitude) to learn what genes control stress responses in cells.

    - Study the biology of how venoms of marine and terrestrial species impact heart function using cells, whole organ models, and animal models.

    Contact me for a discussion about current opportunities and specific projects available.