Dr Nathan Palpant

Senior Research Fellow - GL

Institute for Molecular Bioscience
+61 7 334 62054


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.


  • Doctor of Philosophy, University of Michigan


  • Neidig, Lauren E., Weinberger, Florian, Palpant, Nathan J., Mignone, John, Martinson, Amy M., Sorensen, Daniel W., Bender, Ingrid, Nemoto, Natsumi, Reinecke, Hans, Pabon, Lil, Molkentin, Jeffery D., Murry, Charles E. and van Berlo, Jop H. (2018) Evidence for minimal cardiogenic potential of stem cell sntigen 1-positive cells in the adult mouse heart. Circulation, 138 25: 2960-2962. doi:10.1161/CIRCULATIONAHA.118.035273

  • Friedman, Clayton E., Nguyen, Quan, Lukowski, Samuel W., Helfer, Abbigail, Chiu, Han Sheng, Miklas, Jason, Levy, Shiri, Suo, Shengbao, Han, Jing-Dong Jackie, Osteil, Pierre, Peng, Guangdun, Jing, Naihe, Baillie, Greg J., Senabouth, Anne, Christ, Angelika N., Bruxner, Timothy J., Murry, Charles E., Wong, Emily S., Ding, Jun, Wang, Yuliang, Hudson, James, Ruohola-Baker, Hannele, Bar-Joseph, Ziv, Tam, Patrick P.L., Powell, Joseph E. and Palpant, Nathan J. (2018) Single-cell transcriptomic analysis of cardiac differentiation from human PSCs reveals HOPX-dependent cardiomyocyte maturation. Cell Stem Cell, 23 4: 586-598. doi:10.1016/j.stem.2018.09.009

  • Vagnozzi, Ronald J., Sargent, Michelle A., Lin, Suh-Chin J., Palpant, Nathan J., Murry, Charles E. and Molkentin, Jeffery D. (2018) Genetic lineage tracing of Sca-1 cells reveals endothelial but not myogenic contribution to the murine heart. Circulation, CIRCULATIONAHA.118.035210. doi:10.1161/CIRCULATIONAHA.118.035210

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  • Doctor Philosophy

  • Doctor Philosophy

  • Doctor Philosophy

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Available Projects

View all Available Projects



Book Chapter

Journal Article

Conference Publication

PhD and MPhil Supervision

Current Supervision

  • Doctor Philosophy — Principal Advisor

  • Doctor Philosophy — Principal Advisor

  • Doctor Philosophy — Principal Advisor

  • Doctor Philosophy — Associate Advisor

  • Doctor Philosophy — Associate Advisor

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.