Researcher

Dr Shafagh Waters

Keywords

Fields of Research (FoR)

Paediatrics, Epigenetics (incl. Genome Methylation and Epigenomics), Gene and Molecular Therapy, Regenerative Medicine (incl. Stem Cells and Tissue Engineering), Respiratory Diseases, Infectious Diseases

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Biography

Dr Water’s (nee Al Nadaf) PhD was completed in comparative genomics and epigenetics from the Australian National University in 2012 under the supervision of one of Australia’s most successful and high-profile scientist, Professor Jenny Graves (the 2017 Prime Minister’s Prize for Science winner). Dr Waters recently established (and runs) the molecular integrative Cystic Fibrosis (miCF) Research Lab at UNSW Sydney, Australia. The lab is...view more

Dr Water’s (nee Al Nadaf) PhD was completed in comparative genomics and epigenetics from the Australian National University in 2012 under the supervision of one of Australia’s most successful and high-profile scientist, Professor Jenny Graves (the 2017 Prime Minister’s Prize for Science winner). Dr Waters recently established (and runs) the molecular integrative Cystic Fibrosis (miCF) Research Lab at UNSW Sydney, Australia. The lab is the molecular node of the miCF Research Centre (Sydney Children’s Hospital), which was established as a collaborative effort between researchers, and clinicians. Dr Waters’ research aims to understand epithelial developmental and the role aberrant epigenetic processes play in progression and pathophysiology of disease. She has created the first Australian biobank (miCF AVATAR biobank) of stem cell derived airway and gut organoids. To date, her team have created primary stem cell models from over 200 CF patients from 11 CF clinics around Australia and Healthy donors. She has created a multi-analyte platform of in silico molecular dynamics simulations, in vitro CFTR functional assays and an array of ‘omics technologies’. Her group are applying this platform to provide personalized molecular phenotyping, drug screening, cell therapy and host-pathogen interactions for CF patients. In 2020, the latter (co-culture airway organoid with pathogens) was pivoted to COVID-19 to delineate the innate immune response to SARS-CoV2 infection.

 

 

 

 


My Grants

Scheme: Ideas Grants
Funding agency: National Health & Medical Research Council 
Grant name: Towards Personalised Cystic Fibrosis Medicine: Functional characterisation and targeted therapies for rare CF Transmembrane Regulator (CFTR) mutations using patient-derived organoids
Role: CIA, UNSW Grant number: RG191611 Start date: 1 January 2020

Scheme: 2019 Gene Therapy Innovation Grant
Funding agency: Cystic Fibrosis Community Care 
Grant name: Nanoparticle nanoparticle gene addition therapy in primary differentiated CF airway cell models.
Role: Sole CI, UNSW Grant number: RG194254 Start date: 1 January 2020

Scheme: Orphan Disease Center Million Dollar Bike Ride Grant Program
Funding agency: Penn Medicine Orphan Disease Centre | University of Adelaide  
Grant name: Airway Cell Therapy for Cystic Fibrosis Nonsense Mutations
Role: co-CI, UNSW Grant number: RG192792 Start date: 1 June 2019

Scheme: DAVID MILLAR GILES INNOVATION GRANT
Funding agency: CYSTIC FIBROSIS AUSTRALIA
Grant name: an australian alliance of personalised lab grown mini-organs to save the rarest of them all
Role: Sole CI, UNSW Grant number: RG191126 Start date: 1 August 2019
 

Scheme: TSANZ VERTEX PAEDIATRIC CYSTIC FIBROSIS AWARD
Funding agency: THORACIC SOCIETY OF AUSTRALIA AND NEW ZEALAND (TSANZ)
Grant name: a novel compound for cystic fibrosis therapy, targeting proteostasis network.
Role: Sole CI, UNSW Grant number: RG192793 Start date: 17 July 2019

Scheme: NSW HEALTH PAEDIATRIC PRECISION MEDICINE SHARED GRANT
Funding agency: PAEDIATRIO LIMITED
Grant name: ppm 1: centralized capacity to develop functional genomics for paediatric precision medicine
Role: CIB, UNSW Grant number: RG192369, Start date: 1 June 2019

Scheme: REBECCA L. COOPER MEDICAL PROJECT GRANTS
Funding agency: REBECCA L. COOPER MEDICAL RESEARCH FOUNDATION
Grant name: personalised lab grown mini-lungs to predict effect of therapies in patients with cystic fibrosis
Role: Sole CI, UNSW Grant number: RG182229, Start date: 1 January 2019

Scheme: CONTRACT RESEARCH
Funding agency: PAEDIATRIO LIMITED
Grant name: microscope funding for drug discovery and efficacy testing
Role: CIB, UNSW Grant number: RG182726, Start date: 24 October 2018

Scheme: VERTEX INNOVATION AWARDS
Funding agency: VERTEX PHARMACEUTICALS (CH)
Grant name: exo-cf; exosomal biomarkers for early prediction of cystic fibrosis related diabetes (cfrd)
Role: CIA, UNSW Grant number: RG181847, Start date: 22 March 2019

Scheme: ACFRT INNOVATION GRANT
Funding agency: CYSTIC FIBROSIS RESEARCH LIMITED QLD
Grant name: Rna therapeutics: novel paradigm in mutation independent cf therapy
Role: CIA, UNSW Grant number: RG173352, Start date: 5 March 2018

Scheme: BOOSTING BUSINESS INNOVATION PROGRAM
Funding agency: NSW DEPARTMENT OF INDUSTRY
Grant name: in vitro investigation of the potential efficacy of thiols to treat cystic fibrosis - techvoucher
Role: CIA, UNSW Grant number: RG161881-T Start date: 23 June 2018

Scheme: CONTRACT RESEARCH
Funding agency: BIOSPECIALTIES AUSTRALIA PTY LTD
Grant name: in vitro investigation of the potential efficacy of thiols to treat cystic fibrosis
Role: CIA, UNSW Grant number: RG181150, Start date: 4 June 2018


My Qualifications

PhD, Australian National University

MSc (Distinction), University of Otago, New Zealand 

BSc, The University of Auckland, New Zealand

 


My Awards

Awards

Best EMCR Poster Award

Australian Academy of Science | AU-China Precision Medicine Symposium

2019

EMCR Travel Award

Australian Academy of Science | AU-China Precision Medicine Symposium

2019

Travel Award

Australian Academy of Science | Science at the Shine Dome Early-and Mid-Career Researchers Program

2018

Finalist

Annual Quality and Innovation Awards | The Sydney Children’s Hospital Network

2018

Travel Award

SIDRA Functional Genomics Towards Precision Medicine Symposium. Doha Qatar

2017

Travel Award

Vice-Chancellor's HDR | Australian National University (ANU)

2012

Best PhD Candidate Talk Award

Genetics Society of Australasia Conference 2010

2010

Travel Award

University of Otago, New Zealand

2008

Best Poster Presentation Award

Molecular Basis of Cancer and Development Meeting 2007

2007

 

Fellowships

Bridging Fellowship

 UNSW, Australia

2020- 2023

Visiting Scientist Fellowship

City of Hope Medical Centre for Gene Therapy, USA

March-2016

Visiting Researcher ECFS Fellowship

University of Lisbon (ULisboa), Portugal

June-2016

PhD Scholarship

Australian National University (ANU)

2008

PhD Supplementary Scholarship

Australian National University (ANU)

2008

Summer Research Fellowship

Australian National University (ANU) | Graves Lab

2007

Summer Research Fellowship

University of Otago, New Zealand | Markie Lab

2006

 

Memberships

UNSW Australian Centre for NanoMedicine (ACN

2021

Australian Living Organoid Alliance (ALOA)

2020

The Thoracic Society of Australia and New Zealand (TSANZ)

2018

Early- & Mid – Career Research Forum, Australian Academy of Science

2018

Australian Society for Medical Research

2017

Women in Research Network member, UNSW

2017

Genetic Society of AustralAsia (GSA)

2012


My Research Activities

My current research has a strong translational focus in three key areas of

(i) stem cell biology involving disease modeling

(ii) prognostic and diagnostic exosomal biomarker discovery for CF related diabetes,

(iii) CFTR restoring therapeutics in patient derived organoids using a variety of delivery approaches including viral and nanoformulations.

(iv) host-pathogen interactions for viral and bacterial infections.


My Research Supervision


Areas of supervision

Shafagh is interested in supervising both Honours and HDR (Masters and PhD) students in the areas of personalised medicine and Respiratory disease. If you are interested, please contact her via email describing why you would like to undertake a degree in her lab and providing your results from the UNSW HDR Self-Assessment Tool (applicable only to Masters and PhD candidates).


Currently supervising

PhD student (July 2016- current)

Hons 


My Engagement

Memberships

 

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Location

The School of Medical Sciences is located in the Wallace Wurth Building (upper campus of UNSW) which is accessible via Gate 9, High Street, Randwick.

Contact

+61 (2)93856961

Videos

It's a genetic disease which requires constant treatment and shortens the lives of those affected.

But there's new hope for kids with cystic fibrosis, doctors now testing personalised treatment on miniature organs, grown using the patient's own cells.
We're doing a survey about emerging technologies that use a person's cells to predict how they will respond to certain medications. Like to join in?

When it comes to medication, everyone responds to drugs differently. New technologies in medicine are making it possible to develop truly personalised care for people with serious, chronic and life-limiting disease.This short video is part of a research survey with UNSW that asks people about their perspectives on the new technologies that may be available in the near future.

If you wish to participate in this survey, please watch the video describing the new "avatar" technology and fill out the following questionnaire, which will take about 10 minutes to complete. These technologies are not available to the public but are available as a research pipeline in some laboratories.
New treatment giving hope to kids with cystic fibrosis | Nine News Australia
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Avatar acceptability survey