About Associate Professor Aaron Schindeler

A/Prof Schindeler has a diverse range of research interests across the fields of medicine, health, and engineering focused on bone and musculoskeletal tissues. Key areas where postgraduate project opportunities exist include functional genomics, gene therapy, bone antimicrobials and phage therapy. In addition, A/Prof is involved with a range of other collaborative projects involved with nutraceuticals (including carnitine for metabolic myopathies, vitamin D deficiency, and smart probiotics), Neurofibromatosis type I research, orthopaedic implant design, bisphosphonate therapy, bioceramic bone graft substitutes, and clinical bone research.

A/Prof Schindeler is currently pursuing a number of research directions for which post-graduate opportunities are available. • Functional Genomics- A/Prof Schindeler is working with hospital clinicians to develop cellular models of genetic bone diseases. This involves the use of CRISPR-Cas9 gene editing technology. This aims to produce new diagnostic functional assays to test variants of uncertain significance. • Gene Therapy- A/Prof Schindeler is developed tissue-specific AAV (adeno-associated virus) vectors that target specific musculoskeletal tissues. A bone targeted vector is already in use, and muscle and cartilage vectors are being developed. These will be used to study disease mechanism and to cure models of genetic disease to guide the development of human gene therapy cures. • Bone antimicrobials- A/Prof Schindeler is working with collaborators in Chemical Engineering and Physics to develop antimicrobial implant coatings and test them in preclinicial models. This will have major implications for orthopaedic surgery, where implant infection remains a major source of patient morbidity. • Phage Therapy- A/Prof Schindeler has a research program that aims to treat established bone infections using bacteriophage (viruses that specifically target pathogenic bacteria). This work is being performed in collaboration with the Phage research group at the Westmead Institute for Medical Research.

A/Prof Aaron Schindeler has spent the last 16 years dedicated to improving the health and wellbeing of children with bone and musculoskeletal genetic conditions and injuries. He currently heads the Bioengineering & Molecular Medicine laboratory at The Children's Hospital at Westmead and the Westmead Institute for Medical Research, and holds academic positions in the Faculty of Medicine and Health (FMH) and Faculty of Engineering at The University of Sydney. He leads a multidisciplinary team of clinicians, scientists, and biomedical engineers.A/Prof Schindeler was awarded his PhD in 2004, and since then has built a research project fundamentally based at Kids Research at the Children's Hospital at Westmead. Over his career he has published over 100 peer-review publications and has over 3600 citations. He has attracted a career total of over $7M in competitive funding for his research, including being a CI on 7 successful NHMRC Project Grants, an ARC Linkage Grant, and a US Department of Defense research grant. He has also obtained considerable ongoing support from the Australian Orthopaedic Association and the Children's Tumor Foundation (CTF). He has held a prestigious CTF Fellowship based on his strong track record of achievement in NF1 research (2009-2011). A/Prof Schindeler has supervised over 50 research students, and many of his students have gone on to successful and productive scientific research careers of their own.
• Antimicrobial agents for orthopaedics: cationic steroid antibiotics are an emerging class of antimicrobial drugs. These agents are able to suppress infection by multi-drug resistant bacterial strains and are highly effective in an orthopaedic setting. We are now working to improve their delivery and co-deliver them with orthopaedic implants.
• Musculoskeletal manifestations of NF1: neurofibromatosis type 1 (NF1) is a common genetic condition that can affect a range of physiological systems. Our research focuses on ameliorating the devastating focal bone defects, as well as developing new metabolic therapies for muscle weakness.
• Brittle Bone Disease: bone fragility disorders can crippling for children and currently these genetic conditions have no cure. Our research in this space has a number of active projects. First, we are working in collaboration with clinicians to discover new disease causing genes and functionally test them using CRISPR gene editing. Second, we are working in collaboration with researchers at the Centenary Institute to model brittle bone disease in patient iPS stem cells. Thirdly, we are working with researchers at the Children's Medical Research Institute to elucidate new ways to deliver gene therapy and CRISPR constructs to bone cells using adeno associated viruses (AAVs).

In addition to these major project, A/Prof is involved with a number of other collaborative projects including the testing of biomaterials for bone tissue engineering (Chemical Engineering, University of Sydney), the pharmacological delivery of bisphosphonates for cancer indications (Garvan Institute), and the design of new orthopaedic implants (EPIC lab, The Children's Hospital at Westmead).

Selected publications

For a comprehensive list of Dr Schindeler's publicatons, please visit his Sydney Medical School profile page.