Our research focuses on liver organoids, which are small units of liver-like tissues grown in the laboratory using cells isolated from human liver tissue (donated by patients undergoing liver surgery), or from human induced pluripotent stem cells (hiPSC). Increasingly, we are developing more complex liver organoids that incorporate additional structural elements normally present in human liver, such as blood vessels and bile ducts.

Given our surgical expertise, we are particularly interested in developing new transplantation techniques to deliver liver organoids into the body. Ultimately, we are working towards a regenerative treatment where a patient’s own liver grown from their own stem cells can be transplanted as a cure for liver disease. This will eliminate the need for organ donors, which is a major limitation in current liver transplantation; there are not enough organ donors to meet the rising demand of an exponential increase in liver disease globally.

We leverage a wide network of multi-disciplinary collaborators within Australia and overseas, encompassing expertise in stem cell and liver biology, bio-engineering, surgery (hepato-pancreatico-biliary, transplant, reconstructive), clinical specialisations (hepatology, metabolic medicine), gene-editing/gene therapy, clinical biochemistry and genetics.

Key achievements

33 awards & scholarships to date – including NHMRC Clinical Scholarship & TERMIS Young Investigator Award

Investigator on research grants – totalling more than AU$5.2 million

Media coverage, including front-page newspaper article, national TV, and radio/podcast coverage (2017, 2021, 2022)

Board Director of LiverWELL a patient advocacy and health promotion organisation focusing on liver health and disease

Liver project listed as key performance highlight of St Vincent’s Health Australia (2017)

Selected publications

Yap KK, Mitchell GM Recapitulating the liver niche in vitro (Book chapter). Advances in Stem Cells and their Niches, 1st Edition 2022, Editor Susie Nilsson, Elsevier

Yap KK, Gerrand Y-W, Dingle AM, Yeoh GC, Morrison WA, Mitchell GM. Liver sinusoidal endothelial cells promote the differentiation and survival of mouse vascularised hepatobiliary organoids. Biomaterials, 2020 Aug;251:120091

Lim YJ, On WH, Yap KK Gastrointestinal System (Book chapter). Applied Anatomy & Physiology: an interdisciplinary approach, 1st Edition 2020, Editor Zerina Tomkins, Elsevier

Yap KK, Yeoh GC, Morrison WA, Mitchell GM. The vascularised chamber as an in vivo bioreactor. Trends in Biotechnology 2018 Oct;36(10):1011-1024

Dingle AM*, Yap KK*, Gerrand Y-W, Taylor CJ, Keramidaris E, Lokmic Z, Kong AM, Peters HL, Morrison WA, Mitchell GM. Characterization of isolated liver sinusoidal endothelial cells for liver bioengineering. Angiogenesis 2018 Aug;21(3):581-597 *joint first authors

Yap KK, Dingle AM, Palmer JA, Dhillon R, Lokmic Z, Penington AJ, Yeoh GC, Morrison WA, Mitchell GM. Enhanced liver progenitor cell survival and differentiation in vivo by spheroid implantation in a vascularized tissue engineering chamber. Biomaterials 2013 May;34(16):3992-4001

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