Meet our Directors

Mr Steven Nemes OAM is a commercial lawyer and a founding Director of the Foundation. He is a Business Law Specialist in the Sydney based firm Harris Freidman Lawyers and has extensive skills in negotiation.

Steven photo


Professor Geoffrey Symonds is a scientist with extensive experience in preparing products for clinical trials.  He is head of Scientific Affairs and Collaborations at Commonwealth Serum Laboratories.

Geoff photo


Dr John Gallo is a specialist physician with a life time of experience in treating patients with haematological disorders, both in the public and private arena.  He is a keen cyclist and works part time for Relationships Australia.

 John global photo


Professor Bernie Tuch is a  practising endocrinologist and a diabetes researcher in cell therapies.  He is a founding Director of the Foundation, and separately of the NSW Stem Cell Network.  He is also the interim Chairman and a non-executive Director of Living Cell Technologies Ltd, an ASX listed company implementing cell therapies for Parkinson’s Disease.

Bernie 2014 small

The Foundation

  • supports researchers developing a therapy that will allow the growing number of insulin-dependent Australians to cease having to administer insulin every day of their lives;
  • helps educate the wider community about the development of therapies to overcome the need for insulin for many young people with diabetes

The Foundation has supported:

A. At the Diabetes Transplant Unit, Prince of Wales Hospital/University of New South Wales whose Director was Professor Bernie Tuch; 2002-9.

1. Seed funds for research projects:

  • Development of human embryonic stem cell lines;
  • Isolation of insulin-producing cells (islets) from the pancreas of donor humans;
  • Placing human insulin-producing cells inside microcapsules to overcome the need for insulin injections in diabetic recipients;
  • Isolation and transplantation of the human fetal pancreas as a therapy for diabetes.

2. Purchase of equipment – encapsulation machine

3. Development of teaching course on how to grow human embryonic stem cells

4. Salary of Post-Doctoral Fellow – Dr Marie Best

5. Travel funds to support the further training of researchers (Drs Jayne Foster & Wei Wu) and visiting Research Fellows (Dr Anand Hardikar from India and A/Professor Rennian Wang from Canada)

6. Scholarship for PhD students – Vijay Vaithilingam & Mathi Appavoo


                                                       Dr Vijay Vaithilingam and wife Priya at his PhD graduation, University of New South Wales, 2011

B. At University of Western Australia 2009-11.

A research project to understand the molecular pathways involved in the differentiation of pancreatic progenitors, derived from human embryonic stem cells, into mature insulin-producing cells. Chief Investigator – Professor Grant Morahan.


C. At Commonwealth Scientific Industrial Research Organization 2010-4.

1. A research project to show that encapsulated pancreatic progenitors derived from human embryonic stem cells will normalize the sugar levels of diabetic recipients. Chief Investigator – Professor Bernie Tuch.

2. Scholarship for PhD student, at Monash University – Luke Carroll.

3. Purchase of equipment


D. At The University of Sydney 2015-.

1. The Bioengineered Diabetes Therapy Project investigating the possibility that 3D printed scaffolds will enhance the ability of encapsulated insulin-producing cells to normalize blood sugar levels of diabetic recipients. This research project is being conducted in collaboration with ARC Future Fellow, Associate Professor Tim Dargaville, of Queensland University of Technology.  Investigators – Professor Bernie Tuch and Dr Auvro Mridha.

In 2018, the Foundation entered into a Feasibility Study Agreement with the Israeli company Kadimastem Ltd. This was to investigate the ability of the Israeli human insulin-producing cells, derived from embryonic stem cells, when seeded into the Foundation’s device, to normalize blood sugar levels of diabetic recipients.  Studies are at the pre-clinical phase, with plans to proceed to human trials.

Also in 2018, the Foundation licensed the intellectual property relating to its device to Sydney Cell Therapy Foundation Pty Ltd.  This company was the recipient of a NSW and Israeli Government R & D and Technological Innovation Program Grant to pursue the Project with Kadimastem. Details about this can be found at https://twitter.com/9newssyd/status/1103218921262350336?s=21


Aust Ambassador to Israel, Chris Canaan, visits Kadimastem in August 2019 as a result of the collaboration with the AFDR

In 2019, the Foundation signed a Donor Supported Research Funding Agreement with the National Stem Cell Foundation of Australia to support the Bioengineered Diabetes Therapy Project, as regards initial pre-clinical studies and a subsequent clinical trial in diabetic humans.


2. Scholarship for PhD student, Luke Carroll, who relocated to The University of Sydney.




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