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Corporate entry Transplantation Unit (1981 - 1996)

The Walter and Eliza Hall Institute of Medical Research

Medical Research


The Transplantation and Electron Microscopy Unit took over from the Electron Microscopy Laboratory of the Cellular Immunology Unit in 1981/82. It was incorporated into the Transplantation Unit in 1989/90, which was in turn merged to form the Autoimmunity and Transplantation Division in 1996/1997.


The Transplantation and Electron Microscopy Unit provided electron microscope facilities for the Hall Institute Units and for other Institutions. It also had a research wing, which initially concentrated on pancreatic islet transplantation in mice with induced diabetes mellitus. The Unit attempted a small clinical transplantation trial in selected human patients beginning in 1983/84, but it progressed slowly due to a poor supply of immature human pancreas. Initial transplants yielded no evidence of graft function after two years so the Unit returned to a focus on animal models in 1987/88. The acquisition of a NOD (non-obese diabetic) mouse model in 1984/85 greatly expanded opportunities for transplantation studies relevant to human type I insulin-dependent diabetes mellitus (IDDM). The NOD mice proved invaluable for studies in immunosuppression, graft rejection and immuno-isolation, and for researching xenotransplantation of islets from foetal pig pancreas into NOD mice. This work was first undertaken in 1986 and became the Unit's main focus by 1991/92. In 1994/95 xenotransplantation studies were extended to primates, but an absence of primate autoimmune insulin-dependent diabetes mellitus (IDDM) prevented a study on recurrence of the disease after transplantation.

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Emily Geraghty & Annette Alafaci