Researcher biography

Associate Professor Joy Wolfram leads a nanomedicine and extracellular vesicle research program with the goal of developing innovative approaches that bring the next generation of treatments and diagnostics directly to the clinic. She has joint appointments in the School of Chemical Engineering and the Australian Institute for Bioengineering and Nanotechnology at The University of Queensland, Australia (#36 in Best Global Universities, U.S. News & World Report).

MISSION

1) Develop a new paradigm of therapeutics (using nanotechnology and cell products) to treat life-threatening diseases that are major causes of death globally, including cardiovascular disease, kidney disease, and breast cancer

2) Save lives by manufacturing at scale - Deliver national manufacturing innovation and a skilled workforce

3) Work with a multidisciplinary team and industry partners to position Australia as a global leader in extracellular vesicle medicine

Extracellular vesicles are small biomolecular packages (released locally and systemically) that are crucial for intercellular communication. Extracellular vesicles have promising potential to be leveraged and engineered to provide a paradigm shift in cell-free therapy. Unresolved challenges in the field include scalable manufacturing, understanding therapeutic/pathological mechanisms, and capacity to use extracellular vesicles for drug delivery. The Wolfram Laboratory is leveraging innovations in manufacturing, biological mechanisms, and drug loading of extracellular vesicles to develop therapeutics to alter the trajectory of disease, improve patient outcomes, and prolong healthy lifespan.

FOCUS AREAS

1) Developing improved methods for extracellular vesicle isolation from human biofluids

2) Designing hybrid drug delivery systems with extracellular vesicle and synthetic components for a ‘best-of-both-worlds’ approach to treat cardiovascular disease and chronic kidney disease

3) Understanding the role of extracellular vesicles in cancer immunoevasion and metastasis

The research program has resulted in more than 80 publications in journals, such as, Nature Nanotechnology, Materials Today, and Nature Reviews Materials. These publications have been cited 13,600 times (Google Scholar). The Wolfram Laboratory has collaborated with 160 universities and industry partners across 45 countries (Scopus). The research program has also been featured in more than 100 presentations at scientific meetings, including 78 invited talks and eight international keynote talks.

Associate Professor Wolfram is actively involved in community outreach and education, including her previous roles as the Chair of an education and outreach working group of the National Institutes of Health in the United States and the Associate Program Director of the PhD Program in Regenerative Sciences at Mayo Clinic (Best Hospital in the World, Newsweek). As a TED speaker, she strives to bring science to a wider audience.

She has received more than 30 awards from eight countries, including the 2016 Amgen Scholars Ten to Watch List (best and brightest up-and-comers in science and medicine across 42 countries), the 2019 Forbes 30 under 30 list in Health Care in the United States/Canada, the 2019 shortlist for the Nature Research Award for Inspiring Science (one of ten worldwide), and the 2021 Finnish Expatriate of the Year (past recipients include Nobel Memorial Prize winners, Millennium Technology Prize winners, and Formula 1 drivers). She is in the top 1% of researchers worldwide in the categories of ‘Biology & Biochemistry’ and ‘Pharmacology & Toxicology' (Essential Science Indicators, 2023).