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The Combes laboratory focuses on kidney development and disease. 

Dr Combes and team use single cell sequencing, 3D imaging and molecular genetics to investigate how tissues form during development and how disruption of developmental programs can cause or contribute to disease. Recent work in the lab has used single cell sequencing to interrogate the signalling pathways controlling progenitor maintenance and differentiation in the developing kidney, and to assess how faithfully stem cell-derived kidney organoids represent the human fetal kidney. Another ongoing focus is understanding how progenitor cell migration impacts cell fate decisions. This work may lead to new diagnostics and provides avenues to improve production of stem cell-derived kidney tissue for disease modelling, drug screening, and regenerative medicine.

Awarded a PhD from graduate studies with Professor Peter Koopman at the University of Queensland (UQ), Dr Combes undertook postdoctoral studies in the laboratories of Professor Emma Whitelaw, and Professor Melissa Little at UQ & Murdoch Children’s Research Institute (MCRI). During this time he pioneered new 3D imaging approaches that led to the discovery of novel cell behaviours during development and new genetic pathways that contribute to kidney disease. 

Dr Combes was awarded an ARC DECRA fellowship in 2015 at the University of Melbourne (UoM) and led a team at UoM/MCRI focused on the molecular regulation of kidney development. Alex relocated to the Monash Biomedicine Discovery Institute and Department of Anatomy and Developmental Biology in September 2019.

Education/Academic qualification

Molecular Genetics and Development, PhD, University of Queensland

Biochemistry, BSc (Hons), University of Queensland

External positions

Honorary Senior Research Fellow, Murdoch Children's Research Institute

17 Sep 201931 Dec 2019

Research area keywords

  • Organogenesis
  • Imaging
  • Kidney development
  • Kidney disease
  • Congenital Disease
  • Regenerative Medicine
  • Single Cell Genomics
  • Stem Cell Niche
  • Stem Cell Differentiation
  • Bioinformatics
  • Bioengineering

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Projects 2018 2021

Pushing the Limits of Fluorescence Microscopy with Adaptive Optics

Tilley, L., Persson, S., Little, M., McMillan, P., Combes, A., Lithgow, T., Naderer, T., Ryan, M., Richardson, H., Lock, P., van Oijen, A., Russell, S. M., Heisler, M., Boecking, T. & Elgass, K. D.

Monash University – Internal Faculty Contribution, Monash University – Internal University Contribution, Hudson Institute of Medical Research


Project: Research

Research Output 2005 2019

  • 36 Article
  • 5 Review Article
  • 2 Chapter (Book)
  • 1 Comment / Debate
1 Citation (Scopus)

Kidney organoids: accurate models or fortunate accidents

Little, M. H. & Combes, A. N., 1 Oct 2019, In : Genes & development. 33, 19-20, p. 1319-1345 27 p.

Research output: Contribution to journalReview ArticleResearchpeer-review

Open Access
8 Citations (Scopus)

Single cell analysis of the developing mouse kidney provides deeper insight into marker gene expression and ligand-receptor crosstalk

Combes, A. N., Phipson, B., Lawlor, K. T., Dorison, A., Patrick, R., Zappia, L., Harvey, R. P., Oshlack, A. & Little, M. H., 12 Jun 2019, In : Development (Cambridge, England). 146, 12, 15 p., dev178673.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

4 Citations (Scopus)

Nephron progenitor commitment is a stochastic process influenced by cell migration

Lawlor, K. T., Zappia, L., Lefevre, J., Park, J. S., Hamilton, N. A., Oshlack, A., Little, M. H. & Combes, A. N., 24 Jan 2019, In : eLife. 8, 24 p., e41156.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

Open Access
15 Citations (Scopus)

Single-cell analysis reveals congruence between kidney organoids and human fetal kidney

Combes, A. N., Zappia, L., Er, P. X., Oshlack, A. & Little, M. H., 23 Jan 2019, In : Genome Medicine. 11, 1, 15 p., 3.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

Open Access
4 Citations (Scopus)

Wnt11 directs nephron progenitor polarity and motile behavior ultimately determining nephron endowment

O’brien, L. L., Combes, A. N., Short, K. M., Lindström, N. O., Whitney, P. H., Cullen-McEwen, L. A., Ju, A., Abdelhalim, A., Michos, O., Bertram, J. F., Smyth, I. M., Little, M. H. & McMahon, A. P., 5 Dec 2018, In : eLife. 7, 25 p., e40392.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

Open Access

Press / Media

Research Highlight for Lawlor et al., Elife 2019

Alex Combes & Ellen Carney


1 item of Media coverage

Press/Media: Expert Comment