Dr Michelle McDonald

Group Leader - Bone Microenvironment

Conjoint/Adjunct Role(s)

Conjoint Lecturer, St Vincent's Clinical School, Faculty of Medicine, UNSW Sydney

My research careers spans over 13 years and commenced in 2002 at The Children’s Hospital at Westmead. As part of the Orthopeadic and Biotechnology Group I worked as a research team member and completed my PhD investigating the impact of current and novel bone targeted therapies on bone repair.

As a post doctoral scientist within the Bone Biology Division at the Garvan Institute, I am working to develop a team of researchers focused on developing improved strategies for treating the bone disease associated with multiple myeloma and breast and prostate cancers. This draws on my extensive background in utilising agents which target Wnt/β catenin signalling to promote bone formation. Further, using specialised cell tracking and imaging techniques we are also investigating bone micro-environment regulation of tumour cell dormancy and activation.

I have always worked closely with clinician scientists, which has influenced the development of my research towards clinically translatable outcomes. With a career goal to become a group leader within the Bone Biology Division, my role also includes teaching and supervising students, maintaining current and establishing new collaborations, project design, implementation and data interpretation, oral and written scientific communication and grant applications.

In addition to this I have been an active member on multiple committees. I was a scientific advisor on the Western Sydney Area Health Animal Ethics committee for 4 years and was an active committee member on the NSW ASMR and St Vincent’s Research Symposium Committees. More recently I co-chaired the International Bone and Mineral Society Young Investigators Committee for two years, which offered a great opportunity to work with fellow mid-career scientists within my field on an international scale, building new funding and networking opportunities for young Investigators. My research interests have also allowed multiple opportunities to work with industry and pharmaceutical companies, and more recently form active collaborations within Australia and with groups form the UK and the USA.

Research Interests

Bone Cancer
Tumour and bone cell interactions
Multiple Myeloma
Tumour cell dormancy in bone
Intravital 2-photon imaging

Awards and Honours

2014 - ANZBMS Christine and T Jack Martin Research Travel Grant
2014 - Best Oral Presentation, St Vincent’s Campus Research Symposium
2013 - Best oral presentation, IBMS Cancer Induced Bone Disease ASM
2013 - International Bone and Mineral Society, Cancer Induced Bone Disease, Greg Mundy Fellowship
2012 - New Investigator Award, European Calcified Tissue Society
2011/12 - Osteoporosis Australia/Amgen/ANZBMS Post-Doctoral Research Fellowship
2010 - Young Investigator Award, American Society of Bone and Mineral Research
2010 - Travel Grant Australia and New Zealand Bone and Mineral Society, ASM
2010 - Travel Grant IBMS, Davos Bone Therapeutics Workshop March
2008-2010 - Bone Growth Foundation Post-Doctoral Research Fellowship
2008 - Travel Grant Australia and New Zealand Bone and Mineral Society, ASM
2008 - Travel Grant, IBMS, Davos Bone Therapeutics Workshop
2007 - Travel Grant, American Society of Bone and Mineral Research ASM
2007 - Travel Grant, International Bone and Mineral Society ASM
2006 - Best Young Investigator Award, International Society of Fracture Repair
2006 - Travel Grant, Australia and New Zealand Bone and Mineral Society ASM


2008 – PhD, University of Technology Sydney - Australia
2000 – BMedSc, University of Technology Sydney - Australia

Selected Publications

McDonald MM, Lawson MA, Terry RL, Khoo, W, Down J, Kaplan W, Paton-Hough J, Fellow C, Pettitt JA, Dear TN, Van Valckenborgh E, Baldock PA, Rogers MJ, Eaton CL, Vanderkerken K, Pettit AR, Quinn JMW, Zannettino AW, Phan TG, Croucher PI. Osteoclasts remodel the endosteal niche to re-activate dormant Myeloma cells. Preliminary Acceptance Nature Communications, Sept 2015.

Morse A, Yu NYC, Mikulec K, Peacock L, Kramer I, Kneissel M, McDonald MM, Little DG. (equal last author). Endochondral fracture healing with external fixation in the Sost knockout mouse results in earlier fibrocartilage callus removal and increased bone volume fraction and strength. Bone 2015 Feb;71:155-63.

Morse A, McDonald MM, Kelly NH, Melville KM, Schindeler A, Kramer I, Kneissel M, van der Meulen MCH, and Little DG. Mechanical load increases in bone formation via a Sclerostin-independent pathway. J Bone and Mineral Research. 2014 Nov;29(11):2456-67

Croucher PI, McDonald MM. Pathophysiology of myeloma bone disease. Haematologica 2014 In Press.

Kovacic N, Croucher PI, McDonald MM. Signaling between tumor cells and the host bone marrow microenvironment Calcif Tissue Int. 2014 Jan;94(1):125-39.

Sousa DM, McDonald MM, Mikulec K, Peacock L, Herzog H, Lamghari M, Little DG, Baldock PA Neuropeptide Y modulates fracture healing through Y1 receptor signaling. J Orthop Res. 2013 Oct;31(10):1570-8.

McDonald MM, Morse A, Mikulec K, Peacock L, Baldock P, Kostenuik PJ, Little DG. Osteoclasts are redundant during MMP driven endochondral fracture repair, but essential to hard callus remodelling. J Bone Miner Res. 2013 Jul;28(7):1550-60

McDonald MM, Birke O, Morse A, Mikulec, K, Peacock L, Baldock P, Min Liu, Hua Zhu Ke, Little DG. Inhibition of Sclerostin by Systemic Treatment with Sclerostin Antibody Enhances Healing of Proximal Tibial Defects in Ovariectomized Rats. Journal of Orthopaedic Research Oct;30(10):1541-8 2011.

McDonald MM, Morse A, Mikulec K, Schindeler A, Little DG. Characterisation of bone phenotype and fracture repair in the osteoporotic Incisors Absent Rat. Journal of Orthopaedic Research 2011 May 29(5) 726-33.

Schindeler A, Morse A, Peacock L, Mikulec K, Yu NYC, Liu R, Kijumnuayporn S, McDonald MM, Baldock PA, Ruys AJ, Little DG. Rapid cell culture and pre-clinical screening of a transforming growth factor-beta (TGF-beta) inhibitor for orthopaedics. BMC Musculoskeletal Disorders. 2010; 11:105.

Tägil M, McDonald MM, Morse A, Peacock L, Mikulec K, Amanat N, Godfrey C, Little DG. Intermittent PTH((1-34)) does not increase union rates in open rat femoral fractures and exhibits attenuated anabolic effects compared to closed fractures. Bone. 2010 Mar;46(3):852-9.

Baldock PA, Lee NJ, Driessler F, Lin S, Allison S, Stehrer B, Lin EJ, Zhang L, Enriquez RF, Wong IP, McDonald MM, During M, Pierroz DD, Slack K, Shi YC, Yulyaningsih E, Aljanova A, Little DG, Ferrari SL, Sainsbury A, Eisman JA, Herzog H. Neuropeptide Y knockout mice reveal a central role of NPY in the coordination of bone mass to body weight .PLoS One. 2009 Dec 22;4(12):e8415.

Schindeler A, McDonald MM, Bokko P, Little DG. Bone remodelling during fracture repair: the cellular picture Sem Cell Dev Biol 2008 Oct;19(5):459-66.

McDonald MM, Dulai SK, Godfery C, Amanat N, Sztynda T, Little DG. Bolus or Weekly Zoledronic Acid administration does not delay endochondral fracture repair but have differing effects on hard callus remodelling. Bone, 2008 Oct;43(4):653-62.

Baldock PA, Allison SJ, Lundberg P, Lee NJ, Slack K, Lin EJ, Enriquez RF, McDonald MM, Zhang L, During MJ, Little DG, Eisman JA, Gardiner EM, Yulyaningsih E, Lin S, Sainsbury A, Herzog H. Novel role of y1 receptors in the coordinated regulation of bone and energy homeostasis. J Biol Chem. 2007 Jun 29;282(26):19092-102.

Amanat N, McDonald M, Godfrey C, Bilston L, Little DG. Optimal timing of a single dose of zoledronic acid to increase strength in rat fracture repair. J Bone and Min Res. J Bone and Mineral Research. 2007 June 22(6):867-76.

Dr Michelle McDonald

International Collaboration

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