The University of Western Australia

UWA Staff Profile

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Foteini Kakulas

Dr Foteini Kakulas

Adjunct Research Fellow
Biomedical Sciences, School of

Contact details
Address
School of Biomedical Sciences
The University of Western Australia (M503)
35 Stirling Highway
CRAWLEY WA 6009
Australia
Email
foteini.kakulas@uwa.edu.au
Qualifications
PhD W.Aust.
Biography
Dr Foteini Kakulas (formerly Hassiotou) graduated from the Aristotle University of Greece in 2005 with a B.Sc. in Biology and First Class Honours in Microbiology. She then migrated to Australia and started a PhD in 2006 in Plant Physiology at The University of Western Australia (UWA), which she completed in 2009. Shortly after, she joined the Hartmann Human Lactation Research Group of UWA, commencing a second PhD on breastfeeding physiology, the cellular composition of breastmilk, and breast cancer. Her second PhD included ground-breaking reports, such as the discovery of pluripotent stem cells in breastmilk, and the development of tools to assess the health status of the lactating breast. She also conducted novel research in molecular determinants of cancer. Dr Kakulas then formed and directed the Cell Biology Team of the UWA Hartmann group, conducting research that concentrated on the maternal cells present in breastmilk and their involvement in health and disease. She also directed a team of researchers concentrating on understanding the causes of cancer and developing novel non-invasive therapies for this disease. She is the recipient of the 2014 Ehrlich-Koldovsky Award (International Society for Research in Human Milk and Lactation), which recognised her human and animal studies on the pluripotent properties of breastmilk stem cells and their transfer and fate in the breastfed offspring. Dr Kakulas is an Editorial Board Member for Scientific Reports, Nature.
Key research
Pluripotency genes and associated pathways controlling self-renewal and differentiation in normal stem cells and in cancer stem cells.
The properties of breastmilk stem cells and microRNAs, and their function in the development of the breastfed infant.
The potential of breastmilk stem cells to be used in regenerative medicine.
Tools to successfully and rapidly diagnose mastitis, understand its causes, and develop potential clinical management avenues.
The aetiology and management of low milk supply, such as in mothers of preterm infants.
Appetite control mechanisms in the breastfed infant, and the protective function of breastfeeding against obesity later in life.
Effects of maternal diet on breastmilk composition and the function of the lactating breast.
Using breastmilk stem cells as models to give insight into the aetiology of cancer.
Anti-cancer properties of human breastmilk.
Cancer stem cells in glioblastoma and gliosarcoma.
Publications
1.Melnik B.C., Kakulas F., Geddes D.T., Hartmann P.E., John S.M., Carrera-Bastos P., Cordain L., Schmitz G. (2016). Milk miRNAs: Simple nutrients or systemic functional regulators? Nutrition & Metabolism 13:42 DOI 10.1186/s12986-016-0101-2 (the first 2 authors have contributed equally to this paper).

2.Alsaweed M., Lai C.T., Hartmann P.E., Geddes D.T., Kakulas F. (2016). Human milk cells contain numerous miRNAs that may change with milk removal and regulate multiple physiological processes. International Journal of Molecular Sciences 17, 956; doi:10.3390/ijms17060956.

3.Alsaweed M., Lai C.T., Hartmann P.E., Geddes D.T., Kakulas F. (2016). Human milk cells and lipids conserve numerous known and novel miRNAs, some of which are differentially expressed during lactation. PLOSONE 11(4): e0152610.

4.Kakulas F., Geddes D.T., Hartmann P.E. (2016). Breastmilk is unlikely to be a source of mesenchymal stem cells. Breastfeeding Medicine 11(3):1-2.

5.Alsaweed M., Lai C.T., Hartmann P.E., Geddes D.T., Kakulas F. (2016). Human milk miRNAs primarily originate from the mammary gland resulting in unique miRNA profiles of fractionated milk. Scientific Reports, Nature 6:20680.

6.Agarwal V., Toshniwal P., Smith N.E., Smith N.M., Li B., Clemons T.D., Byrne L.T., Kakulas F., Wood F.M., Fear M., Corry B., Iyer K.S. (2016). Enhancing the efficacy of cation-independent mannose 6-phosphate receptor inhibitors by intracellular delivery. Chemical Communications, DOI: 10.1039/C5CC06826F.

7.Kakulas F. (2015). Breastmilk: A source of stem cells and protective cells for the infant. Infant 11(6):187-191.

8.Seymour T., Twigger A.-J., Kakulas F. (2015). Pluripotency genes and their functions in the normal and aberrant breast and brain. International Journal of Molecular Sciences 16, 27288–27301.

9.Alsaweed M., Hartmann P.E., Geddes D.T., Kakulas F. (2015). MicroRNAs in breastmilk and the lactating breast: Potential immunoprotectors and developmental regulators for the infant and the mother. International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health 12, 13981-14020.

10.Cannon A., Kakulas F., Hepworth A., Lai C.T., Hartmann P.E., Geddes D.T. (2015). The effects of leptin on breastfeeding behavior. International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health 12, 12340-12355.

11.Trend S., de Jong E., Lloyd M.L., Kok C.H., Richmond P., Doherty D.A., Simmer K., Kakulas F., Strunk T., Currie A. (2015). Leukocyte populations in human preterm and term breast milk identified by multicolour flow cytometry. PLOSONE 10(8): e0135580.

12.Twigger A.-J., Hepworth A.R., Lai C.T., Chetwynd E., Stuebe A.M., Blancafort P., Hartmann P.E., Geddes D.T., Kakulas F. (2015). Gene expression in breastmilk cells is associated with maternal and infant characteristics. Scientific Reports, Nature 5:12933.

13.Seymour T.C., Nowak A., Kakulas F. (2015). Targeting aggressive cancer stem cells in glioblastoma. Frontiers in Oncology 5:159.

14.Alsaweed M., Hepworth A.R., Lefevre C., Hartmann P.E., Geddes D.T., Hassiotou F. (2015). Human milk microRNA and total RNA differ depending on milk fractionation. Journal of Cellular Biochemistry doi: 10.1002/jcb.25207.

15.Hassiotou F., Geddes D.T. (2015). Immune cell-mediated protection of the mammary gland and the infant during breastfeeding. Advances in Nutrition 6: 267–275.

16.Mortazavi N., Hassiotou F., Geddes D., Hassanipour F. (2015). Mathematical modeling of mammary ducts in lactating human females. Journal of Biomechanical Engineering 137(7).

17.Jackson M., Hassiotou F., Nowak A. (2014). Glioblastoma stem-like cells: At the root of tumor recurrence and a therapeutic target. Carcinogenesis 36:177-185.

18.Hassiotou F., Hartmann P.E. (2014). At the dawn of a new discovery: The potential of breastmilk stem cells. Advances in Nutrition 5:770-778.

19.Bode L., McGuire M., McGuire M.K., Rodriguez J.M., Geddes D.T., Hassiotou F., Hartmann P.E. (2014). It’s alive: Microbes and cells in human milk and their potential benefits to mother and infant. Advances in Nutrition 5: 1–3.

20.Hassiotou F., Geddes D.T. (2014). Programming of appetite control during breastfeeding as a preventative strategy against the obesity epidemic. Journal of Human Lactation 30(2): 136–142.

21.Hassiotou F., Hepworth A.R., Williams T.M., Twigger A.-J., Perrella S., Lai C.T., Filgueira L., Geddes D.T., Hartmann P.E. (2013). Breastmilk cell and fat contents respond similarly to removal of breastmilk by the infant. PlosOne 8(11): e78232. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0078232.

22.Prabhakaran P., Hassiotou F., Blancafort P., Filgueira L. (2013). Cisplatin induces differentiation of breast cancer cells. Frontiers in Oncology 3:134. doi: 10.3389/fonc.2013.00134.

23.Hassiotou F., Hepworth A., Beltran A., Mathews M., Stuebe A., Hartmann P.E., Filgueira L., Blancafort P. (2013). Expression of the pluripotency transcription factor OCT4 in the normal and aberrant mammary gland. Frontiers in Oncology 3:79. doi: 10.3389/fonc.2013.00079

24.Hassiotou F., Hepworth A.R., Metzger P., Lai C.T., Trengove N., Hartmann P.E., Filgueira L. (2013). Maternal and infant infections stimulate a rapid leukocyte response in breastmilk. Clinical & Translational Immunology 2: e3.

25.Hassiotou F., Geddes, D.T., Hartmann P.E. (2013). Cells in human milk: State of the science. Journal of Human Lactation 29(2): 171-182. (Voted one of the most read JHL articles in September 2013: http://jhl.sagepub.com/reports/most-read)

26.Twigger A.-J., Hodgetts S., Filgueira L., Hartmann P.E., Hassiotou F. (2013). From breastmilk to brains: The potential of stem cells in human milk. Journal of Human Lactation 29(2):136-139.

27.Hassiotou F., Geddes D. (2013). Anatomy of the human mammary gland – Current status of knowledge. Clinical Anatomy 26(1): 29-48. – Invited Review

28.Faupel-Badger J., Arcaro K., Balkam J., Eliassen A.H., Hassiotou F., Lebrilla C., Michels K., Palmer J., Schedin P., Stuebe A., Watson C., Sherman M. (2013). Postpartum remodeling, lactation and breast cancer risk: towards improved risk assessment and prevention. Summary of a National Cancer Institute Sponsored Workshop. Journal of the National Cancer Institute 105 (3): 166-174.

29.Hassiotou F., Beltran A., Chetwynd E., Stuebe A.M., Twigger A.-J., Metzger P., Trengove N., Lai C.T., Filgueira L., Blancafort P., Hartmann P.E. (2012). Breastmilk is a novel source of stem cells with multi-lineage differentiation potential. Stem Cells 30: 2164–2174.

30.Hassiotou F., Renton M., Ludwig M., Evans J.R., Veneklaas E. (2010). Photosynthesis at an extreme end of the leaf trait spectrum: how does it relate to high leaf dry mass per area and associated structural parameters? Journal of Experimental Botany 61(11): 3015-3028.

31.Roth-Nebelsick A., Hassiotou F., Veneklaas E.J. (2009). Stomatal crypts have small effects on transpiration: a numerical model analysis. Plant Physiology 151: 2018-2027.

32.Hassiotou F., Evans J.R., Ludwig M., Veneklaas E. (2009). Stomatal crypts may facilitate diffusion of CO2 to adaxial mesophyll cells in thick sclerophylls. Plant, Cell and Environment 32: 1596-1611.

33.Hassiotou F., Renton M., Ludwig M., Veneklaas E., Evans J.R. (2009). Influence of leaf dry mass per area, CO2 and irradiance on mesophyll conductance in sclerophylls. Journal of Experimental Botany 60: 2303-2314.
Roles, responsibilities and expertise
Dr Kakulas has supervised Honours, Masters and PhD students on projects that address her key research areas. Dr Kakulas' expertise spans the following fields:
Stem Cell and Cancer Biology
Anatomy
Immunology
Human Lactation
Human Nutrition
Plant Physiology and Photosynthesis
Funding received
Kakulas F (2015-2016). Illuminating the Life-Giving Properties of Human Milk: From Milk Diagnostics to Milk Therapeutics. Unrestricted research grant by Medela AG (Switzerland)
Jackson M, Hassiotou F, Nowak A (2014). Expression and significance of embryonic stem cell associated genes in glioblastoma and gliosarcoma. WA Department of Health, Australian Government
Hassiotou F (2014). New horizons for regenerative medicine using breastmilk stem cells. American Association of Anatomists
Equipment Grant RA/1/466/183. National Health and Medical Research Council, Australia
Hassiotou F (2014-2015). Illuminating the Life-Giving Properties of Human Milk. Unrestricted research grant by Medela AG (Switzerland)
Hassiotou F (2012-2013). Physiology of Human Lactation. Unrestricted research grant by Medela AG (Switzerland)
Hassiotou F (2011). Examination of the properties and function of pluripotent stem cells from breastmilk. GRST Grant (University of Western Australia)
Hassiotou F (2010-2013). Women and Infants Research Foundation Scholarship
Hassiotou F (2010-2013). Medela AG Scholarship
Hassiotou F (2009). Robertson Fellowship
Hassiotou F (2007). ARC-NZ Research Network for Vegetation Function Research Grant
Hassiotou F (2006-2009). Australian Postgraduate Award
Languages
English and Greek
Memberships
International Society for Stem Cell Research
Australasian Society for Stem Cell Research
International Society for Research in Human Milk and Lactation
American Association of Anatomists
Society for Reproduction Biology (Australia)
Endocrine and Reproductive Biology Society of WA (Elected President 2013 onwards)
American Nutrition Society
Nutrition Society of Australia
Honours and awards
American Association of Anatomists Travel Award (2015)
Postdoc Platform Award Runner Up, American Association of Anatomists (2015)
American Society of Nutrition, Emerging Leader in Nutrition Science, Experimental Biology (2015)
Ehrlich-Koldovsky Award, International Society for Research in Human Milk and Lactation (2014)
Postdoctoral Platform Award Nominee, Experimental Biology, American Association of Anatomists (2014)
Fisher Biotec Young Investigator Award (2013)
Best Publication in Biological Sciences, The University of Western Australia (2013)
International Society for Stem Cell Research Travel Award (2012)
Best Poster Prize, Breastfeeding and Lactation Symposium (2012)
American Association of Anatomists Travel Award (2012)
International Society for Research in Human Milk and Lactation Travel Award (2012)
GSK-AusBiotech Excellence Award – National Winner (2011)
Australasian Society for Stem Cell Research Travel Award (2011)
UWA Convocation Travel Award (2011)
Fisher Biotec Oral Presentation Award (CBSM, Perth) (2011)
Best Postgraduate Publication Award 2010 – School of Plant Biology, UWA (2010)
Australian Society of Plant Scientists Travel Grant (2009)
Grieve Memorial Travel Award (2009)
UWA Teaching Internship(2008)
The Biochemical Journal Young Investigator Award (2007)
Australian Society of Plant Scientists Travel Grant (2007)
Mary Janet Lindsay of Yanchep Memorial Fund (2006)
Previous positions
Editorial Review Board, Journal of Human Lactation
Teaching
Supervisor to Honours, Masters and PhD students
Current external positions
Endocrine and Reproductive Society of WA Elected President (2013 onwards)
Scientific Review Board, International Society for Research in Human Milk and Lactation (2016)
Useful links
http://milkgenomics.org/author/foteini/
http://wirf.com.au/sites/default/files/wirf_report_breastmilk_stem_cells_2015_draft1.pdf
https://www.medela.com/breastfeeding-professionals/news-events/congress2015/speaker-hassiotou
http://www.thenakedscientists.com/HTML/interviews/interview/1000493/
http://www.abc.net.au/science/articles/2012/05/09/3469075.htm
https://www.newscientist.com/article/dn26492-breast-milk-stem-cells-may-be-incorporated-into-baby/
Research profile
Research profile and publications
 

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Last updated:
Tuesday, 3 November, 2015 2:39 PM