Professor Melissa Little

“Biological science is an extremely artistic endeavour - creativity and lateral thinking are just as important in scientists as mathematical acumen or biochemistry knowledge.”

Professor Melissa Little is an internationally-recognised researcher whose acclaimed work includes the breakthrough of growing ‘mini kidneys’ in a laboratory.

Little is considered a pioneer in the field of renal stem cell biology and renal regeneration and has spent decades as a forerunner in these fields developing new regenerative treatment options. With kidney disease affecting one in every 10 Australians and with kidney failure rapidly increasing at six per cent per annum, Little recognised an urgent need for new treatment options and devoted her life to this endeavour.

Her work, as part of the first team to successfully grow human kidney organoids in a petri dish, revolutionised the field by providing researchers with a safer and more effective way to study disease and test drugs.  The long-term effects of this breakthrough are the potential to save millions of dollars and copious amounts of time in drug safety testing, allowing industry to deliver better treatments, faster.

Much of Little’s distinguished career was been spent at UQ, where she completed both her undergraduate and postgraduate research training and was employed for 22-years. At UQ, Little’s curiosity and talent saw her rise quickly through the ranks from a postdoctoral research fellow to a group leader and division head at UQ’s Institute for Molecular Bioscience.

An NHMRC Senior Principal Research Fellow, Little is a Fellow of the Australian Academy of Sciences, the Australian Academy of Health and Medical Sciences, a graduate of the Australian Institute of Company Directors, President of the Australasian Society for Stem Cell Research and Program Leader of Stem Cells Australia.

She has been recognised with multiple awards, including most recently the Eureka Prize for Scientific Research.

Little is a devoted mentor to researchers of all levels and conducts workshops on empowering women for a broad range of audiences including corporate entities such as law firms. She believes in the importance of having visible female leaders across industries who are also mothers.


Vice-Chancellor's Alumni Excellence Award
Image of Professor Melissa Little


Bachelor of Science (First Class Honours)
Doctor of Philosophy