Interview: Anita Quigley, BioFab3D

Life is in 3D: Our healthcare should be too.”

Dr. Anita Quigley completed a Ph.D. at the Department of Medicine, Melbourne University with a focus on mitochondrial function in end-stage cardiomyopathies. She is currently a Research Fellow at the University of Wollongong as part of an ARC Centre of Excellence and an Honorary Fellow at the Department of Medicine, University of Melbourne. She is currently located at the new flagship BioFab3D laboratories and Department of Clinical Neurosciences located at St. Vincent’s Hospital Melbourne. Her current activities involve the use of human iPSC for modeling neurological disorders, the development of biomaterials for tissue engineering and 3D bioprinting, the delivery of stem and progenitor cells to neural and muscle tissues and the differentiation of iPSC and NSC to neural and muscle lineages. Her work involves multi-disciplinary liaison with collaborators from diverse fields including neuro and orthopedic surgery, textile fabrication technology, chemistry and material science (CSIRO, RMIT, Deakin, and UOW). She has co-supervised 15 Ph.D., AMS and Honours students through the University of Melbourne and the University of Wollongong. Dr. Quigley has over 70 peer-reviewed publications and book chapters in molecular biology, medical and materials science journals.

Dr. Anita Quigley will be a speaker at our upcoming Melbourne event.

Jenny: When was the first encounter you had with 3D printing? What was that experience like? What were you thinking at that moment?
Anita: At the University of Wollongong I saw a demonstration of a Stratasys Eden polyjet printer. It was quite a revelation, I had never seen anything like it before. My mind just kept jumping to all the possibilities! I was thinking about how I could use it for my experiments and came up with a tissue culture chamber for some of our experiments that we printed soon after.
Jenny: What inspired you to start your journey/company/career/research in 3D printing (bio-fabrication/bio-printing)?
Anita: Its potential in tissue engineering and medicine. I could see that it could enable us to create complex biological and material based structures that we could never previously have achieved.
Jenny: Who inspired you the most along this journey in 3D printing (bio-printing/bio-fabrication)? This can be a mentor, a patient, a celebrity, anyone basically. You can name more than one as well.
Anita: My colleagues and students have inspired me the most. We have discussions on new applications and new ways of creating 3D printed structures all the time, it’s a constantly evolving area.
Jenny: What motivates you the most for your work?
Anita: The possibility of creating something that can alleviate suffering or improve the quality of life of a patient.
Jenny: What is/are the biggest obstacle(s) in your line of work? If you have conquered them, what were your solutions?
Anita: The biggest obstacle is getting enough funding to expand our activities!
Jenny: If you are granted three wishes by a higher being, what would they be?  
Anita: For Australia to realistically plan to go to 100% renewable energy like many other countries are doing.

An increase in Government investment in R&D. We are ranked very poorly in the world in terms of research investment from the Australian Government.

To have our house renovation finished.

Jenny: What do you think is (are) the biggest challenge(s) in 3D Printing/bio-printing? What do you think the potential solution(s) is (are)?
Anita: In 3D bioprinting, vascularization of larger 3D structures is a big challenge. Also finding a material that is truly biocompatible (no immune response, no toxicity).
Jenny: What advice would you give to a smart driven college student in the “real world”? What bad advice you heard should they ignore?
Anita: Take the initiative for your own development. Volunteer in laboratories to gain experience.
Bad advice: Fake it till you can make it (People with experience will see through it!)
Jenny: If you could have a giant billboard to promote a message to millions and even billions of people in our community (i.e. healthcare 3D printing and bio-fabrication), what message would that be?
Anita: Life is in 3D: Our healthcare should be too.
Jenny: What were/was the best/worst investment you made in 3D printing/bio-printing/bio-fabrication?
Anita: Best Investment: Inkredible Plus 3D Bioprinter. It’s currently our lab workhorse for bioprinting.
Jenny: What was/is the biggest risk you took in your career?
Anita: Not taking an overseas position at Columbia University after my Ph.D. I stayed in Australia for my postdoc.
Jenny: What do you enjoy in your spare time? What are you passionate about outside of your work/3d printing?
Anita: Spending time with my family and watching movies.
Jenny: What is your favorite quote? Why?
Anita: “A person that never made a mistake never tried anything new” – Albert Einstein