Dr Tayla Penny

Tayla Penny from the Neurodevelopment and Neuroprotection Research Group at Hudson Institute

Dr Tayla Penny


PhD student

Research Centre

The Ritchie Centre

Area of study

Neuroscience and stem cells

Year of enrolment


Why did you choose Hudson Institute and your research group?

I chose the Miller/Jenkin lab group for Honours because I had an interest in stem cell therapies and neonatal health and development, which is a combination of themes explored by our group. After completing my honours degree, I found that I was really passionate about the research the group was conducting, which influenced me to stay on for my PhD.

What is your research about and what do you hope to achieve?

The aim of my research is to explore stem cell therapies as a treatment for babies deprived of oxygen during pregnancy or birth. This can cause long-term motor impairment and poor neurological outcomes, which can lead to conditions such as cerebral palsy. Current therapies available for these babies are often ineffective and are only appropriate for babies born at term with no other existing conditions. Because of this, it is important that we develop new treatments for these babies that were deprived of oxygen. For this, we are turning to stem cells derived from umbilical cord blood (UCB), which is usually thrown out as medical waste after birth. I hope that during my PhD I help progress the research behind UCB stem cells, and work towards implementing these cells into clinical trials to help babies who have experienced a rough start to life.

What is it like being a student at Hudson Institute?

Hudson Institute is a fantastic place to be a student. There are a great number of opportunities available to interact with senior researchers as well as clinicians, which helps to put my research into context. There are also so many opportunities to interact with other students, and the Hudson Institute Student Society (HISS) puts on exciting social events, including dumpling nights and trivia nights.

What opportunities have you had at Hudson Institute?

Doing my PhD at Hudson Institute has given me a number of exciting opportunities, including attending interstate and international conferences. Attending these conferences has allowed me to network with important people in my field, and also to present in front of a number of other students and senior researchers.

How will your research help others?

I'm hoping that my research will contribute to new treatments for babies that develop cerebral palsy, which will reduce the neurological deficits that these babies face.