Dr Osvaldo Contreras Saavedra
Conjoint Lecturer

Dr Osvaldo Contreras Saavedra

PhD Biological Sciences mention Cell and Molecular Biology

Pontificia Universidad Católica de Chile

Departamento de Biología Celular y Molecular and Center for Aging and Regeneration

Centre for Rregenerative Medicine, UBC, Canada



Maximum Distinction, 100%

Master of Biological Sciences, mention Cell and Molecular Biology,

Pontificia Universidad Católica de Chile

Departamento de Biología Celular y Molecular and Center for Aging and Regeneration



Maximum Distinction, 96%

Bachelor of Biological Sciences           

Pontificia Universidad Católica de Chile (#1 LatAm University Rankings - QS)

Departamento de Biología Celular y Molecular and Center for Aging and Regeneration



Ranked 1st, Double Distinction , %87


Medicine & Health
School of Clinical Medicine

Postdoctoral Fellow Osvaldo Contreras is a cell biologist and a biomedical researcher studying tissue regeneration and homeostasis loss in mammals with a focus on the stromal and stem cell compartments. After completing his MSc degree, he received his PhD in cell and molecular biology in 2019. His PhD focused on tissue-resident fibro-adipogenic progenitor cell fate, plasticity, and heterogeneity in muscle regeneration and heart repair in Prof. Enrique Brandan's Lab at Pontificia Universidad Católica de Chile with the co-supervision of Prof. Fabio Rossi at the University of British Columbia, Vancouver, Canada. Since his PhD, Osvaldo has focused on comprehending myopathies and myogenic and fibroblast fate determination and differentiation in the context of fibro-fatty deposition, centering on three major signalling pathways: PDGF, TGF-B, and Wnt signalling, and their cross-talk. As a Postdoctoral Scientist, Dr Contreras works on stem cell-based strategies for improving our understanding of heart development and repair under the supervision of Prof. Richard Harvey at the Victor Chang Cardiac Research Institute and holds a Conjoint Lecturer position at UNSW Sydney, Faculty of Medicine and Health.

Victor Chang Cardiac Research Institute, Lowy Packer Building, 405 Liverpool Street, Darlinghurst, NSW 2010
  • Journal articles | 2020
    Contreras O, 2020, 'Hic1 deletion unleashes quiescent connective tissue stem cells and impairs skeletal muscle regeneration', Journal of Cell Communication and Signaling, vol. 14, pp. 131 - 133, http://dx.doi.org/10.1007/s12079-019-00545-3
    Journal articles | 2020
    Contreras O; Soliman H; Theret M; Rossi FMV; Brandan E, 2020, 'TGF-β-driven downregulation of the transcription factor TCF7L2 affects Wnt/β-catenin signaling in PDGFRα+ fibroblasts', Journal of cell science, vol. 133, http://dx.doi.org/10.1242/jcs.242297

Australian Miltenyi Biotech Research Award                                                                                           September 2022
Nominated for Falling Walls Science Breakthroughs of the Year 2022                                                   June 2022
Postdoc Award Highly Commended, Paul Korner Seminar Series                                                         Dec 2021
Victor Chang Cardiac Research Institute, Sydney, Australia
The FEBS Journal Poster of the Day Award, 45th FEBS Virtual Congress, Ljubljana                            July 2021
PDGF-PDGFR network modulates myogenic progenitor fate, migration, and proliferation
IUBMB MilliporeSigma Virtual Meeting Fellowship, to attend the 45th FEBS Congress USD 300        Mar. 2021
International Union of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology (IUBMB)
Elected Junior Reviewer of Journal of Molecular and Cellular Cardiology (JMCC)                                Jan. 2021-Present
Conjoint Lecturer, Faculty of Medicine and Health, University of New South Wales, Sydney, Australia        Jan. 2021-Present
People’s Choice Award-Art of the Heart, IMAGINE: 3D reconstruction of hiPSC derived cardiomyocytes    Dec. 2020
Victor Chang Cardiac Research Institute, Sydney, Australia
Pan Pacific Connective Tissue Societies Symposium Conference Attendance Award                                    Oct. 2020
Matrix Biology & Matrix Biology Plus Journals
Doctoral Prize “Excellence of Doctoral Thesis 2019”, for the best Ph.D. thesis                                              Jan. 2020
Vicerrectoría de Investigación, Pontificia Universidad Católica de Chile                             
Fellowship for International Doctoral Thesis                                                                                                      Jan. 2018
Vicerrectoría de Investigación, Pontificia Universidad Católica de Chile
Operational expenses to support the completion of the Doctoral Thesis, CONICYT                                      2017
Hermann Niemeyer Medal, for the best PhD. Student in Biochemistry and Molecular Biology                     Sep. 2016
Chilean Society for Biochemistry and Molecular Biology
Support for presentation in International Congresses, to attend the Myogenesis GRC Italy                         2015
Vicerrectoría de Investigación, Pontificia Universidad Católica de Chile
Best Image in Cell Biology, First Prize                                                                                                               Oct. 2014
Chilean Society for Cell Biology (SBCCh)
National Doctoral Fellowship, Beca de Doctorado Nacional Folio 21140378                                                 2014-2018
Comisión Nacional de Ciencia y Tecnología (CONICYT), Chile
Excellence Award for Doctoral Studies UC, Best Ph.D. Student                                                                     2014-2018
Vicerrectoría de Investigación, Pontificia Universidad Católica de Chile
Award for Academic Excellence, awarded to the best student to enter the Doctorate                                  2014
Facultad de Ciencias Biológicas, Pontificia Universidad Católica de Chile
Undergraduate Student Excellence Fellowship of Honor, Best Undergraduate Student                               2010
Pontificia Universidad Católica de Chile

Osvaldo studies the cellular and molecular mechanisms underpinning mammalian heart development and congenital heart disease pathophysiology as well as heart repair and fibro-fatty deposition in heart failure and muscle regeneration and repair. His projects aim to extend our recent discoveries using human iPSCs to model hypoplastic left heart (a single-ventricle rare disease), one of the most severe congenital heart abnormalities.

Driving projects:
• Understand the cardiomyocyte cell cycle dynamics,
• Develop 3D IPSC-derived cardiomyocyte organoids,
• Characterise patient and parent organoids using multiple OMICS, robotics and sophisticated imaging and electrophysiology equipment, and
• Test candidate disease gene variants using CRISPR/Cas9 technology
• Characterize a mouse model of heart failure with preserved ejection fraction (HFpEF)
• Develop diverse 2D and 3D cell culture tools to understand fibro-fatty tissue deposition and tissue repair using stromal cells or fibroblasts
• Create an inclusive, equitable, and diverse working environment to supervise young researchers, including summer students, research assistants, honours, and PhD students
I also support a dynamic team of scientists studying heart development and adult heart repair.

Essential skills and techniques developed:
• High-dimensional flow cytometry of stromal and immune cells from different tissues and organs,
• Single-cell RNA sequencing analyses from skeletal muscle and heart tissues,
• High-throughput imaging analysis and high-resolution microscopy of cells and tissues
• Multi-parametric analysis to evaluate cell cycle and proliferation of multiple cell types
• Multitude of cell and molecular biology techniques, including but not limited to cloning, western blot, immunofluorescence, RT-qPCR, and CO-IPs, among others.