Available PhD projects - health

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Chief Investigator Project title Project description Preferred educational background

Professor Kwun Fong

Please contact Annette Dent

annette.dent@health.qld.gov.au

Volatile organic compounds in exhaled breath to diagnose lung disease

This project is intended to lead to the identification and development of non-invasive breath biomarkers for the diagnosis and management of lung disease. The ultimate long-term goal would be to develop a desk-top, convenient point of care test that could be used in the primary care as a stand-alone test or to complement other proven tests for reducing lung disease mortality.

The student will be enrolled through the Faculty of Medicine.

Minimum qualification of Bachelor of Science or equivalent with an honours in biomedical science.

*This project is available December 2019 unless a suitable candidate is found prior.

Dr Amirali Popat

a.popat@uq.edu.au

Designing nanoformulations for oral delivery of macromolecules

Oral route of administration remains the most preferred route for the application of pharmaceuticals, due to its ease of administration and patience compliance. However, oral delivery of many small molecule drugs and most of the peptide drugs is challenging. This results in their limited commercial use, as well as serious clinical development tradeoffs that often result in poor efficacy and side effects associated with it. The overarching aim of this fellowship is to validate our silica nanoparticle-based platforms to deliver macromolecules orally.

Students will enrol through the School of Pharmacy.

Masters in Pharmacy, Biomedical Engineering, Chemistry, Nanomedicine/Nanotechnology

*This project is available September 2019 unless a suitable candidate is found prior.

Dr Maggy Lord

Please direct enquires to Tharanga Kariyawasam:

 

Development of a novel, rapid and non-invasive malaria diagnostic tool

Mosquito-borne diseases such as malaria and dengue affect more than half of the world’s population. Mosquito control and accurate diagnosis is critical for managing outbreaks of these diseases. However, accurate diagnosis in many countries relies on molecular techniques which can be costly and time consuming. Over the last few years my team has been collecting data using alternative diagnostic techniques for these diseases. We are looking for a PhD student with experience and interest in machine learning to develop robust diagnostic models with our existing data.

The project is computer based and the successful student will be enrolled through the Faculty of Medicine, School of Public Health.

The candidate should have a BSc Hons (or equivalent), majoring in machine learning or mathematical modelling

*This project is available until December 2019 unless a suitable candidate is found prior.

Professor Josephine Forbes

Josephine.forbes@mater.uq.edu.au

 

Preventing progression of diabetic kidney disease by targeting mitochondrial function 

Diabetic kidney disease (DKD), is a devastating and costly chronic complication of Type 1 diabetes globally and a major risk factor driving heart attacks and premature death. There is growing evidence that DKD begins as early as adolescence, where subtle subclinical changes can identify those individuals at greatest risk. This provides a unique opportunity to arrest DKD, using targeted medicines at this time. Widely applied clinical medicines given to adults with established DKD target high blood pressure and/or abnormal lipids. Unfortunately, these medicines have failed to prevent DKD in recent clinical trials in “at risk” adolescents with T1D. This suggests that other factors may drive the early development of kidney disease in T1D and these may differ from adults. Hence, there is an unmet need to identify and target these factors with novel medicines to prevent the onset of kidney and subsequent cardiovascular disease. This project will test medicines which target the power stations of the body, the mitochondria which are thought to be dysfunctional early in the development of DKD.  This is with the premise to complete preclinical studies for the translation of these medicines into clinical practice to prevent DKD and reduce the risk of heart attacks and stroke in young people with TID.

The student will be enrolled through the Faculty of Medicine.

  • Bachelor of Biomed Science or equivalent with honours
  • Or 2. MBBS
  • Or 3. Bachelor of Nursing

*This project is available until September 2019 unless a suitable candidate is found prior.

Professor Glenn King

glenn.king@imb.uq.edu.au

Virtuous cycles: a novel cyclic peptide approach to develop neuroprotective and cardioprotective drugs

Stroke and myocardial infarction (MI) are leading causes of death and disability in Australia. Although thrombolytic drugs can be administered pre- and post-hospital admission for MI and stroke, respectively, these drugs are designed to ameliorate the vascular occlusion rather than address the underlying tissue damage caused by the ischemic insult. This application is focussed on development of a new class of drugs that protect the heart and brain following MI and stroke.

Students will enrol through the Institute for Molecular Bioscience.

Honours or MSc degree  in the biological sciences, with a focus on protein and peptide  chemistry.

*This project is available until December 2019 unless a suitable candidate is found prior.

Dr Lisa Kaminskas

l.kaminskas@uq.edu.au

Understanding the kinetics of nanomaterial clearance from the healthy and diseased luings

We currently have a poor understanding of the biopharmaceutical behaviour of nanomedicines after inhaled administration and their safety in the lungs over repeated dosing.  This is concerning given that several inhalable nanomedicines are in late stage clinical trials. The overall goal of this project is to fill these gaps in knowledge using a range of commonly explored nanomaterials.

The student will be enrolled through the Faculty of Medicine.

  • Hons or masters in synthetic organic chemisty, specialising in polymer synthesis and nanomaterial formulation
  • A knowledge of  pharmacokinetics/ pharmacology is preferred.

*This project is available until December 2019 unless a suitable candidate is found prior.

Professor Vicki Flenady

vicki.flenady@mater.uq.edu.au

Assessing the impact of a stillbirth prevention bundle of care for improving best practice for women during pregnancy in Australia

In partnership with health departments across Australia, a bundle of care (Safe Baby Bundle) to address the priority evidence practice gaps in stillbirth preventionwill be developed and implemented nationally.

The goal is to reduce stillbirth rates after 28 weeks' gestation by 20%

The Safe Baby Bundle (SBB) has five elements addressing commonly identified evidence practice gaps.

This specific project is aligned with the fifth element of the SBB and will explore novel strategies to help translate best-evidence into practice for timing of birth for women with risk factors at or near term.

The student will be enrolled through the Faculty of Medicine.

  • Applicants should possess a Bachelor (H1 or H2A) with honours or a Masters Degree majoring in a Science related field.
  • Applicants must have a background in Public Health or Obstetrics or Midwifery

*This project is available until March 2020 unless a suitable candidate is found prior.

Associate Professor Simon Smith

simon.smith@uq.edu.au

Reducing crash risk for young drivers: A randomized control trial to improve sleep

Many young adults are chronically sleep deprived, and restricted sleep duration appears to be the primary contributor to fatigue-related road crashes in young adults. 

This research will test the benefit of a sleep intervention on the driving performance of young adults who are at increased risk for fatigue-related crashes. The trial incorporates a complex, multi-method approach to data collection including continuous ambulatory measurement of sleep-wake and driving behaviour, physiological measurement of state and trait alertness and stress, and laboratory based measures of driving performance.

Students will enrol through the Institute for Social Science Research.

Psychology, Neuropsychology, Social science, Public Health, Epidemiology, or a related discipline (e.g. Medicine) and an Honours degree or equivalent. Must fulfil minimum requirements for entry into the PhD program at UQ.

Experience implementing interventions, and/or  quantitative applied research methods using ambulatory, mobile and/or computerised measures of physiology, driving, risky behaviour, cognition and/or emotion are highly desirable. Relevant data design, collection, management and analytic skills are preferred.

*This project is available until October 2019 unless a suitable candidate is found prior.

Associate Professor Andreas Schibler

a.schibler@uq.edu.au

Has the introduction of a novel oxygen therapy changed patient flow in infants with bronchiolitis?

•    Data based PhD
•    Investigating the impact of Nasal High Flow in Infants with Bronchiolitis, pre, during and post the introduction of Nasal High Flow to Paediatric Wards within regional and tertiary clinical settings.

The student will be enrolled through the Faculty of Medicine.

•    Clinical Paediatric Medical or Nursing research experience.
•    Clinical Paediatric experience within a Critical Care Setting. 
•    Familiar with Nasal High Flow Therapy and its use in Paediatric patients.
•    Strong academic performance.

*This project is available until September 2019 unless a suitable candidate is found prior.

Professor Jian Yang

jian.yang@uq.edu.au

Deciphering the genetic architecture of human complex traits

AIM 1: To predict genetic regulatory mechanisms underpinning variation in complex traits. The goal is to develop and apply statistical methods to integrate GWAS results with omics data in large samples to predict putative gene
targets and regulatory mechanisms of how the genetic variants exert effects on complex traits through regulating the expression levels of genes at functional DNA elements.

AIM 2: To develop and apply statistical methods to large GWAS data for estimating the genetic architecture parameters for complex traits and detecting signatures of natural selection at the trait-associated genetic variants. The signature of natural selection can be inferred by estimating the joint distribution of effect sizes and allele frequencies for all genetic variants.

AIM 3: To quantify the genetic differences in complex traits between populations. This aim attempts to quantify the extent to which the GWAS findings in samples of European ancestry can be applied to non-European populations and to test whether the observed mean differences in complex traits among global populations are caused by genetic differentiation driven by natural selection.

Students will enrol through the Institute for Molecular Bioscience.

Applicants ideally will have completed courses or training in statistical genetics, quantitative genetics, bioinformatics, computer programming statistics or other relevant areas. 

*This project is available until July 2019 unless a suitable candidate is found prior.

Associate Professor Irina Vetter

i.vetter@uq.edu.au

The role of ion channels in pain pathways

Pain is Australia’s third most costly health problem and has been suggested as the developed world’s largest undiscovered health priority, with health expenditure on persistent pain exceeding that of cancer, diabetes, and stroke. The enormous
socioeconomic cost of poorly relieved chronic pain provides a powerful rationale to increase our understanding of the underlying pathophysiology of pain. In recent years, ion channels have received attention as putative analgesic targets due to their crucial role in neuronal excitability, signal transduction and action potential propagation. However, the precise role of specific ion channel isoforms in modality- and disease-specific pain pathways remains unclear. The aim of this project is to systematically define the functional role(s) and therapeutic potential of ion channel isoforms expressed in sensory neurons using pharmacological, electrophysiological and behavioural approaches.

Students will enrol through the Institute for Molecular Bioscience.

Pharmacology
Biomedical Science
Pharmacy
Medicine

*This project is available until September 2019 unless a suitable candidate is found prior.

Associate Professor Brett Collins

b.collins@imb.uq.edu.au

Structural studies of the mechanism of formation of caveolae

Caveolae are plasma membrane invaginations involved in transport, signalling and mechanical membrane sensing in metazoans. The Cavin proteins are absolutely required for the formation of caveolae, and mutations in cavin proteins (and other caveola-coat proteins) lead to human disorders including lipodystrophy and muscular dystrophy. Alterations in cavin protein expression are also implicated in cancer progression due to perturbed cellular signalling. The fundamental mechanisms by which Cavins regulate caveola formation are still largely unknown and this project will provide important new insights into the role of strictly conserved cavin domains in cavin protein functions. The project will involve the use of structural and biophysical methods such as X-ray crystallography, cryoEM and liposome binding assays to analyse cavin structure and function.

Students will enrol through the Institute for Molecular Bioscience.

BSc (Hons) or Masters in biomedical science, cell biology or molecular biology

*This project is available until September 2019 unless a suitable candidate is found prior.

Associate Professor Brett Collins

b.collins@imb.uq.edu.au

Structural studies of endosomal membrane trafficking

Endosomal trafficking involves the assembly of large dynamic protein complexes, and their interactions with cargo receptors and membrane lipids to generate tubulovesicular carriers. One of the major endosomal trafficking assemblies is the “retromer complex”. This forms membrane tubules that incorporate a host of different cargo molecules and is essential for normal cellular protein and membrane homeostasis. In humans, mutations of the retromer complex are involved in both Parkinson’s disease and Alzheimer’s. The Collins lab has recently reported the crystallographic and cryoEM structures of the retromer complex and associated sorting nexin proteins from yeast, and this PhD project will explore the structure and function of the human retromer and sorting nexin proteins, using approaches including X-ray crystallography, cryo electron microscopy and protein-protein interaction studies. Ultimately the goal is to derive a more complete understanding of the molecular mechanisms that control their function in receptor transport and signalling. 

Students will enrol through the Institute for Molecular Bioscience.

BSc (Hons) or Masters in biomedical science, cell biology or molecular biology

*This project is available until September 2019 unless a suitable candidate is found prior.

Dr Emma Gordon

e.gordon@imb.uq.edu.au

Mechanisms to promote vascular normalisation and barrier integrity

Growth and function of vessels is dependent on the coordination of movement and adhesion between individual cells in the vessel wall, yet the signals controlling these actions are unknown. This project will unravel the precise mechanisms by which cells interact during vessel growth induced by disease. 

Students will enrol through the Institute for Molecular Bioscience.

BSc (Hons) or Masters in biomedical science, cell biology or molecular biology

*This project is available until September 2019 unless a suitable candidate is found prior.

Dr Merja Joensuu

m.joensuu@uq.edu.au

Professor Frederic Meunier

f.meunier@uq.edu.au

Super-resolution study on membrane trafficking

1. To study the effects of free fatty acids on membrane trafficking in neurons and neurosecretory cells

2.  Super-resolution study on the intoxification strategies of neurotoxins in neurons

Students will enrol through the Queensland Brain Institute.

M.Phil or MSc on cell biology or neurobiology

*This project is available until October 2019 unless a suitable candidate is found prior.

Dr Sherry Wu

sherry.wu@uq.edu.au

Harnessing the immune system to battle ovarian cancer: A novel approach using naturally occurring exosomes

The high recurrence rate represents a major challenge in the clinical management of high grade serous ovarian cancer (>85%). While the ability to
stimulate our own immune system to attack tumour cells is an attractive means to facilitate complete elimination of tumours, it has been reported that only ~30% of ovarian tumours have infiltrating cytotoxic T-cells. The overall goal of this proposal is to develop effective and clinically translatable
strategies to enhance anti-tumour immunity in ovarian cancer and to sensitize ovarian tumours to immune therapy. In addition, we aim to further develop a biocompatible RNAi nucleotide delivery strategy using naturally occurring exosomes to effectively target important immunosuppressive genes that are otherwise undruggable.

Students will enrol through the School of Biomedical Sciences.

Science or Allied Health educational background

*This project is available until June 2019 unless a suitable candidate is found prior.

Dr Tushar Kumeria

t.kumeria@uq.edu.au

Bioresponsive Porous Silicon for Site Specific Oral Delivery of Antibodies for the Treatment of Inflammatory Bowel Disease

This proposal aims to develop an oral antibody delivery system for treatment of inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) that affects 75000 Australians. The system will be based on porous silicon nanoparticles acting as container to protect the antibodies, and bioresponsive coatings acting as gates to enable site specific protein delivery at the inflamed site of GI tract. The project not only holds promise for protein delivery for the treatment of IBD but other diseases like diabetes. 

Students will enrol through the School of Pharmacy.

Materials engineering, porous nanomaterials, drug delivery, protein/biologics delivery. 

*This project is available until June 2019 unless a suitable candidate is found prior.

Dr Karan Gulati

k.gulati@uq.edu.au

Nano-Engineered Dental Implants towards Tailored Therapy

Electrochemical anodization of commercial dental implants towards fabrication of controlled nanotopography and investigation of various cellular responses in vitro, ex vivo and in vivo. The aim is to design a customizable therapeutic dental implant system with ability to target conditions directly inside the dental microenvironment.

Students will enrol through the School of Dentistry.

Bachelors and Masters in Biomedical Engineering, Biotechnology, Biomaterial Science or Nanotechnology. 

Expertise in cell culture and prior research experience.

*This project is available until June 2019 unless a suitable candidate is found prior.

Dr Daniel Watterson

d.watterson@uq.edu.au

Structural insights into the flavivirus NS1 protein.

This project aims to generate new broad-spectrum human antibodies as potential therapies for both dengue and Zika virus infections. Using a combination of state of the art structural biology techniques together with preclinical disease models, this project will identify key regions within the NS1 protein that drive pathogenesis. Critical epitopes will then be targeted using a phage display human antibody library to generate next-generation biological therapeutics to combat these important human pathogens.

Students will enrol through the School of Chemistry and Molecular Biosciences.

Candidates should have a BSc Hons (or equivalent), majoring in a relevant discipline (virology, immunology, molecular or structural biology). One or more peer reviewed publication, prior experience with molecular cloning and protein expression/purification. Working with either murine models or structural biology techniques (electron microscopy / x-ray crystallography) would be ideal.

*This project is available until June 2019 unless a suitable candidate is found prior.

Dr Daniel Watterson

d.watterson@uq.edu.au

Structure of pathogenic flaviviruses by cryo-EM

Advances in cryo-electron microscopy (cryo-EM) make it now possible to solve the 3D structure of a virus particle within the timeframe of an outbreak, offering the potential to rapidly develop new vaccines and therapies against emerging viral pathogens. The major limits to structural determination now lie in virus isolation, safe lab handling and propagation. This project will overcome these issues using a new chimeric flavivirus technology that allows the production of virus particles that resemble the pathogenic viruses from which they were constructed, but are safe for human handling. This project will use this platform to reveal the structure of several unsolved and highly pathogenic flaviviruses by cryo-EM, providing a rational basis for the development of viral countermeasures.

Students will enrol through the School of Chemistry and Molecular Biosciences.

Candidates should have a BSc Hons (or equivalent), majoring in a relevant discipline (virology, molecular and structural biology).   One or more peer reviewed publication, prior experience with molecular cloning and protein expression/purification.  Knowledge and any practical experience with structural biology techniques (electron microscopy / x-ray crystallography) would be ideal.

*This project is available until June 2019 unless a suitable candidate is found prior.

Dr Rachel Stephenson

r.stephenson@uq.edu.au

Developing an effective vaccine against Group A Streptococcus

Globally Australian Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders have the highest recorded rate of Group A Streptococcus (GAS) infection, mainly rheumatic heart disease and rheumatic fever. GAS infection is endemic and often fatal due to post-infection problems. This project aims to develop a glycoconjugate vaccine to prevent GAS infection. We aim to avert these deaths by making a vaccine from small, specific parts of GAS proteins so the body makes safe antibodies that stop GAS and its related diseases.

Students will enrol through the School of Chemistry and Molecular Biosciences.

BSc Honours or Masters (or equivalent) in Medicinal chemistry or related discipline.

*This project is available until June 2019 unless a suitable candidate is found prior.

Professor Elizabeth Coulson

e.coulson@uq.edu.au

Mechanisms and effects of cholinergic dysfunction in Alzheimer’s disease Several aspects to the grant that could form a PhD project:
  1. Using electrophysiology to Understand how neurotrophins regulate cholinergic neuronal-mediated synaptic plasticity and cognitive processes.
  2. Using mouse models to understand why cholinergic neurons degenerate in sleep apnoea and how this a risk factor for Alzheimer’s disease.
  3. Using MRI imaging of mice and humans to understand whether cholinergic neurons control cerebral blood flow, network activity and or the glymphatic system.
Students will enrol through the School of Biomedical Sciences.

Science or medical background.
Degree and Honours or Masters or equivalent research experience.

Depending on the project, some relevant research experience in electrophysiology, animal surgery and histology, or MRI analysis or method development


*This project is available until June 2019 unless a suitable candidate is found prior.

Professor Walter Thomas

w.thomas@uq.edu.au

How tissues generate the peptide hormone angiotensin II

The circulatory renin–angiotensin system (RAS) produces a peptide (AngII) to control blood pressure, and fluid/salt balance. Many tissues (e.g., brain, heart) also possess an independent, tissue RAS, but how these function has evaded researchers. Based on new data, we now define a model whereby infiltrating macrophages (following damage to the heart) drive the activation of this system to trigger the local generation of AngII. This project addresses the question of where exactly in the heart the RAS components are turned on, how they interact to generate AngII and whether the activation of the local RAS is beneficial or not to cardiac function.

Students will enrol through the School of Biomedical Sciences.

BSc Hons or equivalent

*This project is available until June 2019 unless a suitable candidate is found prior.

Professor Peter Soyer

p.soyer@uq.edu.au

Implementation of an innovative teledermatology network for the early detection of melanoma in high risk Australians

Range of projects across a variety of educational backgrounds exploring the impact of the innovative teledermatology network on the early detection of melanoma. Examples of potential projects include bio-statistical analysis of clinical outcomes in control vs intervention group, assessing the psychological impact of the intervention, and exploring telehealth aspects of the project.

Students will enrol through the Faculty of Medicine.

health and/or medical science, bio-statistical,  psychological,
computing/ICT

*This project is available until April 2019 unless a suitable candidate is found prior.

Dr Barbara Rolfe

d.rolfe@uq.edu.au

Targeting the innate immune system: a novel immunotherapeutic strategy for cancer

This project  will investigate the potential of complement system as a therapeutic target for the treatment of brain cancer.

Students will enrol through the Australian Institute for Bioengineering and Nanotechnology (AIBN).

MSc in Immunology and Inflammation; with knowledge of  neuroimmunology and neuroinflammation.

*This project is available until July 2019 unless a suitable candidate is found prior.

Dr Quan Nguyen

quan.nguyen@uq.edu.au

Molecular characterization of development and disease through single cell regulatory networks

This project aims to use single-cell gene regulation networks to predict cell types and cell states in healthy and disease tissues. Computational approaches are needed to recapitulate how the over 37 trillion cells program the shared genome sequence in a human body to create astoundingly diverse forms and functions. This project integrates millions of high-resolution single-cell gene expression profiles with large-scale population regulatory data to systematically reconstruct gene regulatory networks. These networks are the molecular basis for understanding human cells, which should contribute to the unprecedented ability to control and reprogram cells, to detect aberrant cells, and to understand how cells respond to the environment. Particularly, this project will contribute to studying cancer cell types and cell states at single-cell levels.

Students will enrol through the Institute for Molecular Bioscience.

Computational biologist with experience in programming and gene expression analysis

*This project is available until September 2019 unless a suitable candidate is found prior.

Two students are sought. One will be funded directly from Dr Quan Nguyen's ARC DECRA and the other will be funded under UQ's capacity building scheme.

Dr Quan Nguyen

quan.nguyen@uq.edu.au

Molecular characterization of primary tissues by single cell spatial transcriptomics

This project aims to use innovative single-cell spatial sequencing of intact tissues to study heterogeneity in cell types and cell states within the tissues.   This project will comprehensively integrate single-cell and population genetics with spatial transcriptomics, a novel information dimension that is just beginning to be measured through recent advance in genomics technology. Traditional machine learning approaches and recent deep learning methods will be applied for data analysis. This approach aims to computationally reconstruct biological regulatory networks between genes and between cells, which underlie development (e.g. aging) and diseases (e.g. cancer). The systematic understanding of regulatory networks and biomarkers that are specific to individuals and cell types in physiological context will contribute to early disease diagnosis, targeted drug discovery and precision medicine.

Students will enrol through the Institute for Molecular Bioscience.

Computational biologist with experience in programming and gene expression analysis

*This project is available until September 2019 unless a suitable candidate is found prior.

Two students are sought. One will be funded directly from Dr Quan Nguyen's ARC DECRA and the other will be funded under UQ's capacity building scheme.

Associate Professr Nick West

n.west@uq.edu.au

Blocking TB Latency: The Key to Reducing Therapy Duration

To assess the contribution of specific genetic regulators in the TB bacterium and how they cause disease. Project will examine the host cellular response to TB.

Students will enrol through the School of Chemistry and Molecular Biosciences.

BSc Hons
BSc MSc
BBioMed

*This project is available until July 2019 unless a suitable candidate is found prior.

Professor David Fairlie

d.fairlie@imb.uq.edu.au

 

Dr Abishek Iyer

a.iyer@imb.uq.edu.au

Targeting the cell surface in Immunometabolism

This project will investigate new insights into the interplay between inflammation and metabolism in the pathogenesis of diseases including cancers. Ancient pathways link these physiological responses to nutrients and danger signals and provide important clues to drug discovery through effects of intervening in signal transduction on inflammatory diseases and cancers. 

Students will enrol through the Institute for Molecular Bioscience.

A degree in Science or Biomed or Biotech (BSc Hons/Masters).


A background or experience in biochemistry, cell biology, endocrinology, pharmacology, or immunology would be an advantage.

*This project is available until March 2019 unless a suitable candidate is found prior.

Professor Robert Parton

r.parton@uq.edu.au

Structural and Functional Analysis of Plasma Membrane Microdomains in Health and Disease

Surface pits called caveolae have been linked to diseases such as muscular dystrophy and cancer. We have shown that caveolae can be disassembled in response to multiple stresses, releasing proteins called cavins into the cell. This project will examine how caveolae are disassembled and identify cavin-interacting components.

Students will enrol through the Institute for Molecular Bioscience.

BScHons in biological sciences

*This project is available until December 2019 unless a suitable candidate is found prior.

Dr Victor Anggono

v.anggono@uq.edu.au

Regulation of glutamate receptor dynamics in mammalian central neurons

This project aims to understand the molecular mechanisms of neuronal communication and how neurons modify their synaptic strength. The student will combine biochemical, molecular and cell biological techniques to provide mechanistic insights into the molecular processes that control glutamate receptor trafficking in the postsynaptic compartments.

Students will enrol through the Queensland Brain Institute.

Honours First Class or Masters by Research. 
A background in Biochemistry & Molecular Biology, Cell Biology, Neuroscience or related disciplines would be advantageous.

*This project is available until December 2019 unless a suitable candidate is found prior.
 

Professor Paul Alewood

Dr Markus Muttenthaler

m.muttenthaler@imb.uq.edu.au

Oxytocin and Vasopressin Ligand Development

The oxytocin and vasopressin signalling system regulates many physiological processes such as reproduction, water balance, cardiovascular responses and complex social behaviour. It is also a target for breast and prostate cancer. This project is about developing advanced probes to study this signalling system and to develop therapeutic and diagnostic leads for cancer management.

Students will enrol through the Institute for Molecular Bioscience.

Medicinal Chemistry
Peptide Chemistry
Chemical Biology
Pharmacology
Oncology
 

*This project is available until August 2019 unless a suitable candidate is found prior.

Professor Paul Alewood

Dr Christina Schroeder

Dr Markus Muttenthaler

m.muttenthaler@imb.uq.edu.au

Venom peptide drug discovery

Venoms comprise a highly complex cocktail of bioactive peptides evolved to paralyse prey and defend against predators. Homology of prey/predator receptors to human receptors render these venom peptides also active on human receptors and they have become a rich source for neurological tools and therapeutics. This project is involved in the discovery, synthesis and structure-activity relationship studies of these venom peptides with the goal to develop novel probes for neuroscientists as well as therapeutic drug leads.

Students will enrol through the Institute for Molecular Bioscience.

Chemistry
Chemical Biology
Bioinformatics
Pharmacology
 

*This project is available until October 2019 unless a suitable candidate is found prior.

Professor Glenn King

glenn.king@imb.uq.edu.au

Gain from pain: new tools from venomous animals for exploring pain pathways

Many venomous animals use their venom defensively and envenomation is frequently associated with rapid and often excruciating pain. In most cases the molecular mechanisms by which they achieve this is unknown. A diverse array of biochemical, pharmacological and biophysical techniques will be used to explore animal venoms for new pain-causing toxins, to determine their structure and mechanism of action. This project is likely to uncover toxins that employ new mechanisms of pain signalling, leading to new insights into pain physiology.

Students will enrol through the Institute for Molecular Bioscience.

Honours or MSC degree  in the biological sciences, with a focus on protein and peptide  chemistry. Experience with venomous invertebrates would be  a distinct advantage, as would be familiarity with venom proteomics.

*This project is available until August 2019 unless a suitable candidate is found prior.

Professor Glenn King

glenn.king@imb.uq.edu.au

Development of a first-in-class neuroprotective drug for protecting the brain after stroke

We have developed a peptide drug (Hi1a) that prevents stroke-induced brain damage. Hi1a is the most potent known inhibitor of acid-sensing ion channel 1a (ASIC1a), which is robustly activated during stroke-induced cerebral acidosis. Inhibition of ASIC1a by Hi1a prevents the neuronal death caused by ASIC1a activation. We plan to conduct preclinical safety and efficacy studies with Hi1a to develop a data package for supporting its registration as an Investigational New Drug (IND). We will optimise the dose and mode of administration of Hi1a, determine its optimal and maximal therapeutic time window, and examine its performance across a range of ischemic and haemorrhagic stroke models.

Students will enrol through the Institute for Molecular Bioscience.

Honours or MSC degree  in the biological sciences, with a focus on protein and peptide  chemistry.

*This project is available until August 2019 unless a suitable candidate is found prior.

Associate Professor Dominic Ng

d.ng1@uq.edu.au

Photoswitch control of protein kinase signalling using optogenetic approaches

Protein kinases promote phosphorylation reactions and are integral components of the signal transduction circuitry that controls all aspects of cellular physiology. Traditional methods of studying kinase function and regulation are limited by the highly complex and integrated nature of intracellular signalling pathways.

The project will develop an optogenetic system for photoswitch control of protein-protein interactions as a tool to precisely manipulate the activation of protein kinases signalling modules and subsequent phosphorylation cascades with precise spatio-temporal control.

This new strategy will better define the role of signal transduction pathways in determining cell fate and their contributions in pathomechanisms underlying devastating diseases such as cancer and degenerative conditions.

Students will enrol through the School of Biomedical Sciences.

Honours First Class or Masters by Research. 

A background in Biochemistry & Molecular Biology, Cell Biology, Pharmacology, Biophysics or related disciplines would be advantageous.

*This project is available until July 2019 unless a suitable candidate is found prior.

Associate Professor Dominic Ng

d.ng1@uq.edu.au

Novel centrosomal mechanisms required for brain growth

Centrosomes are small, non-membranous organelles that are central hubs in orchestrating cytoskeletal and intracellular signalling networks required for a surprising range of cellular functions. Defects in centrosome function is genetically linked to human microcephaly, a neurological condition characterized by reduced thickness of the developing forebrain.

This project will define how a new centrosome protein complex contributes to the regulation of neural stem cell proliferation and expansion of the neocortex. 

Students will enrol through the School of Biomedical Sciences.

Honours First Class or Masters by Research. 

A background in Biochemistry & Molecular Biology, Cell Biology, Physiology, Molecular Neuroscience or related would be advantageous.

*This project is available until July 2019 unless a suitable candidate is found prior.

 

Professor David Craik

d.craik@imb.uq.edu.au

Developing Factor XIIa inhibitors as new leads for preventing thrombosis

Existing drugs used to prevent blood clots have a range of side effects, including the risk of uncontrolled bleeding after an injury. This project will use naturally-occurring peptides found in plant seeds as a starting point for developing new drugs that only target blood clotting that causes disease. A series of peptides will be produced in our laboratory, then tested for their activity against an enzyme implicated in disease-related blood clotting and in several blood clotting assays.

Students will enrol through the Institute for Molecular Bioscience.

Molecular biology; Chemistry

*This project is available until September 2019 unless a suitable candidate is found prior.

Dr Leanne Sakzewski

l.sakzewski1@uq.edu.au

 

Novel rehabilitation to improve outcomes for children with cerebral palsy A number of projects are available across two funded NHMRC clinical trials:
  • Efficacy of intensive bimanual training on bimanual hand skills and goal attainment in children with bilateral cerebral palsy  
  • Efficacy of intensive lower extremity training on gross motor function, walking efficiency and mobility
  • The relationship between clinical outcomes and neuroplasticity following intensive upper and lower extremity training in children with bilateral cerebral palsy  
  • The relationship between capacity, participation and habitual physical activity in children with cerebral palsy  
Students will enrol through the Faculty of Medicine.

Occupational therapy or physiotherapy

*This project is available until December 2019 unless a suitable candidate is found prior.

Associate Professor Ray Steptoe

r.steptoe@uq.edu.au

Targeting antigens to DC for tolerance induction in a humanised mouse model

This project will explore mechanisms of human immune cell development and or human immune cell function in rodents models carrying human immune systems.  Techniques and areas may include hematopoiesis, hematopoietic stem cell transplantation, gene therapy, immunology and therapy of type 1 diabetes.

Students will enrol through the Faculty of Medicine.

BSc(Hons I) or MSc

*This project is available until December 2019 unless a suitable candidate is found prior.

Associate Professor Ray Steptoe

r.steptoe@uq.edu.au

Reducing toxicity of protocols for human hematopoietic stem cell transplantation

This project will explore new, non-toxic approaches for bone marrow transplant in humans.  Techniques and areas may include hematopoiesis, hematopoietic stem cell transplantation, gene therapy, immunology and therapy of type 1 diabetes.

Students will enrol through the Faculty of Medicine.

BSc(Hons I) or MSc

*This project is available until December 2019 unless a suitable candidate is found prior.

Professor Istvan Toth

i.toth@uq.edu.au

Development of new peptide based delivery system for GAS vaccine

Vaccines are the most effective intervention against infectious diseases. Classical whole organism based vaccination is not always effective and safe, while subunit-based vaccines are poorly immunogenic and need help of an adjuvant. However, many adjuvants are not effective immune stimulators or too toxic for human use.

Therefore, the aim for this project is to develop a novel delivery system with self-adjuvanting properties using unique peptide sequences which are able to self-assemble into nanoparticles. To examine the efficacy of this delivery system, the one or more peptide epitopes from group A streptococcal (GAS) M-protein will be conjugated to the synthesized delivery system to form a peptide-based subunit vaccine. The resulted constructs will be self-assembled to form nanoparticles as well as be incorporated into liposomes. These nanoparticles and liposomes will be examined towards their stability, toxicity, and ability to be recognized by antigen presenting cells in vitro. The most promising candidates will be evaluated in vivo for ability to induce humoral immune responses against GAS. Following initial screening of delivery systems second generation of self-assembled peptides will be generated and examined as vaccine delivery systems. Finally, challenge and opsonization experiments will be performed to determine the most effective delivery system.

Students will enrol through the School of Chemistry and Molecular Biosciences.

Applicants must hold a 1st Class Honours degree for Masters degree (or equivalet in medicinal chemistry or related fields.

Undergraduate training in synthesis and characterisation of peptides, immunology and experience in work with animals is essential.

Additional background in production and characterisation of lipsomes and nanoparticles, while not essential, would be advantageous

*This project is available until December 2019 unless a suitable candidate is found prior.

Dr Sherry Wu

sherry.wu@uq.edu.au

Re-activating anti-tumour immunity by targeting N-MYC-Lec7 axis in ovarian cancer

Ovarian cancer is the most deadly type of gynaecologic disease, with more than 1500 new cases being diagnosed each year in Australia. Sadly, the five-year survival rate is only 45%. While the majority of ovarian cancer patients respond to surgery, chemotherapy or some other treatments, most patients eventually experience disease progression resulting in their death. The goal of this research is to investigate ways to enhance the activity of immune cells in our body such that they can start recognising and attacking ovarian tumour cells. This can ultimately lead to decreased recurrence rate and improved patient survival.

Students will enrol through the School of Biomedical Sciences.

Science or Allied Health educational background

*This project is available until February 2019 unless a suitable candidate is found prior.

Professor Peter Visscher

peter.visscher@uq.edu.au

The contribution of coding variants to complex trait variation

The Project will use state-of-the-art computational and statistical methods to address a number of scientific questions:

  1. (how much variation in common diseases (such as type 2 diabetes and asthma) can be explained by coding variants?
  2. what is the contribution of regulatory vs coding variants to complex trait variation?
  3. which genes are associated with trait-specific variation?
  4. how pleiotropic are coding variants?

Statistical methods and software tools that will be used in the Project are from the Visscher-Yang-Wray groups and from other sources. When necessary, the Project will create new software tools to address specific questions.

Students will enrol through the Institute for Molecular Bioscience.

Computer science, econometrics, statistical genetics

*This project is available until September 2019 unless a suitable candidate is found prior.

Professor Stephen Mahler

S.Mahler@eng.uq.edu.au

Dr Christopher Howard

c.howard2@uq.edu.au

Development of novel bio-conjugation strategies for targeting polymeric nanomedicines for cancer imaging and diagnostics

This project will focus on the isolation, development and characterisation of novel antibodies and antibody-nanomaterial conjugates for application in diagnostics, imaging and therapy.

Students will enrol through the Australian Institute for Bioengineering and Nanotechnology (AIBN).

Biochemistry, Protein/Antibody Engineering

*This project is available until December 2019 unless a suitable candidate is found prior.

Dr Enda Byrne

e.byrne@imb.uq.edu.au

 

Post-partum depression: Action towards causes and treatment

The project will use genetic data combined with data from a large, detailed online survey to investigate genetic and non-genetic risk factors for postpartum depression. These risk factors will be compared with those for depression occurring outside of the postpartum period. In addition, variation in response to treatment will be investigated. 

The project will involve statistical analysis of large datasets in a high-performance computing environment.

Students will enrol through the Institute for Molecular Bioscience.

Students with a background in genetics, psychiatry, statistics/mathematics, and/or computer programming will be considered. 

*This project is available until September 2019 unless a suitable candidate is found prior.

Dr Julia Pagan

j.pagan@uq.edu.au

Regulation of cell proliferation and survival by the ubiquitin system

This proposal seeks to provide the foundation for understanding how the fundamental processes of cell division
and cell death are controlled at the molecular level by ubiquitin ligase enzymes. It is anticipated that the
completion of this work will lead to the identification of several new signalling pathways operating within the cell to
control the degradation of proteins involved in cell proliferation, cell fitness, and cell death.

Students will enrol through the School of Biomedical Sciences.

Hon Class I
Biochemistry, cell biology, molecular biology, physiology, or related

*This project is available until December 2019 unless a suitable candidate is found prior.

 

Dr Seth Cheetham

seth.cheetham@mater.uq.edu.au

Deciphering global and locus-specific regulation of LINE-1 retrotransposons in cancer

In cancer, but not healthy cells, ~100 L1 “jumping genes” can copy and paste themselves into the human genome. L1s can contribute to cancer initiation by activating oncogenes and inactivating tumour suppressor genes and can drive tumour evolution, underpinning resistance to chemotherapy. This project aims to determine the cause of L1 activation in cancer. This project will identify novel factors that regulate L1 expression in cancer, transforming our understanding of the mechanism of L1 activation. As L1 expression is highly correlated with cancer severity, these factors may hold important prognostic and diagnostic value.

Students will enrol through the Faculty of Medicine.

Molecular biology, biochemistry, genomics

*This project is available until September 2019 unless a suitable candidate is found prior.

Professor Alpha Yap

a.yap@imb.uq.edu.au

How caveolae condition tissue mechanics for an anti-tumour niche

In this project we examine how epithelial tissue mechanics are influenced by caveolae; and how this may influence the early stages of cancer development.

Students will enrol through the Institute for Molecular Bioscience.

Experience in cell biology, biology and/or imaging.

*This project is available until July 2019 unless a suitable candidate is found prior.

Dr Nadeeka Dissanayaka

n.dissanayaka@uq.edu.au

Anxiety in persons with dementia

One in two persons with dementia experience anxiety. Anxiety often coexists with depression and is a significant contributor to a poor quality of life, increased progression and early institutionalisation. This project will investigate anxiety in persons with dementia using an existing dataset, and develop and test a psychological package to combat anxiety in persons with dementia attending hospital outpatient clinics. The package will include virtual reality, telehealth and online health modalities to increase access and effectiveness of the treatment.

Students will enrol through the Faculty of Medicine.

A background in Psychology,  Software engineering, web development and virtual reality is desirable.

*This project is available until July 2019 unless a suitable candidate is found prior.

Dr Nadeeka Dissanayaka

n.dissanayaka@uq.edu.au

Virtual Reality in Residential Aged Care

Virtual reality (VR) is an emerging field within residential aged care for the management of behavioural and psychological symptoms in residents. This project will develop and test a suit of VR applications in RAC facilities.

Students will enrol through the Faculty of Medicine.

A background in Psychology, design and virtual reality applications is desirable.

*This project is available until December 2019 unless a suitable candidate is found prior.

Associate Professor Kate Stacey

katryn.stacey@uq.edu.au

Toll-like receptor 4 signalling in the pathology of dengue virus infection

Mosquito-borne dengue virus is a major health threat in tropical areas. We found that the virus causes pathology in a similar manner to some bacterial infections via a cell surface receptor called TLR4. We have used drugs to block TLR4 and this greatly reduced disease severity in a mouse model of infection. This project further investigates the mechanism of action of TLR4 in dengue pathology, and aims to explore TLR4 antagonists as a therapy to help reduce the severity of dengue disease and need for hospitalisation.

Students will enrol through the School of Chemistry and Molecular Biosciences.

Candidates should have an Honours or Masters (or equivalent) degree in biochemistry, molecular biology, virology, microbiology or immunology.

*This project is available until June 2019 unless a suitable candidate is found prior.

Professor Istvan Toth

i.toth@uq.edu.au

Development of new adjuvants and vaccine delivery systems

Vaccine is highly efficient medical intervention to prevent infectious diseases and reduce related morbidity and mortality worldwide.  Peptide vaccine are able to induce very specific and safe immune responses; however, the need to be administered with strong adjuvants. Adjuvants such as Lipid A are very efficient to stimulated humoral immunity against co-administered antigen. The same time Lipid A is very toxic. To overcome this issue, new analogues of lipid A are proposed here. Lipid A toxicity will be reduced by elimination of phosphate group from its structure and by replacement of lipidic moieties with special self-assembling peptides (similar to transmembrane fragments of proteins). Several derivatives will be synthesized and examined in vitro and in vivo towards inducing immune responses. Leading derivatives will be also examined as part of self-adjuvanting liposomal delivery system (anchoring to membrane in similar way as transmembrane fragment of protein). The sytem will be used to make new vaccine against Goup A Streptococcus.

Students will enrol through the School of Chemistry and Molecular Biosciences.

Biological / medicinal chemistry

*This project is available until December 2019 unless a suitable candidate is found prior.

Dr Mark Blaskovich

m.blaskovich@uq.edu.au

Lipopeptide antibiotics for XDR Gram-negative infections

The polymyxins are a drug class considered to be a last-resort treatment option for multidrug-resistant (MDR) and extremely drug resistant (XDR) Gram-negative infections. Unfortunately resistance is rapidly developing against these antibiotics, leaving no effective therapies and resulting in patient death. This project aims to develop an antibiotic with superior spectra of action and improved safety profiles compared to the polymyxins, with activity against polymyxin-resistant bacteria. It is based on a related class called the octapeptins, for which we recently published the first synthesis (Cell Chemical Biology, 2018. DOI: 10.1016/j.chembiol.2018.01.005; Biorg. Med. Chem. Lett. 2017, 27, 2407). This project will conduct additional structure-activity relationship studies with associated microbiological and ADMET testing.

Students will enrol through the Institute for Molecular Bioscience.

Medicinal chemistry with strong synthetic chemistry background; peptide chemistry a benefit. This project is cross disciplinary, and a background or aptitude to also conduct biological testing (MIC assays, cytotoxicity, protein binding, plasma and microsomal stability, confocal microscopy) would be beneficial.

Professor John Fraser

Contact Dr Jacky Suen

j.suen1@uq.edu.au

The Dead Heart Project – when is a ‘dead heart’ truly dead?

This project aims to improve the number and quality of donor hearts available for transplantation. This aim will be addressed by investigating an alternative donor heart storage device, and a new source of donor hearts.

Students will enrol through the Faculty of Medicine.

Biomedical science, physiology, molecular biology.

Professor Grant Montgomery

g.montgomery1@uq.edu.au

Shared genetics and functional mechanisms underlying female reproductive disorders and related diseases

The human endometrium plays a vital role in female fertility, embryo implantation, pregnancy and related diseases. Current studies integrate genetic, RNA-sequence and epigenetic data to understand how genetic variants control gene regulation and disease risk. The aim of this project is to integrate locally and externally accessible omic datasets to determine the genetic and epigenetic overlap between loci associated with endometrial gene regulation endometriosis, other female reproductive disorders such as ovarian cancer, and related diseases including melanoma. Overlap in genomic risk loci will be tested using recently developed statistical and computational genomics tools. Shared risk loci will be fine mapped to identify potential shared casual mechanisms.

Students will enrol through the Institute for Molecular Bioscience.

Students with a background in genomics, computational and statistical genetics and/or bioinformatics are encouraged to apply.

Professor Maher Gandhi

m.gandhi@uq.edu.au

Integrating immunity and genetics in Follicular Lymphoma to establish a prognostic score fit for the modern era

A novel study of immunity and genetics in clinical samples involving Follicular Lymphoma.

Students will enrol through the Faculty of Medicine.

MBBS, Experience in clinical and laboratory haematology. Prior publications in the field of haematology desirable.

Dr Felicity Davis

f.davis@uq.edu.au

Identifying and exploiting novel pharmacological targets for breast cancer treatment

Breast cancers are made up of different types of cancer cells and not all cells contribute equally. A subset of cancer cells may be uniquely capable of driving tumour growth, rebuilding fatal tumours after therapy and establishing new tumours at distant sites. New therapies to inhibit the activity and survival of these cells will lead to better modes of treatment and accelerate progress toward ending breast cancer.

Students will enrol through the Faculty of Medicine.

Pharmacology, signal transduction, physiology, stem cells

Professor Zhi Ping Xu

gordonxu@uq.edu.au

What are key physicochemical properties of nanomaterials determining their disposal by liver cells?

This project aims to understand how  nanomaterials in the body are handled by the liver, and have what adverse effects in naïve and modified livers in relation to nanomaterial’s defined attributes (size, shape, charge and deformability) using state-of-the-art chemistry, imaging and biological methods.

Students will enrol through the Australian Institute for Bioengineering and Nanotechnology (AIBN).

Engineering, Health

Professor Michael Roberts

m.roberts@uq.edu.au

Physiologically-based pharmacokinetics and pharmacodynamics of therapeutic stem cells for liver disease

Time course and targeting of stem cells to damaged livers as a result of liver disease.

Students will enrol through the Faculty of Medicine.

Background in science, medicine, pharmacy or related field with an interest in biochemistry, physiology, and possibly mathematical modelling

Dr Gabriel Cuellar Partida

g.cuellarpartida@uq.edu.au

Development of bioinformatics methods and applications aimed at dissecting the basis of complex traits and diseases

The aim of this project is to develop bioinformatics methods that integrate genotypic, DNA methylation and gene expression data to investigate the role of genomic imprinting on complex traits and disease.

Students will enrol through the Faculty of Medicine.

Bioinformatics, Software engineering, Genetics, Statistics, Epidemiology

Professor David Evans

d.evans1@uq.edu.au

Using Statistical Techniques in Genetic Epidemiology to Investigate the Developmental Origins of Health and Disease (DOHaD)

There is a well-documented observational relationship between low birthweight infants and increased risk of disease in later life (e.g. type 2 diabetes, hypertension, cardiovascular disease, and many more). This inverse association was initially interpreted as resulting from developmental compensations to an adverse intrauterine environment, which in turn led to long-term changes to offspring physiology and increased susceptibility to disease. This theory was christened the “Developmental Origins of Health and Disease” (DOHaD) and has been one of the preeminent paradigms in life-course epidemiology over the last thirty years. The aim of this project is to investigate the DOHaD hypothesis using a variety of statistical techniques including genome-wide association, Mendelian randomization and G-REML approaches in large scale datasets such as the UK Biobank Study.

Students will enrol through the Faculty of Medicine.

Epidemiology, Statistics, Genetics, Psychology

*This project is available until June 2019 unless a suitable candidate is found prior.

Dr Xiaowen Liang

x.liang@uq.edu.au

Visualisation and early prediction of ROS-mediated treatment response in liver cancer by a novel nanoplatform

Change of tumour microenvironment has potential to serve as an early predictor of drug efficacy. This proposed project aims to develop a new technology to accurately measure tumour microenvironment during treatment, and to explore the correlation between this potential predicator and tumour growth. This technology would significantly improve the patient prognosis by revealing non-response to chemotherapeutics early and allowing the timely administration of alternative therapies.

Students will enrol through the Faculty of Medicine.

Biomedicine and Biological Science /pharmacology

Dr Andrew Brooks

a.brooks@uq.edu.au

HLA-G/H2-Bl is Critical for Regulating Inflammation in the Liver

The key factor to induction of liver fibrosis, progression to cirrhosis, and hepatocellular carcinoma is inflammation. Liver transplant and liver regeneration following liver resection are also dramatically impaired by elevation of inflammation. We have identified a potent anti-inflammatory protein, HLA-G, that is critical for regulating post-surgical inflammation in the liver. We will determine if HLA-G can reverse and/or block liver fibrosis and modify HLA-G for improved clinical potential.

Students will enrol through the Faculty of Medicine.

Molecular Biology, animal handling and surgery, immunology.

Dr Luke Kelly

l.kelly3@uq.edu.au

Optimising the spring in your step to enhance running performance

This project is part of an Australian Research Council Linkage Grant, in collaboration with the Australian Institute of Sport and Asics. This project will incorporate the use of novel musculoskeletal imaging, biomechanical and neurophysiological research tools to explore ways to augment / enhance the function of the human foot during running, with specific emphasis on the plantar fascia. This research will have direct implications for management of running injury and athletic performance.

Students will enrol through the School of Human Movement & Nutrition Sciences.

Exceptional candidates with a background in Exercise SciencePhysiotherapy, PodiatryBio/mechanical Engineering or related disciplines are encouraged to apply.

Dr Luke Kelly

l.kelly3@uq.edu.au

Sensorimotor control of foot function: Adapting the mechanical function of the foot to optimise balance and gait performance

This research will examine how the brain and spinal cord integrate sensory feedback to tune foot muscle activation in response to loading and balance challenges. This research will incorporate advanced neurophysiological and biomechanical research tools to gain a comprehensive understanding of the role of the foot in balance and locomotion. Findings from this research will be used to directly inform strategies for enhancing foot function and ultimately reducing injury and pain in this important part of the body.

Students will enrol through the School of Human Movement & Nutrition Sciences.

Exceptional candidates with a background in Exercise Sciences (Exercise Physiology, Sport & Exercise Science), Clinical Sciences (Physiotherapy, Podiatry) or related disciplines are encouraged to apply.

Professor David Craik

d.craik@imb.uq.edu.au

Taking Australia from the Farm to the Pharm

The overall aim of this project is to develop peptide-based drugs that are able to cross cell membranes and inhibit specific intracellular cancer targets, leading to more effective, safer and cost effective drugs. 
Our critical discovery that certain classes of cyclic peptides can cross
cell membranes and bind to specific targets inside cells has opened the possibility to inhibit these intracellular cancer targets with highly specific peptide-based drugs.
We will use stable, cyclic, disulfide-rich peptides as frameworks to design novel drugs that can penetrate into cells and block protein:protein interactions.
The major outcome of this project will be new drug leads to treat melanoma and leukaemia with higher specificity, lower toxicity and a lower likelihood to develop resistance than current therapies.

Students will enrol through the Institute for Molecular Bioscience (IMB).

Molecular biology; Plant tissue culture; Chemistry
 
*This project is available until October 2018 unless a suitable candidate is found prior.

Dr Lin Luo

l.luo@imb.uq.edu.au

Controlling inflammation in chronic disease

Macrophages are regarded as ‘guardian immune cells’ functioning at the front line of innate immunity. By secreting an array of cytokines, macrophages also control inflammation throughout the body. However, in a wide variety of common diseases, including cancer, diabetes, Alzheimer’s and many others, inflammation is ‘out of control’. New ways to curtail macrophage function and inflammatory cytokines are urgently needed. As part of University of Queensland (UQ)/ Institute for Molecular Bioscience’s Centre for Inflammatory and Disease Research, we have identified a selective regulator of inflammatory responses, a protein called SCIMP. 

In this project, the roles of SCIMP and its effectors, in Toll-like receptor-driven inflammation will be investigated. This research will entail multiple approaches including proteomics, structural biology, protein biochemistry and cell imaging, and applicants ideally will have completed courses or training in immunology, cell biology and/or biochemistry. 

Students will enrol through the Institute for Molecular Bioscience (IMB).

Applicants ideally will have completed courses or training in immunology, cell biology and/or biochemistry.

Dr Christina Schoeder

c.schroeder@imb.uq.edu.au

The potential of membranes – peptide engineering to modulate ion channels

Naturally derived disulfide-rich peptides interact with a range of human ion channels and receptors as agonists and antagonists and have been shown to be important and useful drug leads and research tools. This program focuses on the discovery of new molecules targeting these channels as well as understanding the mechanistic details behind the peptide-receptor interactions in order to engineer more potent and selective peptides to modulate the activity of therapeutically relevant ion channels and receptors. 

Students will enrol through the Institute for Molecular Bioscience (IMB).

  • organic/medicinal chemistry
  • peptide chemistry
  • chemical biology
  • pharmacology

*This project is available until October 2019 unless a suitable candidate is found prior.

Dr Nathan Palpant

n.palpant@uq.edu.au

Stem cells and cardiovascular development

This project utilizes genomics data coupled with CRISPR gene editing and human pluripotent stem cells to identify novel mechanisms that underlie differentiation into the cardiovascular lineage.

Students will enrol through the Institute for Molecular Bioscience (IMB).

  • Cell biology
  • Cardiovascular development
  • Genetics

Dr Nathan Palpant

n.palpant@uq.edu.au

Identifying genetic determinants of cardiovascular development and disease

This project will utilize and develop computational genomics tools for analysis of single cell RNA-sequencing data to identify novel genetic mechanisms underlying cardiac development and disease.

Students will enrol through the Institute for Molecular Bioscience (IMB).

  • Computational and statistical genetics 
  • Bioinformatics

Professor Jenny Stow

j.stow@imb.uq.edu.au

Macrophage Polarisation and Control of Pulmonary Inflammation

Uncontrolled inflammation contributes to many chronic diseases, including cystic fibrosis. This project aims to find macrophage molecules and drug targets to switch off inflammation in disease, using models of disease and human cells, working with clinicians.

Students will enrol through the Institute for Molecular Bioscience (IMB).

Strong in at least one of the following:

  • Cell biology
  • Biochemistry
  • Immunology
  • Physiology
  • Biotechnology

Professor Jenny Stow

j.stow@imb.uq.edu.au

Big data image analysis and advanced cell imaging

Two related projects:

  1. Developing machine learning algorithms for analysis of big image data sets.
  2. Advanced laser imaging of live cells expressing fluorescnt proteins to study cell behaviour, mostly in immune cells.

Students will enrol through the Institute for Molecular Bioscience (IMB).

  1. Mathematics/bioinformatics/computing
  2. Cell biology/ physiology/immunology/ microscopy