The contribution of superantigens to the pathogenesis of Streptococcus pyogenes M1UK

Project opportunity

This Earmarked Scholarship project is aligned with a recently awarded Category 1 research grant. It offers you the opportunity to work with leading researchers and contribute to large projects of national significance.

A new variant of Streptococcus pyogenes serotype M1 (designated ‘M1UK’) has been reported in the United Kingdom, linked with seasonal scarlet fever surges, marked increase in invasive infections, and exhibiting enhanced expression of the superantigen SpeA. The rapid emergence of the new M1UK variant as the dominant emm1 sub-clone in the UK and Netherlands, and subsequent detection in North America, demands a thorough epidemiological assessment of the global public health threat that this new S. pyogenes variant poses.

This PhD project is based on our findings that Australian M1UK strains have acquired an extended toxin repertoire, including streptococcal superantigens. The study will explore the role of these toxins in the pathogenesis of Australian M1UK strains and will test whether a superantigen-targeted vaccine candidate may stimulate protective responses in mouse S. pyogenes challenge models. This project involves the use of different microbiological and molecular biology techniques and combines in vitro and in vivo models of S. pyogenes infection. Students with an interest in bacterial pathogenesis and/or vaccine development are encouraged to apply.

Scholarship value

As a scholarship recipient, you'll receive: 

  • living stipend of $32,192 per annum tax free (2023 rate), indexed annually
  • tuition fees covered
  • single Overseas Student Health Cover (OSHC)


Professor Mark Walker

Institute for Molecular Bioscience


Preferred educational background

Your application will be assessed on a competitive basis.

We take into account your

  • previous academic record
  • publication record
  • honours and awards
  • employment history.

A working knowledge of microbiology would be of benefit to someone working on this project.

Latest commencement date

If you are the successful candidate, you must commence by Research Quarter 1, 2024. You should apply at least 3 months prior to the research quarter commencement date.

If you are an international applicant, you may need to apply much earlier for visa requirements.

How to apply

You apply for this project as part of your PhD program application.

View application process