Epigenetic and molecular aspects of the mitochondrial genome

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.

The coordinated regulation of homeostatic processes at multiple scales, including at the molecular, cellular, and inter-tissue levels, is necessary to maintain organismal health. These systems require an extraordinary amount of energy to function, most of which is provided by mitochondria. While inherited mitochondrial genome (mtDNA) mutations cause an array of devastating genetic diseases that often manifest during childhood, mtDNA genetic defects also accumulate in multiple tissues during ageing, are enriched in common late-onset diseases, such as cancer and neurodegeneration, and are associated with age-related decline. Although both inherited and acquired mtDNA mutations are irreparable, we have discovered novel cellular protective mechanisms that reduce vulnerability towards mtDNA defects. Our results have two major implications: i) they uncover the existence of new homeostatic pathways that cells use to combat mtDNA mutations, and ii) they demonstrate that modulation of this pathway can trigger protective activities that preserve organ function during disease. This research project will dissect these cellular mechanisms to provide a new molecular framework for understanding how cells counteract mtDNA genetic defects that cause an array of inherited and acquired human diseases.

Depending on the interests of the PhD candidate, this project will likely focus on epigenetic mechanisms that may be used by cells to signal mtDNA damage and orchestrate protective responses. The project will use the genetic model organism C. elegans to dissect these processes with the possibility of translating their findings into cellular models of human disease.

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)


Associate Professor Steven Zuryn

Queensland Brain Institute

Email: s.zuryn@uq.edu.au

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 cellular and molecular biology would be of benefit to someone working on this project.

The applicant will demonstrate academic achievement in the field(s) of molecular biology and the potential for scholastic success.

A background or knowledge of mitochondria is highly desirable.

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