Identifying a molecular signalling network governing synapse formation

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.

Queensland Brain Institute -  Neural Migration Laboratory

The Neural Migration Laboratory is headed by Professor Helen Cooper. Professor Cooper’s research focuses on the molecular signaling systems (guidance receptors and their ligands) governing neural stem cell activity, neuronal differentiation and axon pathfinding in the embryonic brain. A major research theme, and the focus of this PhD project, is understanding the molecular mechanisms underpinning synapse formation and synaptic activity. The goal of the Cooper laboratory is to identify the molecular mechanisms contributing to cortical malformations and neuropsychiatric disorders such as autism and schizophrenia

PhD Project

Abnormal synapse formation leads to diminished synaptic transmission and impaired cognitive function. The goal of this project is to identify the molecular pathways that govern synaptic connectivity. This research will not only provide key insights into the fundamental principles guiding the establishment of complex neural circuits, but will also shed light on the aberrant processes contributing to autism and schizophrenia. To address these questions the successful candidate will utilize the following experimental tools: developmental mouse models, in vitro neuronal culture systems, state-of-the-art molecular and imaging approaches, including super-resolution microscopy. 

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 Helen Cooper

Queensland Brain Institute


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 molecular, cellular and/or developmental biology or neuroscience 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 4, 2022. 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