Identifying pharmacological targets for osteoporosis intervention using whole-genome and exome sequencing of bone related phenotypes

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.

Supervisor – Dr John Kempj.kemp2@uq.edu.au

Osteoporosis (OP) is an often asymptomatic multi-factorial condition that is characterized by a progressive loss of bone mass resulting in increased fracture (FX) risk and reduced lifespan(1). It represents a significant public health burden that affects an estimated 2.2 million Australians and results in 20,000 hip fractures annually, with direct and indirect disease-related costs estimated at $7.4 billion per year(2). Due to the insidious nature of this disease, individuals who are most at risk of OP are often only identified once they present with low trauma FX. The situation is further exacerbated as most pharmacological treatments function as anti-resorptives that halt further bone loss, but fail to fully restore bone quality. Only one osteoanabolic drug is presently approved by the United States Food and Drug Administration, however this compound is far from ideal as it requires daily administration via injection to ensure adequate bone formation(3). Consequently, there is considerable scope for identifying novel osteoanabolic pathways that could in principle be targeted by new and existing pharmacotherapies to build bone mass before clinical sequelae develop.

The goal of this PhD is to combine statistical and molecular genetics approaches to identify and assess the therapeutic potential of OP drug targets.

Preferred educational background

Applications will be judged on a competitive basis taking into account the applicant's previous academic record, publication record, honours and awards, and employment history.

A working knowledge of AI & machine learning, bioinformatics, computer science & IT, endocrinology, genetics, information science, molecular biology and public health & epidemiology would be of benefit to someone working on this project.

A background or knowledge of software, engineering and statistics is highly desirable.

*The successful candidate must commence by Research Quarter 4, 2022. You should apply at least 3 months prior to the research quarter commencement date. International applicants may need to apply much earlier for visa reasons.

Apply now