Modulating protein-protein interactions in disease

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.

Most diseases are mediated by protein-protein interactions, often fleeting contacts between large protein surfaces too shallow to sequester conventional small molecule drugs. This project will design and develop classes of new compounds at and above size limits of conventional drugs to modulate more difficult protein-activated receptors that are largely targets without drugs. To do this, the candidate will first truncate one of the binding partners to a smaller peptide and optimise its structure, composition, protein affinity, and functional potency in order to modulate the protein-protein interaction that leads to disease. This will require knowledge and skills in peptide chemistry, solid phase synthesis, HPLC purification, spectroscopy (NMR, MS, CD), and an ability and motivation to modify peptides into small bioavailable molecules using organic synthesis techniques. Some knowledge of cell biology and enzyme assays would be an advantage, as would knowledge of NMR spectroscopy. The long term goal is to design new compounds and profile them for effects on genes/proteins/cells/rodent models of immunometabolism, inflammatory diseases and cancer. Outcomes will include new knowledge of protein-protein interactions in disease; greater understanding of drug targets, disease mechanisms and effectiveness of new drug action; patentable methods and bioactive compounds; and new experimental drug leads to new medicines for preclinical development towards the clinic.

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 David Fairlie

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 peptide synthesis, HPLC, MS and NMR spectroscopy, chemical and experimental methods, medicinal chemistry and cell biology would be of benefit to someone working on this project.

The applicant will demonstrate academic achievement in the field(s) of peptide, organic and medicinal chemistry and the potential for scholastic success.

A background or knowledge of synthetic organic and peptide chemistry is highly desirable.

Closing date

You must apply before the closing date of 25 April, 2022.

How to apply

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

View application process