New approaches to measuring single-molecule protein dynamics

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.

We recently discovered a new class of highly fluorescent zwitterionic fluorophores, derivatives of which display extreme environmentally sensitivity. These exciting molecules have physical properties that makes them interesting candidates for utility in a range of technologies. Of interest to us is the possibility that these molecules could be used to correlate conformational changes at G protein-coupled receptors (GPCR) which are an important class of drug targets. GPCRs are often activated by several different agonists, both endogenous and as medicines. The significance of this study is that differences in GPCR conformation are thought to be related to the ability of particular agonists to elicit cellular responses. This is because the cellular response is not simply a product of GPCR occupancy, as would be expected in an “on” – “off” switch or indeed to how tightly the agonist is bound.

The project will involve the development of methods to incorporate novel-solvatochromic fluorophores into proteins. This will be subsequently used with GPCRs or their signal transducers; G-Proteins. Interaction of these fluorescent, environmentally sensitive, GPCR or G-protein conjugates will then be investigated using single molecule dynamics with an emphasis on the utility of (Fluorescence Lifetime Imaging Microscopy – Fluorescence Resonance Energy Transfer) FLIM-FRET in addition to a suite of other techniques.

A suitable candidate will have broad interests spanning synthetic chemistry, biology and photo-physics. The candidate will receive all the required training to conduct the project but must have a strong desire to assume ownership of the project and work independently.

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)


Dr Sebastian Furness

Faculty of Medicine


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 G protein-coupled receptor signalling and un-natural amino-acid technology would be of benefit to someone working on this project.

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

Latest commencement date

If you are the successful candidate, you must commence by Research Quarter 3, 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