Rewiring transcription in solid tumours by targeting transposable elements

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.

Transposable elements are sequences of DNA derived from viruses and genetic parasites. At one stage, transposable elements were able to propagate throughout our genome. They now account for roughly half of our genetic material. Over evolutionary time, the vast majority of transposable elements have become immobile and no longer replicate. However, many remnant transposable element sequences have been co-opted into regulatory functions to fine-tune cellular gene expression. Because of their repetitive nature, co-option of transposable elements can serve as a means for coordinating expression from a network of genes involved in a given biological process.

This project aims to identify transposable elements that drive transcriptional programs in preclinical models of solid tumours. We will identify and characterise the protein complexes that effect transposable element regulatory function. Further, we will modulate transposable element expression and investigate the effect on tumour progression and therapeutic outcomes.

The PhD candidate will be supervised by Dr Natasha Jansz (Mater Research) and Professor Geoff Faulkner (Mater Research/QBI)

The candidate will be a part of a diverse team with a shared interest in transposable element biology. The student leading this project will have the opportunity to work with CRISPR-Cas9 systems, Oxford Nanopore sequencing technologies, and human cell culture models. There will be opportunities to gain a working knowledge in Unix command-line and basic bioinformatics. The candidate will be supported in career development, building a publication record, and applying for awards.

We expect the candidate will work independently and collaboratively with the aim to discover novel transcriptional pathways for therapeutic targeting in preclinical tumour models.

We welcome and encourage applicants from diverse backgrounds, with a commitment to mentoring under-represented groups within the sciences. Academic record and employment history will be assessed relative to opportunities. 

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 Natasha Jansz

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 genetics, genomics, bioinformatics and/or molecular biology 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 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