Studies of complex biomolecular systems using advanced biochemical and biophysical techniques

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.

The project, led by Associate Professors Mehdi Mobli and Jeffrey Harmer, aims to develop new tools to reveal the structure and dynamics of complex protein systems within their native environment by combining innovative biochemistry, new magnetic resonance spectroscopy and high performance computing. These tools will be applied to a selection of proteins involved in drug development (antibiotics, analgesics) and disease (Streptococcus pneumoniae, chronic pain).

Key Objectives

  1. Development of new biochemistry technologies for site-specific tagging of proteins with paramagnetic labels, based on incorporation of non-canonical amino acids (ncAA).
  2. Electron Paramagnetic Resonance (EPR) and paramagnetic NMR methods will be applied to measure long-range distances (15-100Å) for structure determination.
  3. New computational tools will be developed to interpret distance distribution data from EPR and NMR spectroscopy by meaningful structural models.
  4. Methods developed in objectives 1-3 will be used to study protein systems that are targets of current pharmaceutical research (for e.g. drug development and disease).

The candidate will be responsible for protein production (in collaboration with our ANU partner), spin labelling of proteins, development of EPR and/or NMR methodologies (e.g., DEER) and data acquisition. These data will be incorporated into molecular modelling software to understand the protein’s structure, dynamics, and function.

The candidate should demonstrate skills in biochemistry, chemistry or molecular biology sufficient to produce and spin-label a protein. Demonstrated skills in biophysics and related fields would be an advantage (e.g., physical chemistry, physics, mathematics). An ability to work in a collaborative multi-disciplinary research team will be required by the successful applicant.

The project is funded by the Australian Research Council and involves collaboration between the University of Queensland and the Australian National University (ANU).

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)


Associate Professor Mehdi Mobli

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 protein biochemistry would be of benefit to someone working on this project.

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

A background or knowledge of biophysics, physics or mathematics is highly desirable.

Latest commencement date

If you are the successful candidate, you must commence by Research Quarter 1, 2023. 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