Understanding how actin network remodelling drives neural tube formation in the developing embryo

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 brain and the spinal cord arise from a common precursor, the neural tube, formed very early in embryonic development. Changes in cellular architecture must be tightly coordinated in space and time to generate the forces that sculpt and shape the neural tube. Failure of the neural tube to form correctly results in some of the most common and severe birth defects.

The morphological changes that shape the neural tube are driven by remodelling of the actin cytoskeleton but the dynamics of this process are poorly understood due to a lack of live imaging. This project will use quantitative live imaging approaches to study how the cytoskeleton is remodelled in real time during neural tube morphogenesis and how patient-associated gene mutations affect this process. Neural tube development will be studied using transgenic avian embryos with opportunities to complement the work using zebrafish and human iPS cell models. 

This is an opportunity to join the newly established Dynamics of Morphogenesis lab at the Institute for Molecular Bioscience (IMB). You will have access to a fantastic range of infrastructure including one of the largest and most comprehensively equipped imaging facilities in Australia. The lab values an open, supportive and collaborative environment in which to pursue your scientific excellence. To take full advantage of this opportunity you will need to be passionate about science, driven to succeed and ready to use your initiative.

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 Melanie White

Institute for Molecular Bioscience

Email: melanie.white@imb.uq.edu.au

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 embryology or imaging would be of benefit to someone working on this project.

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

A background or knowledge of mechanobiology or biophysics 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