Using advanced imaging technologies to study cellular recognition by bacterial toxins

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.

Bacteria are engaged in constant competition with other organisms for nutrients and space to ensure their survival.  To aid them in this, they have evolved over millions of years an increasingly diverse range of virulence factors, many of which are toxins that either inhibit the growth of - or kill - competing cells and organisms.  Bacterial pore-forming toxins are a family of virulence factors that destroy cells by inserting large, non-selective pores into the outer cell membrane, triggering cell lysis and death.  Using state-of-the-art imaging technologies, including cryo-electron microscopy, imaging mass spectrometry and cryo-electron tomography, this project will discover the molecular mechanisms that underpin the recognition of foreign cells by a newly discovered family of bacterial pore-forming toxins.  Understanding the mechanisms by which toxins identify and recognise cellular targets is important for understanding not only how they function, but how their functionality can be manipulated.  For example, it is possible to develop new antibacterial therapies that neutralise the function of bacterial toxins, or alternatively new insecticides and cancer therapies might be developed by re-engineering the specificity of these toxins to target disease cells or pest organisms.

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 Michael Landsberg

School of Chemistry and Molecular Biosciences


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 cellular and/or biomolecular structure and function would be of benefit to someone working on this project.

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

A background or knowledge of structural biology is highly desirable.

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