2016 USC Microbiology PhD Scholarships

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2016 USC Microbiology PhD Scholarships


Applications are invited for this opportunity to be submitted to the Office of Research. This opportunity will remain open until a suitable candidate is selected.

Infectious diseases caused by the obligate intracellular pathogen are a major cause of disease in humans, domesticated and wild animals. PhD scholarships are available at the University of the Sunshine Coast to perform studies that improve our understanding of the biology, epidemiology and control of these infections.

Chlamydia are obligate intracellular bacteria that are the most common cause of sexually transmitted diseases in humans as well as a leading cause of preventable blindness. Infections in animals are equally problematic and are associated with economic loss to livestock and poultry producers as well as native species such as Australia’s iconic koalas.

Across each of the hosts infected by these species and the variety of chlamydial species involved, we still know remarkably little about the basic biology of these organisms, the host-pathogen interactions involved and how best to control and prevent these infections.

Two Microbiology PhD scholarships, hosted in the laboratories of national and international leaders in Chlamydia research, Assoc Prof Adam Polkinghorne and Prof Peter Timms at the University of the Sunshine Coast, are available in 2016. Successful candidates will join a large team of academics, research fellows and PhD students working on a variety of projects in the general Chlamydia research field.

A range of PhD topics are available for study, including the potential for negotiated topics between the successful candidate and their supervisory team. Examples of these topics include:

  1. Understanding the function of the Chlamydia pecorum plasmid in disease pathogenesis
  2. Characterisation of the female koala immune response to chlamydial infection of the reproductive tract
  3. Host-pathogen interactions of Chlamydia related epitheliocystis agents in cultured fish
  4. Investigations into the role of Chlamydia-related bacteria in adverse pregnancy outcomes in women
  5. Investigations into the diagnosis and molecular epidemiology of Chlamydia psittaci in Australian birds, poultry and humans
  6. Evaluation of Chlamydia pecorum spill-over in Australian livestock and koalas

While the team already has most of the research methodologies and techniques in place, and therefore the new students will be able to learn these techniques during their project from an existing team of PhD students and research fellows, preference for places will be given to applicants who can demonstrate that they already have some experience with a range of relevant laboratory skills, such as, (a) in vitro cell culture, (b) PCR – standard, quantitative, real time, (c) DNA sequencing and analysis, (d) bioinformatic analysis of large datasets, such as whole genomes or microbiomes, (e) immunological assays (ELISA, cytokine assays).

For further information on these scholarships or to discuss potential PhD project possibilities, please do not hesitate to contact Associate Professor Adam Polkinghorne (apolking@usc.edu.au)

To be eligible for this award, applicants must: 1. hold a Bachelor degree with first class honours or have an equivalent level of attainment  2. maintain satisfactory progress as a full-time PhD candidate at the University of the Sunshine Coast 3. not hold an equivalent HDR qualification to that being applied for
Selection criteria:
Applications will be evaluated on the following:
  • Undergraduate achievement; and
  • Research alignment; and
  • Publications;
  • Most recent or relevant degree
Please see additional criteria for preferred candidate in the project summary.
Eligible programs:
Number available:
Stipend commensurate with the Australian Postgraduate Award rate, Tuition Fees and Overseas Health Cover for the standard duration of the program.
How to apply for a Postgraduate Research Scholarship
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