Chlamydia Vaccine Development PhD Scholarship

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Chlamydia Vaccine Development PhD Scholarship


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.

Chlamydial infections are an important cause of disease in animals (such as koalas) and humans. This project will involve the evaluation of the immune response in naturally infected and immunized individuals with the aim of developing vaccines against koalas and also potentially humans.

Chlamydial infections are common in a range of animals (notably koalas) as well as humans. In koalas, chlamydial infections lead to blindness and reproductive tract disease and are a major threat to the long term conservation of this iconic native species.

In humans, despite education and antibiotics, chlamydial infection rates are not decreasing and in women in particular, STI infections with Chlamydia trachomatis can lead to infertility and pelvic inflammatory disease. A vaccine is considered the best solution for both animals and humans.

While there is considerable research using the mouse model of chlamydial infection, research should directly assess the protective (and non-protective) immune responses in the target species; ie. koalas and humans.

An important part of vaccine development is the understanding of the immune response that leads to protection and the development of biomarkers of protection.

This PhD project will aim to understand the protective immune responses against Chlamydia to enable the development of novel chlamydial vaccines in animals (koalas) and potentially also humans, as follows:

  1. Analyse and characterise the immune responses (protective and non-protective) in naturally infected individuals (koalas and/or humans). This will involve a range of immunological approaches including antibody and cytokine profiling.
  2. In koalas, test the immunogenicity and protective effect of novel vaccines, novel antigens and novel adjuvants.
  3. In humans, follow cohorts of men and women infected with Chlamydia and subsequently after they receive antibiotic treatment.

To complete this project, the USC Chlamydia Research program is looking for a highly motivated, hard-working PhD student to join an established team of academics, postdoctoral fellows and other PhD students working on research projects on Chlamydia.

Preference will be given to applicants who can demonstrate that they already have some experience with a range of relevant laboratory skills, such as, (a) PCR – standard, quantitative, real time, (b) immunological assays (ELISA, Western blotting, cytokine assays), (c) vaccine development, and/or (d) bacterial genomics and/or transcriptomics analyses.

Contact : Professor Peter Timms (

To be eligible for this scholarship, applicants must:  
  • hold a Bachelor degree with First Class honours, or have an equivalent level of attainment via previous study, work experience, research publications, and other research experience;
  • not hold an equivalent HDR qualification to that being applied for
  • Recipients must maintain satisfactory progress as a full-time PhD candidate at the University of the Sunshine Coast
Selection criteria:
  • Undergraduate achievement; and
  • Research alignment; and
  • Publications;
  • Most recent or relevant degree
Please see additional criteria for the preferred candidate in the project summary.
Eligible programs:
Number available:
Stipend commensurate with the Australian Postgraduate Award, Tuition Fees and Overseas Health Cover for the standard duration of the program.
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