*** Please find full details of the project at: https://www.newcastle.edu.au/study/research/phd-scholarships/phd-scholarships/banking-on-spermatogonial-stem-cells-to-safeguard-the-future-of-australias-native-fauna ***
Spermatogonial stem cells are the drivers of male fertility and are an untapped resource for conservation of vulnerable wildlife species. In order to decelerate losses in genetic diversity in wildlife populations, mature gametes (i.e. spermatozoa) are commonly ‘biobanked’, to facilitate future assisted reproduction approaches. Unfortunately, semen biobanking cannot be reliably performed in species whose spermatozoa do not respond well to cryopreservation, such as the koala. In this project funded by the Australian Research Council, we will conduct the first in-depth characterisation of koala spermatogonial stem cells and will attempt to maintain the cell population in in vitro culture as a first step towards establishing a biobanking pipeline.
The project is situated within the Priority Research Centre for Reproductive Biology at the University of Newcastle (https://www.newcastle.edu.au/research/centre/crs); a strategic initiative comprising >100 research personnel and students focused on different aspects of gamete biology and their relevance to human infertility, domestic animal reproduction, novel contraceptive development, and the conservation of Australian fauna.
The strength of our research environment has been recognised through the Australian Government Excellence in Research Assessment initiative (ERA 2018), in which the UON was placed equal 7th for research that is 'well above world standard'.
In our particular fields of Paediatrics & Reproductive Medicine and Biochemistry & Cell Biology, we were one of only 2 Universities to receive the highest ERA rating of 5. This project is laboratory-based and is expected to be undertaken onsite in Newcastle, full-time. The candidate must also be willing to travel to Queensland to work with our collaborators for up to 4 weeks per annum.