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Defining diets to treat inborn errors of metabolism

Project Description

Fully funded PhD scholarships are available for both Australian and international students through the School of Biological Sciences and Monash University. These scholarships are very generous and cover living expenses and waive tuition fees. Please review the selection criteria below and complete the form if you would like a chance in securing a scholarship.

Inborn errors of metabolism (IEMs) are a large heterogeneous group of genetic diseases caused by mutations in key metabolic genes. Individually IEMs are considered rare diseases, but as a group, they impact more than a million people. Tragically, the affected individuals are most often young children and the mortality rate amongst them is high. This is because for many IEMs there is no effective treatment available. Treatments that work best involve dietary modifications to lower the offending metabolites (e.g. PKU sufferers avoid Phenylalanine), however the extent to which diet can play a role across all IEMs has not be systematically assessed.

This project aims to use the Drosophila melanogaster (fruit fly) as an animal model system in which to model IEMs and determine how diet alterations can impact disease phenotypes. Drosophila metabolism genes are highly conserved with humans meaning that our findings are relevant to human biology and the treatment of disease. Because they are also cheap to maintain and fast to develop, we are able to screen many genes to find dietary solutions to IEMs that will impact clinical outcomes.

This PhD project will involve sophisticated Drosophila genetic manipulations, development and characterisation of disease models of IEM, extensive medium throughput phenotyping and analyses, advanced imaging techniques, and nutritional chemistry. The candidate will work across two Drosophila laboratories at Monash: Dr Travis Johnson (molecular and developmental genetics) and Dr Matt Piper (nutrition and genetics), have access to world-leading facilities and equipment, be surrounded by a supportive and dynamic intellectual environment, and collaborate/interact with world-leading clinical and functional geneticists.

The successful candidate is someone who:
• Is a bright junior scientist who is highly motivated and hard-working, and will work well in teams, as well as independently.
• Holds a first class honours’ or master’s degree (final mark >85%) in biology, molecular biology, genetics, microbiology, bioinformatics or a related field.
• Has excellent communication skills and proficiency in English are mandatory.
• Is organised, enthusiastic, has a positive attitude towards learning and contributing in a research environment.

If you are interested in applying to join the team as a PhD student, please complete the form found at the link below:

More about doing a PhD at Monash University:

The quality of our research and exceptional facilities are just two of the many reasons we’re consistently ranked in the top 100 universities in the world. The Monash Doctoral Program is a 3-year research-intensive course that involves some coursework directed for career development.

Funding Notes

We have a fully-funded scholarship available for domestic (Australian) and international students.
The 3.5 year award includes all course fees, a $26,000 AUD per year tax-free stipend, an allowance for conference attendance (Health insurance is also covered for international students).

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