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Establishing a human cell model of the glial dysfunction in multiple sclerosis

   Menzies Institute for Medical Research

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  Dr Kaylene Young  No more applications being accepted  Competition Funded PhD Project (Students Worldwide)

About the Project

About the research project -

Multiple Sclerosis (MS) is a complex disease associated with immune cell infiltration of the central nervous system (CNS), myelin loss, and neurodegeneration. The exact cause of MS is not known, but knowledge of the key lifestyle, environmental and genetic risk factors has led to the development of 2 competing hypotheses – (i) the ‘inside-out’ hypothesis where MS starts in the CNS and leads to the activation of the peripheral immune system, and (ii) the ‘outside-in’ hypothesis where the immune system is activated peripherally and attacks the CNS. To investigate the ‘inside out’ hypothesis we will use stem cell lines produced by reprogramming blood cells from people with MS to generate key brain cell types – namely, oligodendrocytes, astrocytes, microglia, and neurons—and perform RNA sequencing and cell biology assays (e.g. flow cytometry, biochemistry, immunocytochemistry, enzyme-linked immunosorbent assays (ELISAs), confocal microscopy and image analysis) to understand the earliest contribution of brain cells to propagating MS pathology. We anticipate that this project will result in the first ever in vitro model of MS that will enable us to learn the cellular pathways that are responsible for MS initiation and progression, and provide a novel platform for the development of brain repair therapies. The student will work within the MS Research Flagship and be supported by an interdisciplinary team consisting of world-leading experts in glial and stem cell biology, genomics, and MS pathophysiology. We expect that the outcomes from this project will result in the identification of pathways that can be targeted for therapeutic intervention that will feed into our fundamental research to clinical trial pipeline.

**Multiple students can undertake different aspects of this project, and the co-supervisory team can be finalised following a discussion with A/Prof Young.


Applicants will be considered for a Research Training Program (RTP) scholarship or Tasmania Graduate Research Scholarship (TGRS) which, if successful, provides:

  • a living allowance stipend of $28,597 per annum (2021 rate, indexed annually) for 3.5 years
  • a relocation allowance of up to $2,000
  • a tuition fees offset covering the cost of tuition fees for up to four years (domestic applicants only)

If successful, international applicants will receive a University of Tasmania Fees Offset for up to four years.

As part of the application process you may indicate if you do not wish to be considered for scholarship funding.


The project is open to domestic (Australian and New Zealand) and international applicants.

Applicants should review the Higher Degree by Research minimum entry requirements.

Selection Criteria

The project is competitively assessed and awarded.  Selection is based on academic merit and suitability to the project as determined by the College.

Additional desirable selection criteria specific to this project:

  • A background in neuroscience would be advantageous
  • Experience working in a laboratory

Application process

After checking and ensuring that you meet the eligibility and selection criteria contact the project supervisor.

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