Manipulating the Gut Lung Axis to treat experimental Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease

   Faculty of Science

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  Prof Phillip Hansbro, Dr Nicole Hansbro  No more applications being accepted  Funded PhD Project (Students Worldwide)

About the Project

Manipulating the Gut Lung Axis to treat experimental Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease

This project will investigate maximally effective microbiome and dietary interventions in experimental and human COPD to treat clinical trial human patients. Experiments will involve Faecal Microbial Transfer (FMT), and specific bacterial taxa/probiotic and dietary manipulation. Dietary interventions will be designed at the molecular level to outgrow specific microbial populations and the production of specific metabolite profiles. This will enable rapid profiling of the most effective interventions not possible in human studies.

Experiments will utilize our unique experimental mouse models to elucidate changes in the Gut Lung Axis (GLA), immunity and experimental or human Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD) in response to interventions. Samples will be analysed for their effects on airway inflammation and lung function. Successful experiments will be fully characterised and the GLA deeply characterised on a selection of the most informative.

We have established (FMT) models that show substantial prophylactic and therapeutic protection against all features of experimental COPD. This project will profile protective changes in metabolites and immunity and perform correlation analysis and then define their roles in isolation in experimental COPD and in germ-free (GF) mice

We will also investigate the effects of altering the dietary intake at the molecular level by treating with a number of common probiotics and prebiotics, as well as manipulating the diet content for example, fibre, starch, carbohydrates, fats and sugars.

This project will define the microbiome-based interventions that are most effective in the prevention and treatment of experimental COPD and in influenza and COVID-19 exacerbations and infections, and in human cells.


Applicants must be a domestic student - either Australian permanent residents or New Zealand citizens. To be eligible for this applicantion, applicants must have completed a UTS recognised degree in

• MSc Research or MSc Coursework with a research thesis of at least 6 months,

• or Bachelor Honours degree with 1st Class, or 2nd Class Division 1, or division 1 honours, or an equivalent or higher qualification,

• or submitted other evidence of general and professional qualifications that demonstrates potential to pursue graduate research studies.

Selection process

Selection criteria includes research potential, research experience, quality of the research proposal, alignment with the UTS Research Strategy and the strategic goals of the field of specialisation, and the Faculty's ability to offer appropriate supervision in the applicant's chosen field. Please contact us with the project you intend to apply for.

Applicants must:

  • be highly motivated and capable of independent work
  • have a strong team focus
  • possess excellent communication skills and the ability to work with a diverse range of people and within established collaborative teams
  • have knowledge of a research/laboratory environment and requirements
  • be computer literate in standard research software
  • be able to maintain thorough laboratory records
  • have experience with standard lab techniques such as ELISA, RNA extraction, reverse transcription, qPCR, western blotting, cell culture, aseptic technique, histological analysis, Immunohistochemistry, Immunofluorescence, flow cytometry, and primer design.
  • Be able to conduct in vivo mouse models


Applicants should send their CV and list of publications to contact person’s email address by the closing date. The application process is currently open and will continue to be open until all positions have been filled. We highly encourage interested candidates to apply as soon as possible. Shortlisted candidates will be advised with further details.

For further Information on application essentials please visit UTS Graduate Research applications.

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Biological Sciences (4) Engineering (12) Medicine (26)

Funding Notes

Stipend Value
$32,500 per year and additional funds ($7.5k) during the course of the PhD for PhD-related expenses.
3.5 years