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Molecular insights into a novel mammalian oxygen-sensing pathway (Ph.D in Biochemistry/Chemical Biology)

Project Description

Outstanding candidates with their own funding and a background in biochemistry, molecular biology, organic chemistry or similar are invited to apply for a Ph.D scholarship in the School of Chemistry, University of Sydney, to study the molecular basis of a novel oxygen-sensing system recently identified in human cells ( under the supervision of Dr Mark White (

During their Ph.D, candidates will learn and implement a number of important techniques spanning biology and chemistry to characterise this exciting oxygen-sensing system at a molecular level, ultimately aiming to determine its mechanism and facilitate the discovery of therapeutic compounds to influence its activity for medicinal and scientific benefit.

Additional support and expertise will be provided by Professor Richard Payne in the School of Chemistry ( and Professor Joel Mackay in the School of Life and Environmental Sciences ( Access to numerous research institutes and facilities across the University, such as the mass spectrometry hub in the Charles Perkins Centre, is available and there is scope to collaborate and exchange with researchers at the University of Oxford.

Prospective candidates should contact Dr Mark White () for further information and to find out how to apply. Please include a CV and short description explaining your interest in the project.

Background -

Oxygen (O2) is a vital biological resource most prominently known for its role as the final electron acceptor in aerobic respiration and, as such, adequate molecular mechanisms are needed to maintain its homeostasis. One eloquent and efficient way this is achieved is through cellular O2 sensors; enzymes with low affinity for the gas, which enable hypoxic (low oxygen) responses to propagate when O2 concentrations fall below a certain threshold.

Recent work conducted in collaboration with researchers at the University of Oxford and the University of Pisa has identified a novel O2 sensing enzyme in humans called cysteamine dioxygenase (aka 2-aminoethanethiol dioxygenase (ADO)), which regulates the stability of some interesting cellular targets by mediating their access to the N-degron pathway of protein degradation ( Information on this system will help us understand how mammalian cells adapt to hypoxia, potentially allowing therapeutic strategies to treat detrimental health conditions where oxygen delivery is impaired, such as cardiovascular disease and cancer, to be developed.

Funding Notes

This posting is for applicants looking for supervisor support if they wish to apply for scholarship programs only.

Applicants must hold a bachelors degree in a biological or chemical science, have a strong academic record and prior laboratory experience, inducing, but not limited to a Masters degree, a Honours degree or time as a research assistant. Applicants must also meet the University requirements for English language proficiency.


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