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Understanding genetic diversity within haematopoeisis and utilizing this knowledge to drive therapeutic development in Bone Marrow Failure Syndromes


College of Health and Medicine

, Applications accepted all year round Funded PhD Project (Students Worldwide)

About the Project

Bone Marrow Failure Syndromes (BMFS) are a rare and heterogenous group of diseases that have in common an inability of the bone marrow to produce sufficient erythrocytes, leukocytes and platelets to meet physiological demand. They are complex, chronic and debilitating, with significant morbidity and mortality. New therapeutic options are urgently needed. That is why we are seeking highly motivated, talented and enthusiastic candidates for a fully funded post-doctoral scholarship.

The successful candidate will have an undergraduate honours or masters degree preferably have experience with wet laboratory skills (cloning and cell culture would be ideal) and an interest in bioinformatics. They will join a committed and dynamic team at The Menzies Institute of Medical Research to complete a PhD through the University of Tasmania investigating novel gene regulatory pathways in Bone Marrow Failure.

New therapies and markers for bone marrow failure will be identified by answering fundamental questions such as “What genes determine the proportion of specific cell types in the blood?” and “What are the underlying genetic drivers for gene expression in different blood cells?” Using the power of high throughput genotyping and single cell RNA sequencing our team has recently completed a gene-wide association study (GWAS) where we have identified key genomic regions that have a clear effect on gene regulation in blood cells. The laboratory-based PhD candidate would primarily focus on the CRISPR modification of Haematopoietic Stem Cells (HSCs), fundamental for the high-throughput functional validation of putative loci identified through GWAS-based mapping of bone marrow expression profiles. The cellular assays developed may also provide a platform for modeling variants of unknown significance uncovered in the clinic in BMFS patients. This work will lay the foundation for ongoing research into the genetic regulation of haematopoiesis, and thereby enable the dissection of molecular influences of aplastic anaemia.



Scholarship details:
The Menzies Institute for Medical Research is offering a 3-year fully funded PhD scholarship. Additional funding to support the Project is also available. The scholarship is available for domestic (Australian) students (international students please note Australia currently has a hold on any international arrivals for study due to COVID restrictions, if you want to be notified when this changes please fill in our application) supported by Maddie Riewoldt’s Vision and the University of Tasmania. The 3-year award includes all course fees, ~$27,000 AUD per year tax-free stipend and an allowance for conference attendance.

Location:
The scholarship is to be taken up in Hobart, an amazing city to live in with incredible mountain biking, hiking and water sports right on the doorstep. There will be travel to Melbourne and Sydney involved.

Supervisors:
Professor Alex Hewitt, a clinician-scientist, (https://scholar.google.com.au/citations?hl=en&user=mmRVDygAAAAJ) will supervise this project, with Dr Kirsten Fairfax (https://scholar.google.com.au/citations?user=rdgNDbAAAAAJ&hl=en) responsible for hands-on training and wet-laboratory support and supervision.

Requirements:
Applicants must possess a Bachelor’s or equivalent science or medicine degree with first-class Honours, and/or a distinction in a research Masters degree in a relevant discipline (e.g., genetics, immunology, stem cell development).

The PhD scholar must have:
a) Excellent written and verbal English;
b) The proven ability to work both independently and as part of a team; and
c) A First Class Honours Degree in molecular biology, genetics, oncology medicine, cellular biology or related fields.

* The scholarship is open to domestic (Australian and New Zealand) and international candidates;
* The degree must be undertaken on a full-time basis;
* Applicants must be able to demonstrate strong research and analytical skills.
* Candidates from a variety of disciplinary backgrounds are encouraged to apply.


The review of applications will begin immediately, short-listed candidates will be contacted and invited to interview.

If you are interested, please complete this form:
https://docs.google.com/forms/d/e/1FAIpQLSdawoNnC9RMI4KIYZxoFSUAyMjO6lmZxN0HkzLx_9AdXQw6nA/viewform?usp=sf_link

Background Information
Maddie Riewoldt’s Vision is Australia’s premier Bone Marrow Failure Syndrome not-for-profit, singularly focused on raising funds to support innovative scientific research towards finding new treatments, and ultimately cures for both acquired and inherited BMFS.

The University of Tasmania has a long and distinguished history of innovation and research excellence. Building on our distinctive island environment and intellectual capacity to solve global challenges, we have cemented a position within the top 2% of research institutions worldwide.

Funding for this PhD has been provided through the Alex Gadomski Fellowship and Maddie Riewoldt’s Vision (https://www.mrv.org.au/) together with UTas.

Funding Notes

This is a fully funded position for 3 years with a ~$27,000 AUD per year tax-free stipend and an allowance for conference attendance.

References

Fang L, Hung SSC, Yek J, El Wazan L, Nguyen T, et al., 'A simple cloning-free method to efficiently induce gene expression using CRISPR/Cas9', Molecular Therapy - Nucleic Acids, 14 pp. 184-191. ISSN 2162-2531 (2019) [Refereed Article]
DOI: 10.1016/j.omtn.2018.11.008

Li F, Hung SSC, Mohd Khalid MKN, Wang J-H, Chrysostomou V, et al., 'Utility of self-destructing CRISPR/Cas constructs for targeted gene editing in the retina', Human Gene Therapy, 30, (11) pp. 1349-1360. ISSN 1043-0342 (2019) [Refereed Article]
DOI: 10.1089/hum.2019.021

Bolden JE, Lucas EC, Zhou G, et al. Identification of a Siglec-F+ granulocyte-macrophage progenitor. J Leukoc Biol. 2018;104(1):123-133. doi:10.1002/JLB.1MA1217-475R

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