PhD Scholarship in Quantitative Genetics

Brisbane, Australia
26 Oct 2018
End of advertisement period
15 Nov 2018
Contract Type
Fixed Term
Full Time

PhD Scholarship 

The University of Queensland's Institute for Molecular Bioscience is a leading global research institute. IMB was established in 2000 as UQ's first research institute and is the cornerstone of one of the largest bioscience research precincts in Australia. The Institute's 500 scientists, support staff and postgraduate students from more than 40 countries are working to improve quality of life for all. IMB has three major divisions and four research centres. IMB's multidisciplinary research programs focus on advancing medical genomics, drug discovery and biotechnology.

By investigating the basis of growth and development at the genetic, molecular, cellular and organ level, our researchers aim to better understand the development processes and pathways involved in human and animal health and disease. They also work to translate these findings into diagnostics, technologies and therapeutics to more effectively prevent, detect and treat disease.

IMB is equipped with state-of-the-art research infrastructure including mouse and zebrafish facilities, advanced imaging and genomics platforms, high-throughput sequencing, advanced bioinformatics and proteomics – all of which support the Institute's leading life sciences research. Details of the research interests of the Institute may be accessed on the Institute's website at:

The Program in Complex Trait Genomics (website: htttp:// is a joint initiative between the Institute for Molecular Bioscience (IMB) and the Queensland Brain Institute (QBI). Physically located in IMB, the broad research focus is towards a better understanding of complex traits and disorders, including psychiatric and neurological disorders. A key research strength is the development of underpinning computational and statistical analysis methods. The Program is led by an Executive comprising Prof Peter Visscher, Prof Naomi Wray and Prof Jian Yang who were awarded a five-year Program Grant by the Australian National Health and Medical Research Council, commencing in 2017. In addition, Peter Visscher was awarded a five-year Australian Research Council Laureate Fellowship in 2018 to enhance capacity in human complex trait genetics and genomics.

Visscher, Wray and Yang and their colleagues are internationally recognised for pioneering the use of multi-marker statistical methods in human genetics and for innovative methods in the analysis of genetic and genomic data of complex traits. Their research is regularly published in top journals such as Nature, Science, Nature Genetics, Nature Communications, Genome Research, American Journal of Human Genetics, PLoS Genetics and Molecular Psychiatry.

Research in the Program covers four major themes: Statistical Genomics, Systems Genomics, Psychiatric Genomics and Motor Neuron Disease Genomics. The Program consists of over 20 postdoctoral research staff as well as PhD students, research assistants and visiting academics. Current research involves; the development of novel statistical genetics methodology and software; analysis of genotype, expression and methylation array data alongside DNA and RNA sequencing data; application of statistical genetic methods to infer the genetic control of traits and diseases.

The role

The project may relate to one of the following aims:

AIM 1: To predict genetic regulatory mechanisms underpinning variation in complex traits. The goal is to develop and apply statistical methods to integrate GWAS results with omics data in large samples to predict putative gene

targets and regulatory mechanisms of how the genetic variants exert effects on complex traits through regulating the expression levels of genes at functional DNA elements.

AIM 2: To develop and apply statistical methods to large GWAS data for estimating the genetic architecture parameters for complex traits and detecting signatures of natural selection at the trait-associated genetic variants. The signature of natural selection can be inferred by estimating the joint distribution of effect sizes and allele frequencies for all genetic variants.

AIM 3: To quantify the genetic differences in complex traits between populations. This aim attempts to quantify the extent to which the GWAS findings in samples of European ancestry can be applied to non-European populations and to test whether the observed mean differences in complex traits among global populations are caused by genetic differentiation driven by natural selection.

The project will be carried out in Professor Jian Yang’s research group within the PCTG at IMB.

The Candidate

Both Australian and international applicants are welcome to apply. The successful candidate should have a First Class Honours Degree or Masters Degree (or equivalent), majoring in immunology, cell biology and/or biochemistry or a related discipline. Strong academic performance, good oral and written communication skills, and published output will be additional assessment criteria.

Applicants must be eligible to enrol in a PhD with the University of Queensland. For a complete list of the University of Queensland's minimum entry requirements please refer to:

Scholarship and Remuneration

Selected prospective international and domestic students will receive assistance to apply for University living allowance and tuition fee scholarships. The 2018 Research Training Program (RTP) living allowance stipend rate is AUD$27,082 (indexed annually), which is tax-free for three years with two possible extensions of up to 6 months each in approved circumstances (conditions apply).  For further information on scholarships refer to:

Award of the scholarship will be conditional upon the applicant applying for and obtaining an unconditional offer for entry to the PhD program at UQ, under the supervision of members of Prof Stow’s group and being assessed in the next available UQ scholarship round.

Enquiries and Application

For further information, please contact Dr Enda Byrne by email

For application, please upload a cover letter and a full resume.

Application closing date is Thursday, 15 November 2018.