Postdoctoral Research Fellow, Division of Tropical Health and Medicine

Cairns, Australia
$92,575 - $109,233
13 Dec 2018
End of advertisement period
09 Jan 2019
Contract Type
Fixed Term
Full Time

Position Overview

The Australian Institute of Tropical Health and Medicine (AITHM) is a newly-established health and medical research institute within James Cook University that is funded by both state and federal governments. AITHM’s focus is on research in tropical health and medicine across a wide range of disciplines, with a particular focus on northern Australia, Papua New Guinea, and the Pacific.

An opportunity exists for a postdoctoral position to explore the mechanisms of action by which parasitic helminth proteins suppress inflammation in mouse models of colitis. This position offers the opportunity to expand on recent advances in the identification of hookworm proteins that modulate the host immune system to promote parasite survival. A knock-on effect of administration of these immunoregulatory proteins is prevention of autoimmune and allergic diseases that result from a dysregulated immune response. This work is conducted in the lab of Prof Alex Loukas at AITHM, and will be funded by investment from a multinational pharmaceutical company and venture capital. The successful applicant will drive studies in mice and with human cells aimed at understanding the mechanisms by which the lead proteins (as well as a pipeline of emerging new candidates) protect against colitis and suppress inflammatory cytokine production in human blood donor immune cells. The position will be formally supervised by and take scientific direction from Professor Alex Loukas (Cairns Campus).

Division of Tropical Health and Medicine

The Office of the Division of Tropical Health and Medicine provides collaborative leadership with the Colleges and ensures that the Colleges are able to deliver the core business of learning and teaching, research and engagement and contribute effectively to the strategic agenda. The Division office drives the strategic objectives of the Division and also services a proportion of College administrative operations. The Colleges of the Division include:

  • Medicine and Dentistry
  • Healthcare Sciences
  • Public Health, Medical and Veterinary Sciences

Organisational Charts

James Cook University

Division of Tropical Health and Medicine

Principal Accountabilities

  1. Execute projects in the treatment of inflammatory diseases with hookworm proteins, ensuring compliance with project agreements, effective scheduling and resource management.
  2. Effectively monitor and report progress against agreed milestones.
  3. Report and present project outcomes via regular progress reports for the investors, peer-reviewed publications and national/international conference presentations.
  4. Provide technical leadership of project teams, including the development and implementation of project plans, resource management, scheduling, and reporting.  
  5. Assist in the establishment of molecular immunology as a key research strength at AITHM.
  6. Support the University's commitment to the principles of reconciliation, which exemplify respect for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander heritage and the valuing of justice and equity for all Australians.
  7. Demonstrate a commitment to the University values.
  8. Support the principles of the TropEco program and engage in commitment to JCU sustainability goals and objectives.

Generic Accountabilities 

There are generic responsibilities that apply to all James Cook University staff. 

  1. The Postdoctoral Research Fellow is required to observe the lawful and reasonable directions, policies and decisions of the University Council, understand and comply with the Enterprise Agreement, the Statutes and Rules of the University, the policies and decisions of the University Council and other appropriate University authorities, as in force from time to time.
  2. The Postdoctoral Research Fellow is required to demonstrate a personal commitment to ensure personal safety and the safety of others and contribute to the continuous improvement of our WHS performance.  This includes the effective implementation and compliance with James Cook University WHS policies, procedures and safe systems of work, together with all relevant legislation, duties and obligations.  Contribute to the continuous improvement of our WHS performance.
  3. The Postdoctoral Research Fellow is required to exercise proper discretion in all matters affecting the well-being of the University which involve public writing or speaking in accordance with the University’s Code of Conduct. 

Selection Criteria

Selection and appointments will be assessed against selection criteria.


  1. A PhD in immunology and completion of at least one postdoctoral position of 3 or more years.
  2. A fundamental understanding of cellular and molecular immunology, and expertise in gut-/mucosal immunology and in the use of mice to model human disease.
  3. Expertise in flow cytometry, immunofluorescence microscopy, human and mouse cell cultures, working with various genetically modified mouse models (such as knockout mice, reporter mice) and mouse in vivo studies.
  4. Demonstrated proficiency to carry out high quality research, and record of professional achievement in the relevant discipline area, evidenced by factors such as at least one first authorship publication in one of the top ranked immunology journals in the last 2 years.
  5. Demonstrated high-level skills in written and verbal communication, organization, and time management. Good interpersonal skills, and an ability to work in a team environment. Capacity to think outside the box to foster creative achievement and innovative approaches.
  6. Experience in team management such as overseeing and coordinating a team of researchers, research assistants and staff, and co-supervision of students.


  1. Expertise in autoimmunity and immune regulation, in quantifying changes in mRNA expression, and in analysing immunofluorescence microscopy data by histo-cytometry.
  2. Experience working in a multidisciplinary environment, and in oral presentation of their work at national and international conferences in the relevant field