PhD Candidates in Biology

St Lucia, Brisbane, Australia
06 Apr 2017
End of advertisement period
04 May 2017
Academic Discipline
Life sciences, Biological Sciences
Contract Type
Fixed Term
Full Time

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 world-class chemistry laboratories, Southern hemisphere's most advanced structural biology facilities, state-of-the-art equipment for biophysical studies, 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:     

Three PhD positions are available for outstanding and enthusiastic students with an interest in peptides, ion channels and pain research, drug delivery, cell membrane interactions, molecular biophysics and structural biology. Successful applicants will be working under the supervision of Dr Christina Schroeder at the Institute for Molecular Bioscience (

The projects

We are seeking dynamic, intelligent, highly motivated PhD students to work on three different projects that will be further developed with input from the successful applicants, but will focus on the following:

1) Development of novel peptide-based pain therapeutics. We aim to develop disulfide-rich toxin-based peptides as novel therapeutics for neuropathic pain by studying the molecular mechanism behind the interaction of the tri-molecular complex including toxin, phospholipids and voltage-gated ion channels. The PhD candidate will be involved in design, pharmacological and structural elucidation of peptides inhibiting voltage-gated ion channels involved in pain perception. We are specifically interested in designing peptide-based ion channel inhibitors with high selectivity and potency, in order to minimize side effects.

2) Development of novel peptide-based ligands for unchartered ion channels. We aim to develop novel venom-derived hybrid peptides targeting understudied ion channels for the treatment of neuropathic pain using a top-down/bottom-up approach from a channel and ligand point-of-view. The PhD candidate will be involved in the peptide design, synthesis and molecular biology and pharmacology of yet explored, but pharmaceutically relevant ion channels. We are interested in developing novel inhibitors, identify their binding site and explore ion channel pharmacology and physiology.

3) Exploring features driving peptide-membrane permeability. We aim to understand the physiochemical properties that make peptides membrane permeable in order to understand what drives oral bioavailability. Using a rational design approach the PhD candidate will be involved in design and synthesis of peptides and peptidomimetics, structural characterization, membrane permeability and in vivo oral bioavailability. We are interested in developing novel molecular probes that will answer the question, what makes peptides orally bioavailable. 

The three projects are multidisciplinary, and will involve the design of peptides as novel therapeutics and include mode of action studies, peptide chemistry, protein expression, mammalian cell culture, molecular and cell biology, ion channel pharmacology, biochemical, biophysical and structural elucidation techniques. The projects will suit PhD candidates interested in both developing peptides as therapeutics and being exposed to cutting edge techniques in one of Australia's premier structural biology facilities.

The Candidates

Both Australian and international applicants are welcome to apply. Candidates should have a First Class Honours Degree or Master Degree (or equivalent) in biology, biophysics, chemistry, 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 enroll 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

Prospective students will be provided with assistance to apply for a UQ scholarship, or a domestic or international equivalent scholarship, for stipend and tuition support. For further information on scholarships please refer to Award of a 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 Dr Christina Schroeder and being assessed in the next available UQ scholarship round. The duration of the scholarship, its conditions and and eligibility for extensions is outlined in PPL 4.80.01 UQ Research Scholarships .

Enquiries and Application

For queries please contact Dr Christina Schroeder, email phone +61 7 3346 2021.

To submit an application for this role, use the Apply button below. All applicants must supply the following documents: Cover letter, Resume/CV and a copy of your Academic Record indicating GPA scores/grades, and grading scale details. 

Application closing date

11:55pm on 4 May 2017 (AEST)