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Identifying individuals at high risk of Alzheimer’s disease

Dementia is the greatest cause of disability in Australians over the age of 65 years. In the absence of a significant medical breakthrough, more than $6.4 million Australians will be diagnosed with dementia in the next 40 years. The most common form of dementia is Alzheimer’s disease (AD), accounting for 60-80% of cases. The pathogenic process of AD begins decades prior to the clinical onset, so it is likely that treatments need to begin early in the disease process to …

Study level
Master of Philosophy, Honours
Faculty
Faculty of Health
School
School of Biomedical Sciences
Research centre(s)

Therapeutic opportunities targeting epigenetic-metabolism crosswalks in cancer

Epigenetic and metabolic pathways in cancer cells are highly interconnected. Epigenetic landscape in cancer cells is modified by oncogene-driven metabolic changes. Metabolites modulate the activities of epigenetic modifying enzymes to regulate the expression of specific genes. Conversely, epigenetic deregulation that occurs in cancer affect the expression of metabolic genes, thereby altering the metabolome. These changes all coordinately enhance cancer cell proliferation, metastasis and therapy resistance. The overall aim of the project is to understand the link between the activity of …

Study level
Master of Philosophy, Honours
Faculty
Faculty of Health
School
School of Biomedical Sciences
Research centre(s)

Epigenetic regulation of non-coding RNAs in hypoxic tumours

In solid tumours, hypoxia occurs as a result of limitation on oxygen diffusion in avascular primary tumours or their metastases. Persistent hypoxia, significantly reduces the efficacy of radiation and chemotherapy and lead to poor outcomes. This is mainly due to increase in pro-survival genes that suppress apoptosis, enhance tumour angiogenesis, the epithelial-to-mesenchymal transition, invasiveness and metastasis. Much of tumour hypoxia research has been centred on examining the transcriptional targets of hypoxia inducible factors (HIFs).HypothesisEpigenetic changes mediate the effect of hypoxia …

Study level
Master of Philosophy, Honours
Faculty
Faculty of Health
School
School of Biomedical Sciences
Research centre(s)

Computational drug repurposing for neuropsychiatric disease

While hundreds of robust genetic associations have been found for neuropsychiatric disease (such as schizophrenia, major depression, and anxiety) understanding the exact molecular mechanisms leading to disease onset and progression remains challenging. Inherited (i.e. genetic) risk factors for many neuropsychiatric diseases converge on genes that are co-ordinately expressed (co-expressed) in a disease-relevant tissue (e.g. brain). The study of how genetic risk factors affect co-expressed genes (i.e. gene co-expression analysis) has the potential to uncover new biological processes underlying disease onset. …

Study level
Honours
Faculty
Faculty of Health
School
School of Biomedical Sciences
Research centre(s)

Investigating immunosuppression downstream of activated FGFR2 in endometrial cancer

FGFR2 encodes two alternatively spliced isoforms that differ in their ligand binding domain and the combination of tissue specific expression of these isoforms and tissue specific expression of the FGF ligands is the foundation of normal paracrine signalling. Isoform switching from FGFR2b (inclusion of exon 8) to FGFR2c (inclusion of exon 9) occurs in tumorigenesis as it establishes an autocrine loop in epithelial cancer cells. Our lab has reported that FGFR2 activation by mutations or isoform switching is associated with …

Study level
PhD
Faculty
Faculty of Health
School
School of Biomedical Sciences
Research centre(s)

Strain-level characterisation and visualisation of microbial communities associated with Inflammatory Bowel Disease

Inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) is a chronic, relapsing inflammatory disorder driven by complex interactions between environmental, microbial and immune-mediated factors. An unfavourable shift in gut microbiome composition, known as dysbiosis, is now considered a key feature of IBD, however it is unclear how specific microorganisms and their interactions with host cells contribute to disease onset and progression. Previous IBD studies have been largely limited to older sequencing methods with low resolution. Furthermore, these studies have predominantly focused on bacterial populations, …

Study level
PhD
Faculty
Faculty of Health
School
School of Biomedical Sciences
Research centre(s)

Improving cow fertility: targeting exosome-responsive pathways

Exosomes are small (40-120 nm), stable, lipid bilayer nanovesicles identified in biological fluids (e.g. in Until recently, genetic selection in dairy cows has focused primarily on milk production traits, with very few countries including functional traits such as fertility in selection indices. Poor reproductive efficiency in dairy herds results in fewer calves, reduced milk production, high involuntary culling rates and increased cow maintenance costs. The need for, and utility of, markers of early onset of diseases (or vulnerability to diseases) …

Study level
PhD, Master of Philosophy
Faculty
Faculty of Health
School
School of Biomedical Sciences
Research centre(s)

A novel diagnostic test for lung transplant rejection – circulating cell-free methylated DNA

Lung transplantation is a complex medical procedure for those with advanced lung disease. Average survival following lung transplantation is shorter than for any other solid organ. The median survival time of a lung transplant recipient is only 8 years due to a high incidence (over 75% at 10 years) of chronic rejection (also called chronic lung allograft dysfunction – CLAD). The clinical course of CLAD is progressive with irreversible lung injury that ultimately leads to lung failure. The median survival …

Study level
PhD
Faculty
Faculty of Health
School
School of Biomedical Sciences
Research centre(s)
Centre for Genomics and Personalised Health

PSA splice variant in prostate cancer diagnosis and pathogenesis

Current clinical prostate cancer screening is heavily reliant on measuring serum prostate specific antigen (PSA) levels. However, two-thirds of these men will not have cancer on biopsy and conversely, other prostate diseases. As a result, for ~75% of patients the large number of indolent tumours diagnosed has led to significant overtreatment creating an urgent need for appropriate prognostic assays that can distinguish indolent, slow growing tumours from the more aggressive and lethal phenotypes. PSA/KLK3 is a member of the tissue-kallikrein …

Study level
PhD, Master of Philosophy, Honours
Faculty
Faculty of Health
School
School of Biomedical Sciences
Research centre(s)

Immunotherapy for autoimmune disease using T cell receptor-modified T-regulatory cells

Autoimmune diseases affect approximately 5% of Australians. Well known examples include type I diabetes, multiple sclerosis and rheumatoid arthritis. These diseases have unpleasant, and sometimes tragic, consequences for the affected person and are a costly burden on our health system. As treatment is often limited to managing symptoms, new therapies for autoimmune diseases are much desired.Many autoimmune diseases are tightly associated with inheritance of a particular allele at the major histocompatibility complex (MHC, also called human leucocyte antigen or HLA). …

Study level
Master of Philosophy, Honours
Faculty
Faculty of Health
School
School of Biomedical Sciences
Research centre(s)

Centre for Immunology and Infection Control

Adaptive evolution of anaerobic methanotrophic (ANME) archaea mediating methane oxidation in freshwater environments

The as-yet-uncultured archaeal lineage Methanoperedenaceae are anaerobic methanotrophs with a key role in mitigating the atmospheric release of methane in freshwater environments. The metabolic diversity of these microorganisms directly links methane with several key biochemical cycles and suggests a remarkable ability of these microorganisms to adapt to diverse environmental conditions. The overall aim of this PhD project will be to uncover the metabolic diversity of the Methanoperedenaceae and to understand the evolutionary mechanisms responsible for these adaptations.Approaches/skills and techniquesThe project …

Study level
Master of Philosophy, Honours
Faculty
Faculty of Health
School
School of Biomedical Sciences
Research centre(s)

Can virus-based defective interfering particles (DIPS) be used to treat dengue infection?

Infection by dengue virus causes incapacitating and potentially dangerous acute disease in humans. Dengue is a mosquito-borne infectious disease with about 100 million serious clinical infections annually. Considerable effort in drug development is underway, but no effective drug therapy is available. A major difficulty for drug development is the rapid evolution of RNA viruses, like dengue virus, which presents a major challenge for controlling virus transmission and infection using conventional pharmaceuticals and vaccines.This project is based on the observation that …

Study level
Master of Philosophy
Faculty
Faculty of Health
School
School of Biomedical Sciences
Research centre(s)

Centre for Immunology and Infection Control

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