Undergraduate Programs

IMB offers a range of opportunities for undergraduate students, whether you are enrolled at UQ or elsewhere, advance your studies and contribute to the world-leading discoveries of the institute.

Undergraduates may be eligible for the Director's Award for Research Training (DART).

IMB supports the UQ Winter Research Program, allowing exceptional students the opportunity to gain valuable research experience working alongside some of the university’s leading academics and researchers. Participation will extend your knowledge of an area of interest and develop your analytical, critical thinking and communication skills.

IMB Undergraduate Research Projects are available in select IMB Research Groups for a duration between 4-5 weeks over the winter vacation period, commencing 21 June 2021.

For eligibility criteria, additional information and to submit your application, please see the UQ Student Employability Centre website.

IMB values diversity and encourages applications from individuals who identify as being Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander.

For a summary of the type of research undertaken by each IMB group, please visit the IMB Research Groups website.

Available Projects for Winter 2021

Project title: 

Regulation of liver physiology by circadian and feeding rhythms

Project duration, hours of engagement & delivery mode

4 – 5 weeks and applicant will be required on-site for the project

30-36hrs per week

Description:

This project aims at characterizing the molecular mechanism involved in the circadian regulation of protein secretion by the liver by circadian and feeding rhythms. The student will participate to omics data analysis to develop hypothesis and use classical biochemistry techniques on samples from mouse tissue or cultured cells to confirm the signalling pathways involved in this regulation.

Expected outcomes and deliverables:

The student will gain knowledge in data analysis and physiology and develop skills and technical expertise in biochemistry and molecular biology.

Suitable for:

Considering the multidisciplinary background of the project (physiology, molecular biology, biochemistry and data analysis), any science student (after 3rd year) could be interested by the project.

 

Primary Supervisor:

 

A/Prof Frederic Gachon

 

Further info:

https://imb.uq.edu.au/physiology-of-circadian-rhythms

f.gachon@uq.edu.au

Tel: 0428 579 696

 

 

Project title: 

Characterising gene regulatory networks that underpin cell identity and age-stage

Project duration & delivery

5 weeks and applicant will be required on-site for the project, but some aspects can also be performed off-site. Dry lab/computational biology project

Description:

The group’s research is centred around the study of cell fate transitions that occur rapidly as a consequence of forced cellular reprogramming (i.e. transdifferentiation), as well as the subtler and slower, albeit functionally meaningful, changes that occur as part of cellular ageing. To uncover transcription factors (TFs) that drive these processes, we have created a molecular atlas (RNAseq, ATACseq) comprised of dozens of mammalian cell types from both young and aged subjects.  

We are currently looking for “dry-lab” students interested in purely computational projects to dissect the TF network and how it is changing in the context of ageing, differentiation and transdifferentation (using techniques like TF motive prediction & network analysis). In collaboration with wet lab scientists, hypotheses derived from the candidate’s analyses will be tested using in vitro cell models (e.g. can we “reprogramme” aged cells to work more efficiently by targeting age-altered transcriptional circuits).

Expected outcomes and deliverables:

The student will gain experience in working with state-of-the-art computational pipelines and advanced methods in the field of computational biology. Students will be asked to communicate their findings to the lab (e.g. short report or oral presentation) at the end of their project, and will be given detailed feedback, to help develop their science communication skills. The work will be embedded within ongoing research studies and, if performed well, incorporated into publications (authorship on these studies can be expected).

Suitable for:

This project is suitable for 3rd – 4th year students. The ideal candidate has some demonstrated background in computational bioinformatics and as such is comfortable writing code in languages such as R, Matlab, Perl, or Python. 

Primary Supervisor:

 

Dr Christian Nefzger

Dr Marina Naval-Sanchez

Dr Amin Esmail

Further info:

For all enquires please email c.nefzger@imb.uq.edu.au

 

Project title: 

How diabetes mellitus disrupts the foundation of the nervous system

Project duration, hours of engagement & delivery mode

4 -5 weeks and the applicant will be required to be onsite (minimum 20hrs/week).

Description:

Diabetes mellitus is associated with a higher incidence of congenital abnormalities such as neural tube defects, but the underlying mechanisms are unknown. The neural tube is formed by remodelling of the actin cytoskeleton and gives rise to the brain and the spinal cord.

This project will use a chick embryo model of diabetes mellitus to understand how hyperglycemia affects the actin cytoskeleton and disrupts neural tube formation.

Expected outcomes and deliverables:

The applicant will learn embryology, immunostaining and microscopy techniques.

Suitable for:

This project is open to applications from students with interests in cell and developmental biology, physiology or molecular biology.

Primary Supervisor:

 

Dr Melanie White

Further info:

For further information, students may contact Dr Melanie White: melanie.white@imb.uq.edu.au

 

Project title: 

Understanding microtubules in cell migration

Project duration, hours of engagement & delivery mode

4-5 weeks and the applicant will be required on-site for the project.

COVID-19 considerations: The project will be mostly wet-lab (80%), accompanied by analysis of microscopy data (20%). The analysis could be completed under a remote working arrangement.

Description:

Cancer cells spread aggressively through tissues by adapting their cell shape to fit the environment in addition to altering their environment so they can squeeze through tight tissue spaces. Cancer cells sense and become more invasive following changes in the biophysical properties of their microenvironment including increases in stromal stiffness and interstitial fluid pressures. These changes make cancer cells more compliant and adaptive to fluctuations in their surrounding environment allowing them to alter their shape to squeeze through tight spaces more effectively.

Cells have integrative sensory mechanisms where key proteins undergo conformational changes or activation in response to force to induce biochemical signalling. This allows forces felt at the cell membrane to be transmitted and interpreted as a biochemical signal- similar to a ligand binding to a surface receptor. Several properties of the microtubule cytoskeleton make it an ideal structure integrate and translate these forces.

This project extends our work investigating the role of the microtubule binding protein, CLASP, in regulating microtubule functions in cell migration. CLASPs bind to microtubules, acting to stabilise them and promote their growth – key functions in migration. This project will investigate how CLASPs regulate cytoskeletal crosstalk in migration and invasion.

Expected outcomes and deliverables:

The scholars will gain skills in cell culture, shRNA, immunoblotting, immunofluorescence, cancer culture models, microscopy, image analysis and figure assembly for publications. Students will be expected to produce a summary document the end of their project.

Suitable for:

This project is suited to applications with a background in cell biology who are interested in undertaking post graduate studies in their future education.  (Honours, Masters, PhD).

Primary Supervisor:

 

Dr Samantha Stehbens

Further info:

Please feel free to contact Dr Stehbens with any questions regarding the project. S.stehbens@uq.edu.au

Project title: 

Ex vivo study of new antimicrobials

Project duration, hours of engagement & delivery mode

For the Winter program, duration of this project is anticipated for 5 weeks and hours of engagement about 36hrs per week.

COVID-19 considerations:

The project is design for the on-site work, but can be completed under a remote working arrangement for the review writing instead.

Description:

There is an urgent demand for antimicrobial agents effective against multi-drug resistant bacteria (MDR). Careless use of antibiotics has led to untreatable infections, and this rise and spread of resistant bacteria is a serious threat for health systems across the globe. With the ongoing increase in drug resistance, the topical skin treatment of bacterial diseases necessitating the development of alternative approaches.

As one possible solution, we propose testing nature derived potential antimicrobials as alternative to antibiotics.

In this study, several nature-derived compounds will be tested and analytical techniques such as isothermal titration calorimetry and mass spectroscopy will be used to examine their structures and interactions. They will be also tested for their antimicrobial activity by micro-broth dilution.

Expected outcomes and deliverables:

This project will suit students who are interested in chemistry and analytical chemistry and will enable the students to get hands on experience with analytical chemistry equipment and techniques, such ITC, LCMS and MS.

With the pre-existing data there is a high possibility that the manuscript for the publication will be written in the end of the project and after edition will be submitted for publication.

Suitable for:

This project is open to applications from students with a background in (bio)-chemistry and analytical chemistry with skills in processing generated data, 3-4-year students.

Primary Supervisor:

 

Dr Zyta Ziora

Further info:

z.ziora@uq.edu.au

m.blaskovich@uq.edu.au

IMB supports the UQ Summer Research Program, allowing exceptional students the opportunity to gain valuable research experience working alongside some of the university’s leading academics and researchers. Participation will extend your knowledge of an area of interest and develop your analytical, critical thinking and communication skills.

IMB Undergraduate Research Projects are available in select IMB Research Groups for a duration between 6-10 weeks over the summer vacation period, commencing 29 November 2021.

For eligibility criteria, additional information and to submit your application, please see the UQ Student Enrichment and Employability Development website.

IMB values diversity and encourages applications from individuals who identify as being Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander.

For a summary of the type of research undertaken by each IMB group, please visit the IMB Research Groups website.

 

Available Projects for Summer 2021/2022

 

Project title: 

Soils for Science: Antibiotics from Qld Backyards

Project duration, hours of engagement & delivery mode

6-10 weeks, 36 hours per week

Description:

This research project based in the IMB Capon Group (https://imb.uq.edu.au/research-groups/capon) involves isolating, photographing and cryo-preserving pure bacterial and fungal isolates from Qld backyard soil samples assembled under the Soils for Science initiative    (https://imb.uq.edu.au/soilsforscience/). Solvent extracts prepared from each isolate will be analysed by mass spectrometry and antibiotic assays, to detect new classes of natural product with promising antibiotic properties.

Expected outcomes and deliverables:

The successful scholars will gain skills spanning microbiology and chemistry, while working in a dedicated microbial biodiscovery research laboratory. More specifically they will gain experience in:

  • cultivation of microbes from soils
  • isolation, photography, and cryopreservation of pure microbial strains
  • chemical and antibiotic profiling of microbial extracts

Scholars will also acquire skills in safe lab practice, and scientific data acquisition, analysis, archive and communication.

Suitable for:

This project is suitable for 3rd – 4th year students majoring in microbiology, and with knowledge of organic chemistry.

Primary Supervisor:

Prof. Robert J. Capon

Dr Zeinab Khalil

 

Further info:

For all enquires please email z.khalil@uq.edu.au

 

 

Project title: 

Role of adhesion molecules in immune system modulation

Project duration & delivery

10 weeks, 36 hrs per week, and will be required on-site for the project.  

Description:

Innate Immune cells such as macrophages, express a cellular machinery, so called inflammasomes, that are activated in response to danger signals and injury and provide the first defence of the organism. The interactions between endothelial cells expressing adhesion molecules and macrophages are important for activation of the inflammasomes and are involved in pathophysiology of chronic inflammatory diseases. However, the mechanism of inflammasomes activation by adhesion molecules is not understood. This project aims to delineate those inflammatory processes and to investigate the interactions between macrophages and adhesion molecules leading to chronic inflammation.

Expected outcomes and deliverables:

The successful scholar will gain skills in primary cellular culture, basic immunology techniques such as ELISA and western blots and data analysis.  The candidate will write a report and give oral presentation at the end of their project.

 

Suitable for:

This project is open to applications from students with a background in biology, molecular biology, science, or pharmacology, with some experience in cellular culture and molecular biology. Preferably students in 3rd year of their study.

Primary Supervisor:

 

Dr. Hana Starobova

Further info:

For all enquires please email h.starobova@imb.uq.edu.au

 

 

Project title: 

Inflammasome signalling during infection or disease

Project duration, hours of engagement & delivery mode

10 weeks, 20-36 hrs per week, and will be required on-site for the project.  

Description:

During injury or infection, our body’s immune system protects us by launching inflammation. But uncontrolled inflammation drives diseases such as gout, diabetes, neurodegenerative disease, and cancer. The Inflammasome Lab is defining the molecular and cellular processes of inflammation. We seek to unravel the secrets of inflammasomes – protein complexes at the heart of inflammation and disease – to allow for new therapies to fight human diseases

 

Several projects are on offer and will be tailored to the interests of the successful applicants. Suitable topics include elucidation of: (1) mechanisms underpinning inflammasome signalling and pyroptotic cell death; (2) protective functions of inflammasomes during infection; and (3) pathogenic functions of inflammasomes during diseases such as genetic auto-inflammatory diseases, chronic liver disease or neurodegenerative diseases. Project techniques may include molecular biology (e.g. cloning, protein chemistry), cell biology (cell culture and ectopic gene expression, microscopy, flow cytometry) and/or in vivo models of infection or disease.

Expected outcomes and deliverables:

Scholars will gain skills in immunology, molecular and cell biology, microbiology, and/or disease modelling, as well as data collection, analysis, and presentation. Scholars will have an opportunity to generate publications from their research. Students may also be asked to produce a report or oral presentation at the end of their project and will be given detailed feedback on these to enhance their communication skills.

Suitable for:

This project is open to applications from students with a background in immunology and/or microbiology. Preference will be given to candidates in their third year of studies.

Primary Supervisor:

Prof. Kate Schroder

 

Further info:

www.inflammasomelab.com

For project queries please contact k.schroder@imb.uq.edu.au

 

 

Project title: 

Circadian clock regulation of liver cellular organisation and morphology

Project duration, hours of engagement & delivery mode

8-10 weeks, 36hrs per week, could be partially performed remotely.

 

Description:

Our recent research show that the liver is subject to daily size fluctuations controlled by the circadian clock and feeding rhythms. The project will consist in further description of these changes through the analysis of histological slices and electron-microscopy images to describe the impact of time of day and the circadian clock on liver organisation and morphology.

Expected outcomes and deliverables:

The scholar will gain knowledge in image and data analysis as well as mammalian circadian physiology.

Suitable for:

 

 

Open to any science student (after 2nd year) with good knowledge of IT technologies.

Primary Supervisor:

Dr. Benjamin Weger

A/Prof. Frederic Gachon

Further info:

https://imb.uq.edu.au/physiology-of-circadian-rhythms

Frederic.gachon@uq.edu.au

Tel: 0428579696

 

 

Project title: 

Atomic level structural studies of the Commander and Retromer protein complexes

Project duration, hours of engagement & delivery mode

6-8 weeks and applicant will be required on-site for the project.

Description:

Using recombinant protein expression, you will help to produce and characterise one of two essential protein complexes. Retromer is required for membrane trafficking from organelles called endosomes and is mutated in Parkinson’s disease. Commander is a distantly related complex also involved in intracellular membrane trafficking of receptors including the amyloid precursor protein and lipoprotein receptors, and its mutation causes X-linked intellectual disability. Using biophysical analysis, crystallisation screens and structure determination we are aiming to determine how these protein complexes are assembled at the molecular level.

Expected outcomes and deliverables:

Techniques that you may learn include bacterial cell culturing, DNA purification and handling and cell transfection, protein purification and crystallisation for X-ray diffraction structure determination. There may also be scope for performing protein structural analyses.

Suitable for:

This project is open to applications from 3rd year students with a background and interest in biochemistry, cell biology or structural biology. Some experience in lab work (e.g., pipetting, cell culturing) would be beneficial.

Primary Supervisor:

Prof. Brett Collins

Further info:

For all enquires please email b.collins@imb.uq.edu.au

 

Project title: 

Generation of endodermal cell types through cell reprogramming

Project duration, hours of engagement & delivery mode

10 weeks, 20-36 hours per week, and applicant will be required on-site for the project.

Description:

While the identity of terminally differentiated cells was once considered to be static, Takahashi and Yamanaka (2006) showed that by forcing the expression of transcription factors (TFs) such as Oct4, Klf4, Sox2 and c-Myc somatic cells can be reprogrammed towards the pluripotent state. These cells are called induced pluripotent stem (iPS) cells and the phenomenon demonstrates that development is not unidirectional. Akin to iPS cell generation other TF combinations have been uncovered that allow direct transdifferentiation of one cell type into another one, such as direct reprogramming of fibroblasts into functional neurons using Ascl1, Brn2, Myt1 (Vierbuchen et al., 2010). Both iPSC generation and trans-differentiation show that a small number of TFs can reset the entire epigenome. Understanding how the TF network is rearranged between two different cell states by reprogramming is essential to improve existing reprogramming strategies and to enable new kinds of controlled cell state transitions. The aim of the project is the testing of TFs identified by the host laboratory for their ability to generate endodermal cell types (e.g. lung epithelial cells) from other cell sources via reprogramming.

Expected outcomes and deliverables:

Scholars will deepen established and acquire new laboratory skills (e.g. basic molecular biology techniques, cell culture, genetic modification of cells with lentiviruses). Scholars will be asked to communicate their findings to the lab (e.g. short report or oral presentation) at the end of their project, and will be given detailed feedback, to help develop their science communication skills. The work will be embedded within ongoing research studies and, if performed well, incorporated into publications (authorship on these studies can be expected). The project could form the basis for future projects in the host laboratory.

Suitable for:

This project is open to applicants with a background in biotechnology, molecular biology, or cell biology. The ideal candidate has some experience with cell culture.

Primary Supervisor:

Dr Christian Nefzger

Dr Xiaoli Chen

 

Further info:

For informal conversations before submission of applications please contact Dr Christian Nefzger c.nefzger@imb.uq.edu.au

 

Project title: 

Dissecting the ageing transcription factor network

Project duration, hours of engagement & delivery mode

10 weeks, 20-36 hours per week. The project can be performed on-site or remotely.

Description:

On a cellular level, ageing appears to be a largely epigenetic phenomenon. To uncover transcription factors (TFs) and chromatin state changes that drive ageing in different cell types, we have generated a molecular atlas (RNAseq, ATACseq) comprised of dozens of mammalian cell types from both young and aged subjects. By pinpointing and analysing age-related changes to the TF network the project will reveal if there are TFs or TF families that drive ageing across different cell types or if ageing is a largely cell type specific process. The project will leverage bulk data and entail computational techniques related to quantification of TF activity levels. Integrative network analyses between transcriptional and chromatin state data will also be performed. The project aims to improve our understanding about the ageing process to ultimately find new ways that make aged cells work more efficiently. The student will be well supervised and does not need to be directly familiar with the analysis procedures for this project, however the ideal candidate will be able to efficiently program in R or Python. Students placed overseas who want to conduct a project remotely are welcome too. 

Expected outcomes and deliverables:

Scholars will gain experience in working with methods in the field of computational biology. Scholars will be asked to communicate their findings to the lab (e.g. short report or oral presentation) at the end of their project, and will be given detailed feedback, to help develop their science communication skills. The work will be embedded within ongoing research studies and, if performed well, incorporated into publications (authorship on these studies can be expected). The project could form the basis for future projects in the host laboratory.

Suitable for:

This project is open to applications from students with a background in bioinformatics/computational biology. The ideal candidate has some demonstrated background in bioinformatics and as such is comfortable writing code in languages such as R, Matlab, Perl, or Python. 

Primary Supervisor:

Dr Christian Nefzger

Dr Marina Naval-Sanchez

Further info:

For informal conversations before submission of applications please contact Dr Christian Nefzger c.nefzger@imb.uq.edu.au

 

Project title: 

Synthesising conjugate drugs to kill bad bugs: Combining antibiotics to fight antimicrobial resistance

Project duration, hours of engagement & delivery mode

10 weeks, 36 hours per week, and the applicant will be required on-site for the duration of the project.

Description:

The project explores an innovative approach to treat drug-resistant infections and fight antimicrobial resistance (AMR). The approach involves functionalising legacy antibiotics with synthetic handles to allow different antibiotics to be covalently linked together.

 

Aim: To synthesis a set of azide functionalised antibiotics and subsequently generate a small library of antibiotic-antibiotic hybrids.

Expected outcomes and deliverables:

Scholars will gain skills in synthetic chemistry and drug design. The successful applicant will have a chance to synthesis and characterise novel compounds and potentially contribute to research publications. They can expect to gain valuable knowledge and experience in synthesising, purifying, and characterising novel compounds.

 

Scholars may also be asked to produce a report or oral presentation at the end of their project.

Suitable for:

This project is open to enthusiastic applications with a background or strong interest in synthetic medicinal chemistry (3rd year students are preferred).

Primary Supervisor:

A/Prof. Mark Blaskovich

 

Further info:

For all enquires please email m.blaskovich@imb.uq.edu.au

 

Project title: 

Isolating active components from the fractions obtained after yeast fermentation process

Project duration, hours of engagement & delivery mode

10 weeks, 36 hours per week, and the applicant will be required on-site for the duration of the project.

Description:

This project suits students who are interested in chemistry and analytical chemistry applied for the antimicrobials testing and, enables scholars to get hands on experience with analytical chemistry equipment and techniques, such ITC, LCMS and MS.

 

Aim: To isolate major components from yeast-fermented fractions and then physico-chemically characterize them and bio-evaluate them.

Expected outcomes and deliverables:

Scholars will gain skills in using HPLC, MS and NMR techniques. The successful applicate will apply HPLC to isolated compounds from factions and then will characterise them by MS and NMR. The potential interactions of these compounds with some metal ions (Ag+, Zn++, Cu++) will be investigated by Isothermal Titration Calorimetry (ITC).

 

Scholars may also be asked to produce a report or oral presentation at the end of their project and potentially contribute to research publications.

Suitable for:

This project is open to enthusiastic applications with a background or strong interest in analytical and medicinal chemistry (3rd year students are preferred).

Primary Supervisor:

A/Prof. Mark Blaskovich

Dr. Zyta Ziora

Further info:

For all enquires please email z.ziora@imb.uq.edu.au

 

Project title: 

Ex vivo study of new antimicrobials

Project duration, hours of engagement & delivery mode

10 weeks, 36 hours per week, and the applicant will be required on-site for the duration of the project.

Description:

This project suits students who are interested in medicinal and analytical chemistry applied for the antimicrobials testing and enables students to get hands on experience with animal tissues such pig ears skin, porcine.

 

Aim: To bio-evaluate novel antimicrobials in ex-vivo experiments.

Expected outcomes and deliverables:

Scholars will gain skills in using HPLC, LC-MS techniques. The successful applicate will apply HPLC to analyse the prepared antimicrobial samples at various concentrations and formulations. Then, prepared formulations will be bio-evaluated in ex-vivo experiments.

 

Scholars may also be asked to produce a report or oral presentation at the end of their project and potentially contribute to research publications.

Suitable for:

This project is open to enthusiastic applications with a background or strong interest in analytical and medicinal chemistry (3rd year students are preferred).

Primary Supervisor:

A/Prof. Mark Blaskovich

Dr. Zyta Ziora

Further info:

For all enquires please email z.ziora@imb.uq.edu.au

 

Project title: 

Towards the synthesis of new immunomodulators from a bacterial natural product

Project duration, hours of engagement & delivery mode

6 weeks, 36 hours per week, and the applicant will be required on-site for the duration of the project.

Description:

Background: MAIT cells (mucosal associated invariant T cells) are a major population of T cells in humans of emerging importance. In 2014, we discovered that the bacterial natural product 5-OP-RU activates MAIT cells with exquisite potency. We have since synthesised 5-OP-RU, which has become an essential research tool for studying MAIT cells worldwide (20+ labs). MAIT cell activation has now been implicated in roles in vaccination, cancer immunotherapy, but also in inflammatory diseases.

Gaps: 5-OP-RU is chemically too unstable for future medicines (half-life 88 mins). Also, there are no potent compounds that inhibit MAIT cell activation.

Approach: We have identified components of 5-OP-RU that could be modified to confer chemical stability without affecting biological function, leading to the design of a new stable 5-OP-RU mimic. We have also designed new molecules that could block MAIT cell activation. These molecules need to be synthesised in order to determine their immunological properties, stabilities, and its potential utility in future medicines, including for COVID-19.

Aim: This project aims to establish early synthetic methodology towards a new stable analogue of 5-OP-RU, or a stable inhibitor of MAIT cell activation.

Expected outcomes and deliverables:

Two scholarships are available. The students will:

  1. experience conducting research in a dynamic and multidisciplinary research laboratory
  2. gain valuable skills in conducting organic synthesis, including advanced reaction techniques and compound characterisation
  3. gain exposure in the design of biologically-active molecules and appropriate synthetic routes
  4. contribute to publications, depending on project outcomes

 

The students will be expected to:

  1. contribute to the synthesis of new analogues
  2. give a short oral presentation, depending on project results

Suitable for:

This project is for enthusiastic organic chemistry students who have completed 2nd year and aim to study (or have already studied) CHEM3001.

Primary Supervisor:

Dr Jeffrey Mak

Further info:

For all enquires please email j.mak@uq.edu.au

 

Project title: 

Web applications to explore multi-omic datasets for reproductive traits and diseases

Project duration, hours of engagement & delivery mode

10 weeks. Initial on-site training for the project is recommended and regular on-site attendance is preferred however, the project can be completed remotely if the applicant has access to reliable internet and computing facilities.

Description:

Reproductive conditions account for the largest female health expenditure in Australia. Human endometrium is a highly specialised and complex tissue that plays a vital role in female fertility, embryo implantation and pregnancy. Our group is focused on using genetics and genomics to increase our knowledge of the factors affecting endometrial biology and contributing to reproductive traits and diseases such as endometriosis. We have produced multiple omic datasets in our research including the largest expression and methylation datasets for endometrium and endometrial cell types. The aim of this project is to design and create computer/web based interactive visualisation tools that will allow other researchers to access information from and integrate results across our datasets.  This resource would allow researchers to interrogate various aspects of our data, alongside publicly available data, to answer research questions and ultimately increase our understanding of genetic and epigenetic mechanisms contributing to female reproductive traits and diseases.

Expected outcomes and deliverables:

The scholar will develop online interactive tools/databases to visualise and search omic datasets generated by our group. In doing so, the scholar will gain skills in handling and interpreting various omic datasets including gene expression data (array & RNA-seq), methylation data and genotype data. They will also develop skills in data visualisation and integration, programming, and webpage/app development. The student will also be a part of manuscript preparation to generate publications from their work.

Suitable for:

This project is open to applications from students with a basic background in computing, data visualisation, statistics and/or bioinformatics. Any experience in statistical computing software (eg. R) and data visualisation software (eg. Shiny, UCSC genome browser, IGV) is also preferred but not mandatory. A basic background in molecular biology and/or genetics would also be beneficial.

Primary Supervisor:

Dr Sally Mortlock

Further info:

Please contact Dr Sally Mortlock prior to applying.

Ph: +61 7 3346 2077

Email: s.mortlock@imb.uq.edu.au

 

Project title: 

Optimisation of tissue-clearing and immunofluorescent staining of whole mount quail embryos

Project duration, hours of engagement & delivery mode

10 weeks, 20-36 hours per week, and the applicant will be required on-site for the duration of the project.

Description:

Our lab uses quails as a model organism to understand the development of the nervous system. The aim of this project is to optimise a tissue-clearing and immunostaining protocol to enable whole mount imaging and analysis of early quail development.

Expected outcomes and deliverables:

The scholar will learn embryology, immunostaining, and microscopy techniques.

 

Suitable for:

This project is open to applications from 3rd year or postgraduate students with interests in cell and developmental biology, physiology, or molecular biology.

Primary Supervisor:

Dr. Melanie White

 

Further info:

For further information, students may contact Dr Melanie White: melanie.white@imb.uq.edu.au

 

Project title: 

Maternal coffee consumption and its influence on birth outcomes

Project duration, hours of engagement & delivery mode

10 weeks with 36 hours per week. The applicant is expected to be on-site for the project. The project can be completed under a remote working arrangement considering potential COVID-19 restrictions.

 

Description:

Background: Observational studies have shown associations between maternal coffee consumption during pregnancy and birth outcomes.

Aim: Investigate whether there are causal relationships between maternal coffee consumption and child’s birth weight and the risk of stillbirth and miscarriage.

Hypothesis: The observational associations are driven by confounding factors rather than causality.

Approach: We will perform Mendelian randomisation analysis using publicly available genome-wide association studies summary statistics and data from the UK Biobank.

Expected outcomes and deliverables:

Scholars may gain skills in processing large-scale data, R programming, and conducting Mendelian randomisation analyses, and have an opportunity to present the results at scientific symposium/conference and generate publications for their research.

Suitable for:

This project is open to applications from students with a background in genetics and statistics.

Primary Supervisor:

 

Dr. Daniel Hwang

Further info:

Please contact Daniel Hwang at d.hwang@uq.edu.au prior to applying.

 

 

Project title: 

Understanding microtubules in cell migration

Project duration, hours of engagement & delivery mode

10 weeks and the applicant will be required on-site for the project.

COVID-19 considerations: The project will be mostly wet-lab (80%), accompanied by analysis of microscopy data (20%). The analysis could be completed under a remote working arrangement.

 

Description:

Cancer cells spread aggressively through tissues by adapting their cell shape to fit the environment in addition to altering their environment so they can squeeze through tight tissue spaces. Cancer cells sense and become more invasive following changes in the biophysical properties of their microenvironment including increases in stromal stiffness and interstitial fluid pressures. These changes make cancer cells more compliant and adaptive to fluctuations in their surrounding environment allowing them to alter their shape to squeeze through tight spaces more effectively.

Cells have integrative sensory mechanisms where key proteins undergo conformational changes or activation in response to force to induce biochemical signalling. This allows forces felt at the cell membrane to be transmitted and interpreted as a biochemical signal- similar to a ligand binding to a surface receptor. Several properties of the microtubule cytoskeleton make it an ideal structure integrate and translate these forces.

This project extends our work investigating the role of the microtubule binding protein, CLASP, in regulating microtubule functions in cell migration. CLASPs bind to microtubules, acting to stabilise them and promote their growth – key functions in migration. This project will investigate how CLASPs regulate cytoskeletal crosstalk in migration and invasion.

Expected outcomes and deliverables:

The scholars will gain skills in cell culture, shRNA, immunoblotting, immunofluorescence, cancer culture models, microscopy, image analysis and figure assembly for publications. Students will be expected to produce a summary document the end of their project. They will have an opportunity to generate data that contributes to a publication from their research. 

 

Suitable for:

This project is suited to applications with a background in cell biology who are interested in undertaking post graduate studies in their future education (Honours, Masters, PhD).

Primary Supervisor:

 

Dr. Samantha Stehbens

 

Further info:

For all enquires please email s.stehbens@uq.edu.au.

 

 

Project title: 

The Causal Effect of Intrauterine Exposures on the Long-Term Future Health of Children

Project duration, hours of engagement & delivery mode

10 weeks, 36 hours per week, and the applicant may conduct this project remotely.

Description:

Observational studies are prone to confounding and conclusions regarding causality cannot easily be drawn. Mendelian randomization (MR) is a method that uses genetic data to provide information on causality in observational studies. We will use MR to explore if the previously observed relationship between maternal exposures and both birth weight and other later life outcomes is causal. The specifics of exposures and outcomes of interest can be discussed.

Expected outcomes and deliverables:

Scholars will have an opportunity to work in a research group, gain skills in data analysis and generate publications from their research.

Suitable for:

The student should be familiar with the software R. It would also be preferred if the student have some background or interest in bioinformatics, genetics, or epidemiology.

Primary Supervisor:

 

Prof. David Evans

Dr. Daniel Hwang

Further info:

For all enquires please email d.evans1@uq.edu.au or d.hwang@uq.edu.au