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Research Training Guide





Publisher: The University of Queensland’s Institute for Molecular Bioscience

The provision of education services to international students by Australian education institutions is governed by the Education Services for Overseas Students ( ESOS) Act 2000 and the National Code of Practice for Registration Authorities and Providers of Education and Training to Overseas Students 2007.


Before commencing your project at IMB, all students must visit IMB’s Postgraduate Office and complete a set of inductions. As an active member of an IMB research group, we also request that you assign your intellectual property to UQ prior to commencing your research. By assigning your intellectual property to UQ you become eligible to benefit from the resources of UniQuest and you will be treated identically to staff members in the sharing of financial benefits that may be gained from commercialisation.

The inclusion in this publication of details of a program or a course creates no obligation on the part of the University to teach it as or when described.


Editors: IMB Postgraduate Office and Communications team Date: May 2016 Place of publication: Brisbane, Australia Cover illustration: Appropriation of ‘Quantify and Observe’ by Joannah Underhill

The University may discontinue or vary programs and courses at any time without notice. Information in this Guide is accurate as at May 2016. While care has been taken to provide accurate information in this prospectus, it is the responsibility of students to check and confirm the specific details of programs, courses and enrolment. All costs and fees quoted in this publication are in Australian dollars (A$). Any agreement with this University does not remove the right to take action under Australia’s consumer protection laws. More information on Australian Consumer Protection can be found at 2

More information about UQ for international students, including the study environment, links to estimated living costs, refund policies, support services, information for students with families, and your legal rights as an international student can be found at

The University of Queensland, in providing education services to overseas students, complies with the National Code of Practice of the Department of Education and Training and the Universities Australia code of ethical practice. More information on the ESOS Framework can be found at education-services-overseas-students CRICOS Provider Number 00025B

PRIVACY The University complies with Australian and Queensland privacy laws and guidelines. More information on UQ’s Privacy Policy can be found at /privacy

Welcome to IMB


Creating change through discovery


Living in Brisbane


About IMB




Research divisions


Research centres


Research support facilities


Student community


Research programs, admission and scholarships




Honours program


Research higher degree programs


English language requirements


Key dates: research quarters and scholarship rounds


How to apply for an MPhil or PhD IMB Research Advancement Award (IMBRAA)

20 21

IMB Postgraduate Award (IMBPA)





As an IMB trainee, honours or research higher degree student, you will become a vital part of our scientific community, joining more than 400 scientists and students from around the world who are working together to improve quality of life through leading research and translation. DISCOVER MORE InstituteforMolecularBioscience


WELCOME TO IMB IMB’s research training is designed to give you every opportunity that a university in the world’s top 100 can give, including access to our world-class facilities, inspiring researchers, extensive academic and industry networks and free student support services. As an active member of one of our research groups, you will be encouraged to work closely with your colleagues and collaborators, expand your skill sets, seek answers to the tough questions, explore your scientific potential, and make the most of student life here at IMB and UQ. During your time at the institute, you will find our Students of IMB Association (SIMBA) to be a great way to connect with your peers for advice, support and a range of enjoyable social activities. We know studying is hard work, which is why our postgraduate team is committed to helping you get the most out of yourself and your studies. We encourage you to review the exciting research opportunities available to you at IMB and to talk to as many students and potential supervisors as you can. We look forward to welcoming you to our world of discovery.

Professor Brandon Wainwright Director, IMB

Professor Jenny Stow Deputy Director (Research), IMB


Public university founded 16 April 1910

50,830 total students

12,664 international students


140 countries

13,800 postgraduate students

230,000+ alumni

total since 1911

$ 377.3M

research income (2014)

*Statistics are accurate as at May 2016 and monetary amounts are in Australian dollars.


CREATING CHANGE THROUGH DISCOVERY When you choose The University of Queensland (UQ) to undertake a research program, you are choosing a truly worldclass university. As a research student at UQ you join a culture of research excellence.

Financial strength • Annual scholarship budget of almost $40 million from the Australian Government and UQ, which is provided to around 1800 research higher degree (RHD) students • More than $360 million in research funding from a variety of sources including the Australian Research Council (ARC) and the National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC).

First-class facilities UQ campuses are among the most attractive in Australia, boasting outstanding sporting and recreational facilities, as well as a vibrant campus culture and

World-renowned research • The Federal Government’s 2015 Excellence in Research for Australia exercise confirmed UQ as one of the nation’s top three universities, measured by the quality of its comprehensive range of specialised research fields. The assessment rated 95 per cent of UQ’s broad fields of research as above or well above world standard.

International reputation • UQ has established itself as an institution of global standing and impact. Positioned among the world’s top 100 universities, UQ is one of Australia’s premier learning and research institutions. UQ’s reputation for excellence is reinforced by major international university ranking indices Top 50 – QS World University Rankings 2015-16

• multi-million dollar laboratories and research centres

Top 100 – Times Higher Education World University Rankings 2015-2016

• one of the country’s largest academic libraries, with 1.25 million ebook titles, more than 823,000 print book titles, 140,000 online journals and more than 900 online databases.

Top 100 – Academic Ranking of World Universities 2015

Unrivalled support

Research commercialisation

• Support for RHD students through the Career Development Framework, which provides directed, experiential learning to help you connect with industry and work towards your research and professional goals

• UQ’s primary commercialisation company, UniQuest, delivers commercialisation outcomes that create impact for UQ and provide solutions for commercial, environmental and social benefit

• Social functions, professional development, and cross-disciplinary collaboration events • Student Services, which provides advice on careers and graduate employment; helps students find accommodation; offers disability support, international student support and student counselling; and runs a series of free academic, research and personal development workshops.

Top 50 – Performance Ranking of Scientific Papers for World Universities 2015

• UQ offers free research commercialisation workshops to research candidates

Outstanding alumni network • UQ students are connected to world leaders through global, national and local partnerships • The University’s outstanding 230,000+ alumni include a Nobel laureate, the CEO of a Fortune 500 company, an Academy Award winner, and leaders in government, law, science, public service and the arts.

LIVING IN BRISBANE 2.1M population of Brisbane

Lonely Planet named it

‘Australia’s hippest city’

UQ’s campuses are located in and around Brisbane, the capital of Queensland, known as the ‘Sunshine State’. Young, vibrant and entrepreneurial, Brisbane is fast becoming an economic hub in the Asia-Pacific for business, investment, major events and education. With a strong economy and record of growth and stability, the city’s diverse population and ever-growing infrastructure contribute to the reason our students graduate with the knowledge, attitude and experience needed to succeed both within Australia and on the world stage. Add a beautiful climate, an exciting blend of food, art and culture, and easy access to golden beaches, subtropical rainforests and coastal mountain ranges —there’s always plenty to discover.


300+ days of sunshine

per year

Brisbane Marketing

University of Queensland (UQ)


ABOUT IMB The University of Queensland’s Institute for Molecular Bioscience (IMB) is one of Asia-Pacific’s leading life sciences research institutes. Established in 2000, IMB is a multidisciplinary research institute committed to improving quality of life through leading discovery science and research translation. Our vision is to be a global leader in the discovery and application of molecular life sciences research. Our researchers discover the fundamental mechanisms of biology and human disease and translate these findings into new drugs and diagnostics for global health, and improved products and processes for industry and the environment. IMB researchers work in partnership with their academic, industry and clinical colleagues around the world to advance knowledge in areas including pain, rare diseases, inflammation, superbug infections, cancer, diabetes and obesity, heart and cardiovascular diseases, agriculture and clean energy.



Chemistry and Structural Biology (CSB)

IMB Centre for Inflammation and Disease Research

IMB’s Chemistry and Structural Biology division conducts pure, strategic and applied research in organic, medicinal and biological chemistry, structural biology, biochemistry, pharmacology, virology, bacteriology, immunology and biotechnology. IMB scientists discover new compounds, investigate the molecular basis of physiology and disease, and develop new approaches and treatments to improve health.

Genomics of Development and Disease (GDD) IMB’s Genomics of Development and Disease division generates important insights into gene structure, function, regulation and interaction. Our scientists use genomic approaches including whole genome sequencing, transcriptomics and genome editing of organisms and stem cells, to gain a deeper understanding of embryonic development and inherited disease. IMB scientists have the capacity to not only link a novel genetic mutation with a disease state, but to determine the functional importance of genomic variation and investigate how this disease state might be treated on an individual level and at a broader population level.

Cell Biology and Molecular Medicine (CBMM) IMB’s Cell Biology and Molecular Medicine division seeks to understand the molecular workings of the cell, the building blocks of our bodies. This is vital for a full understanding of how our bodies function, and serves as a foundation to investigate the cellular basis of disease. IMB scientists are tackling key issues in cell biology, investigating the mechanisms responsible for how cells develop, function, move and interact with one another.

Our centre brings together basic research with drug discovery and development. We aim to understand inflammation at the cellular and molecular levels, and devise strategies for controlling inflammation to prevent or treat disease.

IMB Centre for Pain Research Our vision is to discover and develop new molecules for treating chronic and severe pain in humans. Our researchers use advanced technologies to accelerate discovery and optimisation of analgesic small molecules, peptides and natural products.

IMB Centre for Rare Diseases Research Rare diseases are debilitating and lifethreatening disorders that can affect any organ system in the body and frequently affect more than one. Our centre aims to identify, confirm and understand the causes of rare diseases with the aim of finding new treatments.

IMB Centre for Superbug Solutions Our centre aims to help doctors accurately diagnose and treat multidrug-resistant bacterial infections. We are working with clinicians, chemists, microbiologists and pharmacists to help our community stop superbugs in their tracks before it’s too late.

UQ Centre for Cardiac & Vascular Biology This centre aims to understand the genetic and cellular regulation of heart and vascular formation in development, regeneration and disease. This centre is a partnership between IMB, the Australian Institute for Bioengineering and Nanotechnology, the School of Biomedical Sciences and the School of Pharmacy at UQ.

Breakthrough science programs • Biomembrane design • Algal biomedicines • Mechanobiology


During my time at IMB I was able to learn a wide variety of techniques and pick up skills that will be vital to my future career in scientific research. Having great supervisors helped me to develop a better understanding of how research works and how collaboration and cooperation are the keys to success. I was very comfortable conducting research even as an undergraduate student, and the people in the lab were friendly and helpful. With state-ofthe-art facilities and administration, everything and everyone at IMB aims to enhance the quality of research that is conducted here. Working on a summer project at IMB has helped me to grow as a scientist and I look forward to more work here! Bryan Tay, Singaporean UQ undergraduate student, Chemistry and Structural Biology Division


RESEARCH SUPPORT FACILITIES IMB scientists have on-site access to a range of leading technologies and facilities, allowing them to conduct faster, more comprehensive research. ACRF Cancer Biology Imaging Facility and ACRF Dynamic Imaging Facility The Australian Cancer Research Foundation’s (ACRF) Cancer Biology Imaging Facility is one of the largest and most comprehensively equipped facilities in Australia for imaging and screening chemical and biological libraries. It is home to 23 highperformance microscopes and provides onsite expert technical support and training. It complements and extends the work of the ACRF Dynamic Imaging Facility, which was established in 2005.

IMB Sequencing Facility

Mass Spectrometry Facility

The IMB Sequencing Facility (ISF) provides sequencing services to IMB, UQ and the research community in the greater Brisbane region. The ISF provides services on Illumina’s NextSeq 500 and the MiSeq sequencing platforms. The facility offers sample preparation for sequencing of RNA from any species, whole exome sequencing for human DNA and whole genome sequencing for non-human species.

IMB’s Mass Spectrometry Facility (MSF) provides researchers with state-of-the-art mass spectrometry, high-performance liquid chromatography and robotic instrumentation. The MSF provides technical advice and research and training support in a number of mass spectrometric applications, including investigating protein interactions and structures, amino acid sequence determination, post-translational modification discovery and quantification, compound stability, and bioavailability of potential therapeutics in a range of biological systems. genomic-sequencing-facility



2015 IMB had

$ 52M total income

$29M competitive grants


scientific publications including 44 with an impact factor > 10

298 global collaborations across

6 continents

35 patent families managed

* Statistics are accurate as at May 2016 and monetary amounts are in Australian dollars.


Biomolecular Nuclear Magnetic Resonance Facility IMB’s Biomolecular Nuclear Magnetic Resonance (NMR) Facility makes the powerful technique of NMR spectrometry accessible to our research and industry clients. The facility comprises a 600 MHz spectrometer with a cryoprobe and autosampler, and a 500 MHz spectrometer, equipped with a robotic sample changer. In addition to the Institute’s extensive NMR infrastructure, IMB researchers also have access to Australia’s most powerful NMR spectrometer, a 900 MHz spectrometer equipped with a cryoprobe and sample changer. This instrument is located within IMB and is a spectrometer of the Queensland NMR Network.

QFAB Bioinformatics QFAB Bioinformatics (QFAB) provides rapid, flexible and customised bioinformatics and biostatistics services to life sciences and clinical researchers. Working closely with researchers, QFAB team members apply data management, integration, analysis and visualisation techniques to unlock the full value of largescale biological and clinical datasets.

UQ Remote Operation Crystallisation and X-ray Diffraction Facility (UQROCX) This facility provides research training and support for protein structure determination. The diffraction facility houses Queensland’s brightest research X-ray source and the state’s only robotic crystallographic sample storage and retrieval system. The crystallisation facility is fully equipped for screening membrane proteins and for fragment screening.

Solar Biofuels Research Centre

IMB’s Solar Biofuels Research Centre (SBRC) provides a research hub for industry and university partners skilled in biology, engineering and systems development. Located at Pinjarra Hills in Brisbane, the SBRC is home to a pilotscale test facility that develops microalgae systems for the production of food, fuel, biofuels, bioproducts and bioremediation.

Information Technology Department

IMB’s dedicated IT Department supports 33 individual research groups over three focused scientific divisions, in addition to support staff. The department supports Macintosh, Windows and Linux environments and provides in-house data centre hosting, website development and hosting, database design and hosting, and auditorium and conference support.


IMB researchers play an active role within the scientific and medical research communities in Australia and abroad. Their contributions keep the institute at the forefront of scientific advancement, sharing our progress on the global stage and welcoming new opportunities to collaborate with expert colleagues around the world.



researchers, support staff and students


active research students from



STUDENT COMMUNITY The Students of IMB Association (SIMBA) is IMB’s official student representative body. Run by students, for students, SIMBA aims to encourage a cohesive student body to make the IMB postgraduate experience friendly, enjoyable and valuable for every student. To do this, SIMBA regularly coordinates professional learning, networking, peer support and social events within IMB and beyond to encourage student and staff interaction and collaboration. SIMBA’s elected committee actively engages with IMB’s leadership team to advocate for students and ensure their voices are heard in discussions regarding the running of the graduate program and other institute initiatives. IMB students are encouraged to get involved in SIMBA and can find out more about the association at: Another opportunity for students to connect is through IMB’s Science Ambassadors Program. IMB Science Ambassadors are early-career researchers who represent the institute on a voluntary basis at university open days, host community tours of the institute and inspire high school students to consider a career in research. IMB Science Ambassadors are passionate about science and receive media and public speaking training to give them the skills they need to take their science to the world.



research groups

70 %

international students

* Statistics are accurate as at May 2016 and monetary amounts are in Australian dollars.


SIMBA executive committee

RESEARCH PROGRAMS, ADMISSION AND SCHOLARSHIPS TRAINEESHIPS IMB welcomes both undergraduate and postgraduate coursework students to undertake several types of research placement during their programs. We offer projects for any of the research modules available in your program, or simply for research experience. These include but are not limited to the following.

3. Research undertaken to gain experience in a particular area (not for credit) (a) IMB Undergraduate Research Scheme – provides research experience (8 hrs per week during the semester) in the research group of your choice and includes a small stipend

1. Research undertaken for credit as part of a coursework degree at UQ

(b) IMB Summer Research Scheme – similar to UQ Summer Research Program. Available to UQ and external students

(a) Introduction to Research

(c) IMB Winter Research Scheme – similar to UQ Winter Research Program. Available to UQ and external students

(b) ASPinS (c) UQ Summer Research Program (d) UQ Winter Research Program (e) 2, 4, 8 and 16 unit research projects as part of a coursework masters program (f) Research within the Doctor of Medicine (MD) research-your-medical-degree

2. Research undertaken for credit at an international university (internship/occupational traineeship) Occupational traineeships are typically taken up by overseas students looking for 3-6 months work experience in an IMB research laboratory to take part in structured workplace-based training to enhance their skills in their current occupation, area of tertiary study, or field of expertise. IMB regularly sponsors occupational trainees from Europe, North America and many other countries.

(d) IMB-Kazakhstan Summer Research Scheme

IMB Director’s Award for Research Traineeship (DART) The IMB Director’s Award for Research Traineeship (DART) recognises and rewards research excellence in domestic and international IMB trainees. Eligibility Criteria To be eligible for a DART, recipients must • be enrolled in an undergraduate or postgraduate coursework degree • complete an IMB research traineeship • demonstrate research excellence during their traineeship • be nominated by a supervising IMB group leader.

(e) IMB Volunteer Research – provides research experience in the lab of your choice.


• receive a DART certificate and name badge

Scholarships Available to undertake research as a trainee at IMB UQ offers competitive scholarships to UQ students (undergraduate and coursework masters) to complete the UQ Summer or Winter Research Program. IMB offers competitive scholarships for IMB research schemes. Apply at

Acknowledgement of excellence in research performance for IMB trainees Any student completing one of the traineeships listed above is eligible to be nominated by their supervisor for a Director’s Award for Research Training (DART).

DART recipients will • have their award acknowledged in IMB publications • receive regular updates on IMB achievements and events • receive invitations to special IMB lectures and events • be encouraged to join IMB as a postgraduate researcher. Selection Process The IMB Director, in consultation with the IMB Director of Postgraduate Studies and IMB Postgraduate Office, will adjudicate on all DART nominations. All awardees and nominating IMB group leaders will be notified, and will be invited to an award ceremony. Status Levels DART awards are offered at silver, gold and platinum levels. SILVER DART – The awardee must complete an IMB traineeship and meet the eligibility criteria. GOLD DART – The awardee must hold a Silver DART, complete a second IMB traineeship and meet the eligibility criteria. PLATINUM DART – The awardee must hold a Gold DART, complete a third IMB traineeship and meet the eligibility criteria.


I thoroughly enjoyed my time at IMB as an honours student. The facilities are fantastic, and the quality of research undertaken here is inspiring, particularly for myself at the beginning of my research career. To be able to work in such an environment with so many helpful and intelligent individuals has been immensely beneficial. My time here has provided me with practical knowledge and essential skills, including independence, time management, critical thinking and problem solving. I am thankful for the experience. Meg Bongers, Australian IMB Honours Student 2015, Chemistry and Structural Biology Division


HONOURS PROGRAM An honours year provides students with the opportunity to pursue an independent research project in an area of personal interest, under the guidance of an experienced academic staff member.

What assessment is required?

How do I apply?

The assessment varies depending on the program in which you are enrolled. One of the main components of assessment is the research project, which you will undertake at IMB. Please visit your program webpage via

Step 1: Familiarise yourself with the research at IMB and identify the groups where you perceive a strong match with your research interests.

Honours is the most effective way to qualify for research higher degree (RHD) programs at the levels of Master of Philosophy (MPhil) and Doctor of Philosophy (PhD). It is also increasingly seen as an important qualification for future employment both within and beyond the research community. The skills gained from an honours year have lifelong value, and include problem solving, critical thinking, communication and time management.

The indicative tuition fee for domestic students in 2016 varies between A$8,594 and A$8,969 depending on the program and/or the major in which the student is enrolled.

If you have a passion for research and an inquiring mind, you will enjoy the freedom and intellectual challenge of undertaking a project with one of our research groups. This is what research science is all about!

How long does it take? • Bachelor of Science (Hons) – one year full-time • Bachelor of Health Sciences (Hons) – one year full-time • Bachelor of Biotechnology – Honours is a modified program of study in year 4, with entry based on grade point average • Bachelor of Biomedical Science – Honours is a modified program of study in year 4, with entry based on grade point average • Bachelor of Pharmacy (Hons) – Honours is a Clinical and Experimental Therapeutics major in a program of study, which is available in year 4 with entry based on grade point average.

How much does it cost?

The indicative tuition fee for international students in 2017 varies between A$32,112 and A$39,376 depending on the program and/or the major in which the student is enrolled. For full cost details for your program, visit Honours scholarships are available. For details, visit

Am I eligible? IMB offers honours placements within our laboratories but you must enrol for the honours program through the relevant school within the faculty that manages your undergraduate program. Relevant schools include the School of Chemistry and Molecular Biosciences and the School of Biological Sciences within UQ’s Faculty of Science, and the School of Biomedical Sciences within UQ’s Faculty of Medicine and Biomedical Sciences. We also welcome students from other UQ schools and faculties if their research fits within IMB’s research priorities. To be eligible for honours at IMB, students must meet the entry requirements of the enrolling school. Please contact the relevant school for further details.

Step 2: Contact a potential supervisor by email or phone, or attend an upcoming IMB information session. When contacting your potential supervisor, ask for an opportunity to meet in person to discuss your research intentions and the opportunities available. It is a good idea to speak with several potential supervisors before making a decision. Honours is a year-long, full-time commitment, so give it plenty of careful consideration. Also remember that potential supervisors will be interviewing you to look at your suitability for their laboratory. You may not be offered your first choice, so it’s a good idea to have one or two additional options ready. Step 3: Once you have arranged your project with your supervisor, discuss the UQ school through which you should enrol. Once determined, make contact with the school to obtain the relevant documentation. Step 4: The final step is to provide copies of your enrolment to IMB’s Postgraduate Office.

Is this different for international students? International students who are joining UQ for the first time for honours should apply for entry through UQ International at You must also lodge an honours application with the enrolling school. Likewise, current UQ international students who do not have the honours year built into their program must apply through UQ International, in addition to lodging their application with the enrolling school. International student fees apply. More information can be found at Information about UQ for international students, including the study environment, links to estimated living cost, refund policies, support services, information for students with families, and your legal rights as an international student can be found at


RESEARCH HIGHER DEGREE PROGRAMS Research higher degree (RHD) programs at UQ include the Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) and the Master of Philosophy (MPhil). Most PhD and MPhil candidates undertake a research degree because they are driven by the desire to advance their career opportunities or satisfy their intellectual curiosity. Graduates from RHD programs typically enjoy academic or research careers or a broad range of professional and leadership roles within industry and government. As well as vocational benefits, completing an RHD positions you as an innovator and provides opportunities to travel and network. The aim of an RHD is to foster the development of independent research skills. These skills include the capacity to formulate a significant research question, master appropriate conceptual and methodological skills, and relate the research topic to a broader framework of knowledge in a relevant disciplinary area. Beyond becoming an expert in your chosen field, an RHD also fosters your skills in leadership, communication, critical thinking and teamwork.

Why choose IMB for an RHD? As an IMB postgraduate student, you will benefit from • supervision by internationally acclaimed researchers • hands-on access to world-class scientific infrastructure • excellent office and laboratory facilities • a dedicated personal computer equipped and maintained with the latest software • online access to leading scientific journals and databases • a dedicated IMB Postgraduate Award fund to provide stipends for selected domestic and international applicants • a dedicated IMB Travel Award fund to support participation in scientific conferences and research training placements • a dedicated IMB Writing Up Award fund to support you to submit your thesis in a timely fashion • a multidisciplinary research environment that encourages collaboration and networking, to drive imaginative and innovative science • a program of scientific seminars featuring internationally acclaimed scientists and cutting-edge science • an active IMB student body, Students of IMB Association (SIMBA)


• a program of specialist training (IMB Advantage) in the commercialisation and communication (writing, speaking, reporting) of science

All applicants must also satisfy UQ requirements for English language proficiency.

• the IMB Science Ambassadors Program

For more details, visit graduate-school.

• a tertiary qualification from UQ, one of Australia’s leading research-intensive universities.

English language requirements

How long does it take? A PhD at IMB usually takes between 3.5 and 4 years full-time to complete. An MPhil usually takes between 1.5 to 2 years fulltime to complete. There is no mandatory coursework for RHDs and you will start your project as soon as you commence study. As part of the IMB Advantage program, IMB offers a number of professional development workshops during the year. These workshops aim to help you expand your knowledge and skill sets, adding value to your learning.

What assessment is required? All RHD students must meet UQ’s academic assessment requirements as per the program guidelines, via the milestone process. For further information, visit PhD students are required to produce a thesis of no more than 80,000 words, with the research representing a significant new contribution to the discipline. MPhil students are required to produce a thesis of no more than 40,000 words that demonstrates their capacity for critical analysis and application of specialist knowledge.

How much does it cost?

Students from non-English speaking backgrounds must complete either an International English Language Testing System (IELTS), internet-based or paper-based Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL), or another acceptable equivalent test, and achieve the required score (see table adjacent) to automatically meet UQ’s English language requirements*. In some cases, where it can be verified that the student has functioned to a high level in an environment where English is the primary language, English language requirements may be satisfied, but this occurs on a case-by-case basis at the discretion of a committee. Note that test results are valid for two years from the date of the test, and must be valid upon commencement at UQ. For a full list of requirements, visit *For commencement in 2017

Scholarships As the majority of students who apply for a PhD or MPhil are looking for scholarships to cover tuition fees and living expenses, it is very important to note the difference between being eligible for the program and competitive for a scholarship. To be competitive for a scholarship, students would normally have

Domestic students (including Australian citizens or permanent residents and New Zealand citizens) are currently exempt from paying tuition fees for an RHD.

• excellent academic grades in relevant subjects

International students will be required to pay the full-time tuition fee of A$35,520 per year in 2017, or obtain a scholarship to cover tuition fees.

• superb references from highly qualified and experienced referees.

For full cost details visit

• authorship on publications in peerreviewed scientific journals or patents

For other fees and expenses to be considered, please see the UQ Graduate School website

Am I eligible? All PhD and MPhil applicants (domestic and international) must satisfy all academic requirements (including a sufficient duration of relevant research experience) for acceptance into UQ’s RHD programs.

• highly relevant research training experience

To be highly competitive for a scholarship, students would also normally have

• authorship on scientific posters at scientific conferences • achievement awards and/or prizes. For UQ scholarships, see grad-school/scholarships-and-fees For IMB scholarships, see



Minimum additional scores

IELTS (International English Language Testing Service)


6.0 in every sub-band (academic module)

TOEFL (Paper-based Test of English as a Foreign Language)


5.0 in TWE (written), and 54 in reading and listening

TOEFL (Internet-based Test of English as a Foreign Language)


21 in written, 19 in reading, listening and speaking

*Note that these requirements are valid at the time of publication.


Start date of Quarter

Due date for payment

Census date / final date

End date of quarter


1 January

15 January

1 February

31 March


1 April

15 April

1 May

30 June


1 July

15 July

1 August

30 September


1 October

15 October

1 November

31 December

RHD students must commence at UQ within the first two weeks of a research quarter.

Scholarship Rounds You can apply at any time for admission to research higher degree programs. However, candidates who wish to be considered for a UQ Graduate School tuition fee and/or living allowance scholarship should note that the RHD Scholarship Selection Committee meets twice a year to select the recipients. For the timing of these rounds, see


HOW TO APPLY FOR AN MPHIL OR PHD A research higher degree is a big commitment, so make sure you take the time to choose the right opportunity for you. Below is a brief outline of the application process, but a more detailed outline can be found at Step 1: Read this guide and visit to identify IMB group leaders (your future supervisors) whose research best matches your interests. Step 2: Contact your preferred supervisors by email, including an academic CV detailing a brief summary of your academic qualifications, your research experience, publications, prizes and other relevant qualifications. Be sure to provide a strong indication of your research interest and whether you hope to undertake PhD or MPhil study. Step 3: If your potential supervisor perceives a strong research match, they may request more information via an IMB Expression of Interest (EOI) and will contact your referees. If the process continues further, the potential supervisor will interview you face-to-face, by Skype or by telephone, to discuss potential projects, assess your understanding of the research area and determine your ability to articulate your ideas. Step 4: Once your supervisor has confirmed their willingness to supervise you, they will work with you to complete the IMB Postgraduate Research Proposal form. Step 5: IMB’s Postgraduate Office will contact you to finalise your application, outlining the process for provision of referee reports. You will be instructed to lodge a UQ Graduate School online application. If your application meets all academic requirements of the program, and you can demonstrate that you meet English language requirements, IMB will complete the School Recommendation form and lodge your application with the UQ Graduate School by the deadline for the next UQ scholarship round. Step 6: The UQ Graduate School will notify you directly of the outcome of your application. Step 7: We look forward to seeing you start in the lab!


IMB is a great place to be a student with a range of professional development opportunities available, a collegial lab environment, and an active students association. I have also been fortunate to enjoy generous scholarship funding, receiving the 2015 IMB Research Advancement Award. Emma Livingstone PhD student and 2015 IMB Research Advancement Award winner

IMB RESEARCH ADVANCEMENT AWARD (IMBRAA) Let our research leaders help you reach your scientific potential. IMBRAA is a A$30,000 top-up scholarship to help kickstart your research career. Applications are sought from talented domestic students who demonstrate • excellence in academic achievement • a capacity and passion for research • independence and leadership potential • ability to communicate your love of science.

Value Award recipients will receive a A$30,000 career enrichment award, payable in annual installments of A$10,000. Ongoing receipt of the award is subject to sustained high levels of performance.

Am I eligible? You are eligible to apply if you are a domestic student intending to undertake full-time PhD studies at IMB. You must also secure an Australian Postgraduate Award or equivalent external award to support your studies.

How do I apply? For information on deadlines and the application process, please visit


My three and a half years at IMB were highly productive and enabled me to see the world, speak with scientific leaders around the globe and push beyond any of my own expectations. The foundation to success requires an environment that believes in you and your talent, and challenges you to go beyond what’s expected. I was lucky enough to find this environment at IMB. Dr Fabian Kurth, German IMB alumnus and Business Strategy Consultant at Accenture, Life Science Strategy

IMB POSTGRADUATE AWARD (IMBPA) The IMBPA is a scholarship that provides a living allowance for domestic and international students, but does not cover the tuition fees for international students. International students wishing to apply must have some means of covering fees or request nomination for an additional fee scholarship, such as the UQ International Scholarship.

Value The IMB Postgraduate Award is equivalent to an Australian Postgraduate Award (APA), which was A$26,288 per annum in 2016 (indexed annually).

Duration Three years with the possibility of an extension of up to six months. Closing date for applications The IMBPA rounds are aligned with the UQ scholarship deadlines; see the UQ Graduate School deadlines at

How do I apply? Your Application for Admission and Scholarship for a UQ RHD program will be used as your application for this award. No further documentation will be required. Please note, you must be enrolled, or intend to enrol, in a PhD or MPhil at IMB as a full-time student. The primary criteria for being awarded one of these scholarships is merit, determined by academic track record and research performance relative to opportunity.



Cell Biology and Molecular Medicine Division Important Information More information about UQ for students, including the study environment, links to estimated living costs, refund policies, support services, information for students with families, and your legal rights can be found at UQ Policies and Procedures in relation to RHD students can be found at UQ Policies and Procedures in relation to UQ students’ rights and responsibilities, including student grievance resolution and the appeal process can be found at While care has been taken to provide accurate information in this brochure, it is the responsibility of students to check and confirm specific details. CRICOS Provider Number 00025B 24

Supervisor Directory Interested applicants are encouraged to contact their preferred supervisors directly on the details provided. Name


Phone (+61 7)

Quick index by research area

Professor Kirill Alexandrov

3346 2017

Synthetic biology; protein engineering; molecular diagnostics

Associate Professor Brett Collins

3346 2043

Intercellular protein transport; chronic diseases

Professor George Muscat

3346 2039

Obesity and diabetes; cancer; nuclear hormone receptors

Professor Rob Parton

3346 2032

Membrane microdomains; cancer and chronic diseases

Dr Kate Schroder

3346 2058

Chronic and infectious diseases; inflammation and immunity

Professor Jenny Stow

3346 2110

Protein trafficking; inflammation and infection; cell biology; cancer biology

Associate Professor Matt Sweet

3346 2082

Inflammation and immunity; infectious diseases

Associate Professor Rohan Teasdale

3346 2056

Cell biology – protein trafficking; infectious diseases; neurodegeneration

Professor Alpha Yap

3346 2013

Cell-cell adhesion; morphogenesis; cancer and cancer biology

Supervisor Profiles Research title: Molecular engineering: better tools, better science, better life Summary of research interests: The exponential increase in the number of sequenced genomes has focused attention on how best to produce, study and modify the encoded gene products. Accessing the information encoded in proteins is technically and economically challenging. This constitutes a critical technological bottleneck that determines the pace of progress in many areas of biology and biotechnology.

Professor Kirill Alexandrov +61 7 3346 2017

We are working on the approaches that allow rapid and flexible production, analysis and engineering of proteins and protein complexes. By integrating cell-free protein production, microfluidic handling and single molecule fluorescence spectroscopy, we develop new processes for understanding complex molecular machines such as tethering complexes and transcription regulating complexes. Further, we use the developed technologies for construction of novel biological modules and cascades. Traineeships, honours and PhD projects include • Development of approaches for recombinant production and biophysical analysis of multi-subunit protein complexes • Quantitative analysis of protein-protein and protein-small molecule interactions using a novel in vitro translation system • Development of high-yield eukaryotic protein expression systems based on protozoan (Leishmania tarentolae) • Development of synthetic protein receptors and signal amplification cascades, and point-of-care diagnostic devices.

Research title: Membrane trafficking at atomic resolution Summary of research interests: Our group studies the process of membrane trafficking in the human cell. This is fundamental for normal physiology, and is important in neurodegenerative diseases including Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s. Our goal is to determine the molecular basis of how ‘protein coats’ bind to receptors such as the amyloid precursor protein involved in Alzheimer’s and control their packaging into membrane-bound vesicles. We use a wide variety of techniques including molecular biology, protein X-ray crystallography, biochemical and biophysical studies of protein-protein and protein-lipid interactions, and cellular studies of protein localisation to build coherent molecular models of how molecules are trafficked within the cell. Traineeships, honours and PhD projects include

Associate Professor Brett Collins +61 7 3346 2043


• Molecular basis for the function of the retromer protein complex, and implications for neurodegenerative diseases. • Determining the role of ‘sorting nexin’ proteins in controlling the homeostasis of receptors in neurons. • Discovery of small molecules that modulate the assembly of protein trafficking coats. • Structural studies of proteins that form membrane structures called caveolae.

Research title: Nuclear receptors and metabolism Summary of research interests: Our research focuses on elucidating the functional role of nuclear hormone receptors (NRs) in the regulation of metabolism in the context of metabolic disease (e.g. diabetes and obesity) and breast cancer. NRs belong to a superfamily of hormone-dependent DNA binding factors that translate pathophysiological, metabolic, and nutritional signals into gene regulation. Dysfunctional NR signalling results in obesity, type 2 diabetes and cancer. The significance of NRs in human health is emphasised by the array of prescription pharmaceuticals that target NRs in the context of reproduction, inflammation, cancer and metabolic and endocrine diseases.

Professor George Muscat

Our current research aims to examine the role of NRs and epigenetic NR coregulators in metabolic disease and breast cancer. We are testing the hypothesis that the orphan NRs, for example RORs and NR4As, control the pathophysiological process in metabolic disease and cancer.

+61 7 3346 2039

Traineeships, honours and PhD projects include

• Understanding the role of the NR4A and ROR subgroup in breast cancer survival outcomes

• Elucidating the role of RORα and RORγ in the resistance to diet-induced obesity and fatty liver disease. • Analysing the role of epigenetic regulators (histone methyltransferases) in (i) glycaemic control and (ii) breast cancer clinical outcomes.

Research title: The cell surface in health and disease

Professor Rob Parton +61 7 3346 2032

Summary of research interests: The plasma membrane that envelops each mammalian cell plays a crucial role in detecting signals for growth or in taking nutrients into the cell. At the same time the plasma membrane protects the cell against unwanted invaders. Many human disease conditions, including cancer and muscular dystrophy, are caused by dysfunction of the plasma membrane. Our research focuses on the organisation, dynamics, and functions of this crucial structure. We use a wide range of techniques, including advanced 3D electron microscopy and real-time light microscopy together with animal models of human disease to gain insights into plasma membrane dynamics and domain organisation. We have particularly focused on surface domains termed caveolae that are linked to signal transduction, endocytosis, and lipid regulation to understand their role in healthy cells and their aberrant function in disease. Traineeships, honours and PhD projects include • Zebrafish as a model to understand human muscle diseases • Structure and function of a new family of caveolar coat proteins • Novel pathways of endocytosis in cultured cells and in tissues • Bioengineering of novel nanovesicles for drug delivery.

Research title: Inflammasomes in infection and inflammatory disease Summary of research interests: The innate immune system is critical to defence against infection, but also drives unhealthy processes in inflammatory disease. An important emerging player in innate immunity is the ‘inflammasome’ pathway. Inflammasomes are molecular machines that trigger cytokine maturation and immune system activation in response to signals indicating cellular ‘danger’. While the inflammasome pathway is critical for host defence against infection, it is also a key driver of unhealthy inflammation in many human diseases. We use a wide variety of molecular and cell biology techniques, in conjunction with animal models and human clinical samples, to investigate the biology of inflammasomes in host defence and inflammatory disease at the molecular, cellular and organismal levels.

Dr Kate Schroder +61 7 3346 2058

Traineeships, honours and PhD projects include • Inflammasome activation mechanisms • Human-specific inflammasome and caspase pathways • Pathogenic inflammasome function in human diseases • Inflammasome inhibition by small molecule drugs and cellular pathways • Neutrophil inflammasome function during infection and disease.

Research title: Protein trafficking in inflammation and cancer Summary of research interests: My group studies how immune cells fight infection and cancer. In the immune system, macrophages are responsible for eating (phagocytosing) and killing bacteria and other pathogens. Macrophages also secrete cytokines that control inflammation – the process that fights infection but also underlies many diseases, including cancer. Identifying the genes, proteins, membrane domains and signalling pathways that control pathogen detection, phagocytosis and cytokine secretion is a main focus of our work. From this research we are identifying new uses for existing drugs and defining targets for developing new drugs to treat infection, cancer and inflammatory diseases. Traineeships, honours and PhD projects include • Phagocytosis of bacteria in macrophages

Professor Jenny Stow +61 7 3346 2110


• Endocytic and secretory pathways in macrophages (the cell biology of infection control) • How is inflammation turned off through Toll-like receptor signalling? (preventing inflammatory damage and disease) • Kinase inhibitors in macrophages (new treatments for inflammation and cancer).

Research title: Pathogen surveillance, innate immunity and inflammation Summary of research interests: Innate immune cells, such as macrophages, express a broad repertoire of pattern recognition receptors that act as danger sensors. For example, members of the Toll-like receptor (TLR) family detect a number of pathogen-associated molecular patterns such as LPS from Gram-negative bacteria. Macrophage activation through TLRs regulates expression of genes involved in antimicrobial responses and inflammation. Thus, TLR signalling is required for effective control of invading microorganisms, but if dysregulated, contributes to acute and chronic inflammatory diseases. We study TLR signalling pathways and the function of novel TLR-regulated genes in inflammation and in responses to bacterial pathogens (e.g. Salmonella, uropathogenic E. coli). Traineeships, honours and PhD projects include

Associate Professor Matt Sweet +61 7 3346 2082

• TLR-regulated antimicrobial pathways in human macrophage responses to bacterial pathogens and subversion of these pathways by Salmonella • Interactions between uropathogenic E. coli and innate immunity • TLR signalling in epithelial cell-mediated inflammation and host defence • Roles of protein deacetylases in TLR-mediated inflammation • Functional analysis of novel TLR target genes • Roles of novel GPCRs in macrophage-mediated inflammation.

Research title: Endosomal dynamics and Neurodegeneration

Associate Professor Rohan Teasdale +61 7 3346 2056

Summary of research interests: The endosomal/lysosomal system of mammalian cells is a highly dynamic organelle and the trafficking pathways within the endosomal system are fundamental for a wide variety of key cellular processes. My research is focused on understanding how individual proteins are compartmentalised within the endosome/lysosomal system of the mammalian cell, and defining the protein machinery responsible for their organization and trafficking. Endosomes play a central role in the pathobiology of Parkinson’s disease (PD). In particular, we are interested in retromer, an endosome-associated protein complex, that is responsible for coordinating protein trafficking from the endosomal compartment. Recently, pathogenetic mutations within a retromer subunit, Vps35, have been directly associated with causing late onset PD. My current research activities continue to utilise new model cell systems and animal models to investigate the molecular cell biology of the retromer, and other endosomal proteins, and their contribution to neurodegenerative disease, receptor trafficking and regulated endocytosis. Traineeships, honours and PhD projects include • Defining the cellular machinery responsible for the sorting of membrane cargo within the mammalian endosome • Defining the molecular and cellular properties of retromer’s function in neurodegenerative diseases including Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s • Defining the transmembrane proteins whose intracellular trafficking is defective in Parkinson’s Disease.

Research title: Cadherin signalling and morphogenesis Summary of research interests: My group studies the morphogenetic mechanisms of cadherin adhesion molecules. These cell surface receptors are key determinants of tissue patterning during development and wound healing. Importantly, cadherin dysfunction is a major factor in common human diseases, such as tumour invasion and epithelial inflammation. We believe that understanding the cell and molecular mechanisms by which cadherins control normal tissue patterning will provide valuable insights into how cadherin dysfunction contributes to disease. A major focus of our work lies in understanding how cadherin signalling regulates the cytoskeleton, and the morphogenetic impact of these processes, especially through control of contractile forces at cell-cell junctions. We craft potential projects to the interests of students, guided by the momentum of projects that are established in the laboratory.

Professor Alpha Yap

Traineeships, honours and PhD projects include • Control of tissue tension by cadherin-cytoskeletal interactions

+61 7 3346 2013

• Cell-cell junctions and cell migration

• Regulation and dysregulation of junctional mechanics: impact for epithelial organisation and tumour invasion.


• Dynamic cytoskeletal organisation at cadherin junctions: its regulation in health and disease


Chemistry and Structural Biology Division Important Information More information about UQ for students, including the study environment, links to estimated living costs, refund policies, support services, information for students with families, and your legal rights can be found at UQ Policies and Procedures in relation to RHD students can be found at UQ Policies and Procedures in relation to UQ students’ rights and responsibilities, including student grievance resolution and the appeal process can be found at While care has been taken to provide accurate information in this brochure, it is the responsibility of students to check and confirm specific details. CRICOS Provider Number 00025B 28

Supervisor Directory Interested applicants are encouraged to contact their preferred supervisors directly on the details provided. Name


Phone (+61 7)

Quick index by research area

Professor Paul Alewood

3346 2982

Chronic pain and chronic diseases; cancer; drug discovery; chemical synthesis; proteomics

Professor Rob Capon

3346 2979

Biodiscovery and drug discovery; infectious diseases; cancer and pain; chemical ecology

Professor Matt Cooper

3346 2045

Infectious diseases; inflammation and immunity; drug discovery and diagnostics

Professor David Craik

3346 2019

Chronic pain; cancer; obesity; cardiovascular diseases; plant-based medicines

Professor David Fairlie

3346 2989

Cancer; immunity; inflammatory diseases; diabetes; obesity; pain; Alzheimer’s disease; drug discovery

Professor Ben Hankamer

3346 2012

Clean fuels; infectious diseases

Professor Glenn King

3346 2025

Pain, epilepsy, stroke, insecticides, drug discovery

Professor Richard Lewis

3346 2984

Chronic pain and chronic diseases; drug discovery; pharmacology

Dr Markus Muttenthaler

3346 2985

Oxytocin; vasopressin; breast cancer; venom peptides; drug discovery and development; peptide dendrimers

Dr Christina Schroeder

3346 2021

Chronic pain, drug design and peptide engineering, structural biology and biophysics, venom peptides, voltage-gated sodium channels

Associate Professor Mark Smythe

3346 2977

Chronic pain and chronic diseases; cancer; inflammation; drug discovery

Dr Irina Vetter

3346 2660

Chronic pain; pharmacology

Supervisor Profiles Research title: Venom peptides that target chronic pain Summary of research interests: Our research focuses on identifying bioactive molecules from Australia’s venomous animals that have the potential to create drugs that will play important roles in finding treatments for chronic pain, heart disease, inflammation, irritable bowel syndrome, and breast cancer. Although venom peptides (also called toxins) when delivered by an animal sting or bite can have a devastating effect, many are useful in treating human disease and the potential to expand this class of new drugs is huge. Specifically, we are interested in the discovery and total synthesis of potent and selective venom peptides from Australia’s venomous animals; the chemical synthesis of proteins and bioactive peptides; the development of new synthetic and analytical chemistry; and protein structure and function.

Professor Paul Alewood +61 7 3346 2982

Traineeships, honours and PhD projects include • Discovery and characterisation of new conotoxins that are likely to target human receptors involved in chronic pain • Determination of the structure-function relationships of natural and designed bioactive molecules including the discovery, isolation and characterisation of venom peptides from snakes, spiders, cone snails, platypus, ticks and scorpions, their role in human health and uncovering new pain pathways in chronic pain.

Research title: Biodiscovery: from biodiversity and biology, to bioactives and beyond Summary of research interests: My research group focuses on the discovery and use of novel bioactive natural products from Australian marine and terrestrial biodiversity. These metabolites span all known biosynthetic classes and include many molecules that are new to science. Our research makes use of a range of sophisticated chemical technologies, and extends into the fields of microbiology, cell biology, pharmacology and biochemistry, supported by an extensive network of collaborators. Natural products uncovered during our investigations represent valuable new leads in the search for drugs in the fields of human and animal health and crop protection. They also have potential application as molecular probes to better interrogate, understand and manage living systems. Traineeships, honours and PhD projects include

Professor Robert Capon +61 7 3346 2979


• Marine biodiscovery • Microbial biodiscovery • Drug discovery: infectious diseases, cancer and pain • Synthetic and medicinal chemistry • Cane toad chemical ecology.

Research title: Drug discovery and diagnostics Summary of research interests: We believe that we can more effectively treat people by improving the way we understand and diagnose disease. Our research is aimed at discovering new ways of diagnosing and treating viral and bacterial infections, as well as diseases associated with chronic inflammation such as asthma, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, type 2 diabetes and cancer. We have a major focus on the design and development of novel antibiotics active against drug-resistant bacteria, also known as ‘superbugs’. Traineeships, honours and PhD projects include • Antibacterial and antifungal medicinal chemistry

Professor Matt Cooper +61 7 3346 2045

• Small molecule inhibitors of inflammation • Antibiotic mode of action studies • Chemoinformatics, microbiology and nanotechnology for diagnostics.

Research title: NMR spectroscopy Summary of research interests: Our laboratory focuses on cyclic peptides which are small stable peptides that can be tailored for treating a range of diseases, including cardiovascular disease, chronic pain, cancer and Alzheimer’s disease. We investigate all aspects of cyclic peptides, including their discovery from plants, determining their structure using NMR spectroscopy, testing their activity, synthesising and re-engineering them to make them more active and also producing them in plant ‘biofactories’. Consequently, we have a diverse range of skills and expertise in our group, from fieldwork in the jungle to plant and structural biology, to chemistry, making it a fun and challenging environment. Traineeships, honours and PhD projects include

Professor David Craik +61 7 3346 2019

• Discovery and structural characterisation of medicinal plant proteins • Structure-activity studies of conotoxins • Design of novel anticancer agents • Protein engineering and drug design • Molecular biology and evolution of cyclotides.

Research title: Chemistry and human therapeutics Summary of research interests: Our group investigates molecular mechanisms of chemical reactions, biological processes, disease development and drug action. Understanding how molecules interact, how chemical and biological reactions work, and how structure influences activity enables us to design, synthesise and evaluate enzyme inhibitors, receptor antagonists and protein-binding ligands as new drugs for cancer, infectious diseases, inflammatory disorders, type 2 diabetes, obesity and Alzheimer’s disease. Chemists in our group discover new drugs. Pharmacologists, biochemists and cell biologists in our group study actions on human cells and in animal models of diseases. Traineeships, honours and PhD projects include

Professor David Fairlie +61 7 3346 2989

• Drug design and discovery (computer-assisted, structure, dynamics, virtual techniques) • Medicinal chemistry (organic synthesis, NMR structures, drug development) • Drug mechanisms of action (cell biology, signalling pathways, enzymology, GPCRs) • Pharmacology (rodent models of inflammatory diseases, metabolic diseases, type 2 diabetes, cancers, Alzheimer’s disease).

Research title: Algae-based solar-driven fuel and product production Summary of research interests: By 2050, globally we are forecast to require 70% more food (UN), 50% more fuel (IEA) and 50% more water (OECD). This will have to be achieved while reducing CO2 emissions by 50-80% (IPCC). Algae are positioned at the nexus of these challenges as they capture solar energy and CO2 and can utilise these to produce food, fuels and clean water. Algae production systems can be located on non-arable land, reducing food vs fuel pressures. Photosynthesis is the first step of algae production and cost-effective optimisation of light capture is essential. Our work includes parallel programs in biotechnological optimisation, techno-economic and life cycle analyses of these processes, and the structural biology of the photosynthetic machinery to enable efficiency improvements through model-guided design.

Professor Ben Hankamer +61 7 3346 2012

Traineeships, honours and PhD projects include • Optimising light capture efficiency: transcript and protein analysis of the light harvesting complex proteins • Optimising protein expression: dengue virus antigen expression in microalgae for vaccine development • Solar driven H2 production from water: optimising H2 production conditions • Membrane protein structure determination: purification and structural characterisation of the cyclic-electron flow – Photosystem I super complex using electron microscopy and high resolution single particle analysis • Microalgae process modelling: model-guided design of high-efficiency microalgae systems.


Research title: Bugs and drugs Summary of research interests: Animal venoms are increasingly being used in drug discovery efforts as they constitute a vast and largely untapped source of pharmacologically active molecules. Spiders are by far the most successful group of venomous animals and their venoms are predicted to contain more than 10 million different bioactive peptides. Our group is exploring spider venoms as a source of novel peptides to provide leads for the development of new drugs and insecticides. As a major part of this initiative, we have developed a discovery pipeline that allows venom peptide structures and structure-activity relationship data to be obtained at an unprecedented rate. Traineeships, honours and PhD projects include • Discovery and characterisation of venom peptides targeted at ion channels involved in sensing or transmission of pain

Professor Glenn King +61 7 3346 2025

• Discovery and characterisation of novel insecticidal and nematicidal compounds • Structural characterisation of the interaction between venom peptides and their ion channel targets • Examination of the genetic basis underlying the remarkable diversity and evolution of venom peptides.

Research title: Venoms to drugs Summary of research interests: My group focuses on the discovery and biochemical characterisation of venoms and marine toxins, especially the conotoxins produced by cone snails to rapidly immobilise their prey. These toxins modulate a variety of membrane proteins, including important drug targets like sodium and calcium channels, nicotinic acetylcholine receptors (nAChRs), monoamine transporters, and G-protein coupled receptors. Their high selectivity makes them important research tools and potential therapeutics. Through a multidisciplinary research program, including peptide and target molecular pharmacology, and integrated proteomics and transcriptomics, we continue to discover and develop the potential of these interesting molecules, particularly in the area of pain research. Traineeships, honours and PhD projects include

Professor Richard Lewis +61 7 3346 2984

• Discovery of novel analgesic venom peptides from cone snails • Integrated proteomics and transcriptomics to investigate the evolution and structure-function of cone snail venoms • Ultrastructural studies of the venom apparatus of cone snails • Mechanisms of venom peptide regulation in cone snails • Genomics studies of cone snails.

Research title: Exploring nature’s diversity for treatment/detection of disease Summary of research interests: We work at the interface of chemistry and biology with a strong passion for translational research. Our interests lie in the exploration of nature’s diversity to develop molecular tools, diagnostics and therapeutics. We use chemistry, molecular biology, and pharmacology to study the interactions of these highly potent and selective molecules with human physiology, with applications in neuropathic pain, cancer and CNS disorders. Traineeships, honours and PhD projects include • Study of the ‘love-drug’ oxytocin in autism and breast cancer • Discovery and characterisation of venom peptides

Dr Markus Muttenthaler (Alewood group) +61 7 3346 2985

• The use of innovative chemistry to develop better probes and drug candidates • Development of imaging probes • Peptide dendrimers. researcher/12444

Research title: Drug discovery and peptide engineering using venom peptides Summary of research interests: Our research focuses on bioactive molecules isolated from plants and the venom of snakes, spiders and cone snails, and we are actively pursuing these molecules in our quest to identify new drug leads for the treatment of chronic pain, inflammation, obesity and cancer. Specifically, we are interested in understanding how we can harness the natural drug-like properties of these bioactive molecules and use them as neuroscience tools to explore the interactions between the bioactive molecules and their targets in the human body. We investigate these interactions using sophisticated peptide engineering and a range of biophysical techniques including NMR spectroscopy and activity assays. By understanding these interactions in detail we will be able to create new and improved drugs with fewer side effects.

Dr Christina Schroeder (Craik Group) +61 7 3346 2021


Traineeships, honours and PhD projects include • Understanding of peptide-membrane interactions • Peptide engineering and drug design • Drug discovery of novel pain therapeutics • Design of orally bioavailable peptides.

Research title: Drug Discovery and Development Summary of research interests: We work on developing new drug candidates to treat diseases that have significant unmet medical need. This includes both applied research, the discovery and development of drug candidates at specific disease targets, and basic research, the development of new methods and tools to facilitate the drug discovery process. Research outcomes are typically commercialised in spin-out companies, with numerous discoveries successfully translated to the clinic and in late-stage preclinical development. We have strong linkages to clinicians and the pharmaceutical industry. Projects are offered in the disciplines of drug design, mathematics, chemistry and biology, as related to the development of drugs for specific therapeutic targets. Traineeships, honours and PhD projects include

Associate Professor Mark Smythe +61 7 3346 2977

• Optimisation of drug candidates for treatment of asthma • Optimisation of drug candidates for treatment of breast cancer • Synthesizing new chemical probes to unravel biological pathways • Expanding constrained peptide evolution strategies to facilitate drug discovery • Antibodies with teeth, a new therapeutic modality.

Research title: Neuropharmacology and pain contact Summary of research interests: Sensory neurons are fundamental for our interaction with the external world by detecting stimuli including cold, heat, touch, pressure, vibration and tissue injury. These external stimuli are then transformed to electrical signals through specialised molecules, which detect temperature, mechanical stimulation and various chemicals. Although significant progress has been made towards determining the molecular identity of selected receptors and ion channels involved in sensory perception, our understanding of how these contribute to sensory perception, and in particular pain, is limited. Toxins from plants and animal venoms have provided highly specific tools, which allow dissection of the mechanisms of sensory perception and pain and may provide novel molecules with analgesic potential.

Dr Irina Vetter +61 7 3346 2986


Traineeships, honours and PhD projects include • Fundamental basis of peripheral sensory perception • Identifying and characterising the effect of venoms and toxins on peripheral sensory neurons • Identifying, characterising and optimising molecules with therapeutic potential from natural sources including venoms • Understanding the pathophysiology of pain and optimising analgesic treatment approaches.


Genomics of Development and Disease Division Important Information More information about UQ for students, including the study environment, links to estimated living costs, refund policies, support services, information for students with families, and your legal rights can be found at UQ Policies and Procedures in relation to RHD students can be found at UQ Policies and Procedures in relation to UQ students’ rights and responsibilities, including student grievance resolution and the appeal process can be found at While care has been taken to provide accurate information in this brochure, it is the responsibility of students to check and confirm specific details. CRICOS Provider Number 00025B 33

Supervisor Directory Interested applicants are encouraged to contact their preferred supervisors directly on the details provided. Name


Phone (+61 7)

Quick index by research area

Dr Lachlan Coin

3346 2649

Human genomics, microbial genomics, cancer genomics, population genetics, infectious disease

Dr Mat Francois

3346 2494

Embryonic development – lymphatic vasculature; cancer

A/Professor Ben Hogan

3346 2105

Embryonic development – vasculature; cancer

Professor Peter Koopman

3346 2059

Embryonic development – gonads and sex determination; genetic disorders

Professor Grant Montgomery

3346 2054

Genetics and genomics in health and disease

Dr Nathan Palpant

3346 2064

Human pluripotent stem cells; genome engineering; bioengineering; cardiac and vascular directed differentiation

Dr Joseph Powell

3346 2611

Functional genomics; transcriptomics; RNA; sequencing; population genetics; medical genomics

Professor Mark Ragan

3346 2616

Genomics; cancer; infectious disease

Dr Cas Simons

3346 2080

Rare childhood diseases; leukodystrophies; personalised medicine; high-throughput genomics

Dr Kelly Smith

3346 2050

Embryonic development – heart; genetic and heritable diseases

Professor Brandon Wainwright

3346 2110

Cancer and cancer biology of skin and brain

Professor Peter Visscher

3346 6348

Forensic genomics; genomics and genetics of complex traits

Professor Naomi Wray

n.wray @

3346 6374

Genomics and genetics of common disorders of the brain

A/Professor Jian Yang

jian.yang @

3346 6393

Omics data analysis; human complex diseases

Supervisor Profiles Research title: Population genomics Summary of research interests: The initial sequencing of plant and animal genomes, including the human genome, accomplished approximately 10 years ago, has led to remarkable discoveries about the genomic relationships between species, and into evolutionary history and processes. We are now entering a population sequencing era in which thousands of genomes from these species are being sequenced. This data will enable us to map genomic variation within species, and assess the phenotypic impact of this variation. My group is particularly interested in mapping genomic structural variation, including copy number variation, repeat variation and balanced structural variation such as translocations and inversions. We are developing algorithms for mapping this variation from next-generation sequence data.

Dr Lachlan Coin +61 7 3346 2649

Traineeships, honours and PhD projects include • Algorithmic development, particularly for identification and genotyping of tandem repeats and inversions from low-coverage population sequence data • Mapping structural variation in multiple plant and animal genomes, including sheep, rice, and human data • Investigating population differentiation and positive selection of structural variation in humans.

Research title: The lymphatic vascular tree in development and disease Summary of research interests: We identify and characterise key transcriptional pathways that modulate lymphatic vascular development in the mouse embryo. We are interested in translating our discoveries in pre-clinical mouse models of cancer or lymphedema to validate the central role of developmental programs that are re-activated under these pathological conditions. Ultimately we aim to develop a novel class of compounds that will enable the pharmacological management of the lymphatics with the view to probing vascular development or setting up the basis for drug development. We use a pipeline of assays ranging from in vitro analysis (fluorescence polarisation, cell-based assays) to in vivo mouse models (melanoma xenograft), and collaborate with other IMB scientists and international research groups who are experts in zebrafish biology, medicinal chemistry and in vivo live imaging.

Dr Mat Francois

Traineeships, honours and PhD projects include • Analysis of the transcriptional network that governs lymphatic endothelial cell fate (mouse genetics)

+61 7 3346 2494

• Molecular characterisation of the embryonic pathways re-activated in lymphatics during cancer metastasis (pre-clinical models)

• Validation of novel molecular targets and assessment of their druggability to develop novel anti-cancer agents.


Research title: Vascular biology and development

Associate Professor Ben Hogan +61 7 3346 2105

Summary of research interests: My group studies the development of the embryonic vasculature with a focus on the discovery of novel genes involved in blood and lymphatic vessel development in the embryo. We are particularly interested in the development of lymphatic vessels, as the lymphatic vasculature plays critical roles in several human diseases and is a validated target for the inhibition of cancer metastasis. We study the processes of cell fate specification, precursor cell migration and the differentiation of vascular endothelial cells using the zebrafish embryo as a model system. The approaches we use include molecular genetics (mutant identification and characterisation, as well as the analysis of key genes of interest) and high-resolution in vivo imaging of the cellular processes driving the development of the vasculature in the embryo. Ultimately, we aim to elucidate molecular and cellular mechanisms that control vessel development and to understand how the pathways and processes we identify contribute to human disease. Traineeships, honours and PhD projects include • Analysis of key signalling pathways in lymphatic vascular development in zebrafish • Molecular and cellular characterisation of zebrafish mutants with defective vascular development • Genome editing with CRISPR and TALENs to characterise mechanisms of vascular development and disease.

Research title: Sex determination, gonadal development and disorders of sex development

Professor Peter Koopman +61 7 3346 2059

Summary of research interests: We discover genes involved in the development of cells, tissues and organs in the embryo, and study their activity, regulation, function and interaction, using mice as an experimental model. Much of our work centres on the genetic pathways that regulate sex determination and gonadal development. We use a number of gene discovery strategies to identify novel candidate genes, analyse expression of these genes during gonadal development to identify the cell type and temporal profile of expression, perform in vitro experiments to determine the molecular mechanisms of the encoded proteins and where they act in the sex-determining pathway, and perform functional analysis in vivo by overexpression in transgenic mice and/or CRISPR/Cas9 gene editing in mice. This work is applied to understanding, diagnosing and managing the molecular defects that can result in atypical sex development in humans, sometimes called intersex or disorders of sex development. Traineeships, honours and PhD projects include • Identification and functional study of sex-determining genes • Disorders of sex development.

Research title: Genetics and genomics in health and disease Summary of research interests: We use genetic approaches to discover critical genes and pathways increasing risk for complex diseases (including endometriosis, inflammatory bowel disease, and melanoma). Follow-up genomic studies aim to understand how these genetic differences regulate gene expression and epigenetics to alter disease risk. A major focus is women’s heath and the pathogenesis of endometriosis. We have identified genomic regions strongly associated with increased endometriosis risk and are analysing gene expression and methylation patterns in the endometrium to understand how these genetic variants contribute to increased disease risk. Endometriosis is associated with other reproductive traits and diseases including ovarian cancer and we also study the mechanisms of shared genetic risk.

Professor Grant Montgomery

Traineeships, honours and PhD projects include • Analysis of gene expression in the human endometrium

+61 7 3346 2054

• Analysis of genomic regions associated with endometriosis risk and other diseases

• Genetic control of methylation patterns in the endometrium and other tissues.

• Methylation patterns in the endometrium in health and disease

Research title: Mechanisms underlying cardiovascular cell lineage decisions Summary of research interests: In recent years, bioengineering and biotechnology approaches have emerged for studying complex developmental processes with high resolution and precision. Understanding how cell fate choices are controlled during development will help us delve into the basis of congenital and acquired cardiovascular diseases and enable us to make high purity cell types from stem cells that can be used for therapeutic applications. My lab aims to understand how cell fate choices are made during the early stages of cardiovascular development. We use human pluripotent stem cells coupled with advanced techniques in bioengineering, genome engineering and deep sequencing to dissect the molecular basis of lineage choices. Traineeships, honours and PhD projects include

Dr Nathan Palpant +61 7 3346 2054


• Use CRISPR/Cas9 genome engineering to study the genetic basis of cardiovascular lineage choices • Determine the genetic and epigenetic mechanisms underlying control of Wnt signaling during cardiovascular development • Identify and study novel small molecules that control lineage choices during differentiation from pluripotency.

Research title: Genomics of human disease

Dr Joseph Powell +61 7 3346 2611

Summary of research interests: The majority of genetic factors that affect an individual’s risk of disease act through the misregulation of genes. We focus on understanding researching how DNA sequence variants contribute to differences in gene regulation and ultimately lead to disease susceptibility. Our research engages sophisticated statistical methodology and high-performance computing to analyse high-throughput genetic and transcriptomic data from large cohorts of individuals. In particular, we focus on investigating differences in the genetic regulation of genes in different tissues and cell types, and whether this explains the tissue specific pathology of most diseases. We are also interested in using computational analysis to provide a flexible and efficient approach to better inform on the biological mechanisms underlying human disease, before collaborating with colleagues to design molecular genomics studies to determine the exact mechanisms. Traineeships, honours and PhD projects include • Genetic control of gene regulation across tissues • The mechanisms by which GWAS loci influence disease • Using genomic information to provide better diagnostic tools for clinicians • Analysis of single cell transcriptomic data.

Research title: Computational genomics Summary of research interests: We use advanced computing and bioinformatics to make quantitative inferences about how genomes, gene families, protein families and biomolecular networks evolve, diversify and function in mammalian cells and in bacteria, with emphasis on cancer and infectious disease respectively. Traineeships and honours projects include Projects addressing data analysis and/or computational inference for: • Gene exchange and genetic recombination in pathogenic bacteria • Gene exchange and genetic recombination across entire microbial ecosystems

Professor Mark Ragan +61 7 3346 2616

• Networks of molecular interactions in cancer • Protein interaction domains and the evolution of new cellular functions. Some project areas require expertise in scripting/coding e.g. in Python, Perl, Java, Matlab or R.

Research title: Genetic basis of disease in rare genetic disorders Summary of research interests: The primary theme of my research is to understand the genetic basis of disease in rare genetic disorders. Rare diseases are typically incurable, life-threatening and degenerative and together are believed to affect over 1.2 million Australians. Working with clinical collaborators from Australia and around the world, we use next-generation sequencing technologies to sequence the genomes or exomes of rare disease patients and their families. This requires the development of novel bioinformatic approaches to identify the disease-causing variants in each family. Once candidate variants have been identified, we attempt to functionally characterise the molecular basis of the disease using cell or animal models. Traineeships, honours and PhD projects include

Dr Cas Simons +61 7 3346 2080

• Identification of novel disease genes associated with inherited neurological diseases and the characterisation of those genes in animal models. researcher/1298

Research title: Genetics and cell biology of cardiac development

Dr Kelly Smith +61 7 3346 2050


Summary of research interests: The function of the heart is to distribute blood around the body. It does so with high efficiency and without mixing oxygenated and deoxygenated blood. This is achieved by forming an elaborate and exact structure comprising of distinct chambers, delicate valves and septa all assembled with precision to ensure correct alignment with the major vessels. Any defects that occur during the formation of these elements result in structural defects, collectively known as congenital heart defects. In order to repair such defects, we must first understand how the heart is formed. During development, the heart begins as a simple symmetrical field of cells that undergoes differentiation, cellular migration, cellular transitions (such as endoMT) and cell shape changes. Using the translucent zebrafish model, we employ fluorescent transgenic reporter strains and genetic mutant lines to interrogate the cellular and genetic regulation of heart development. My research aims to understand how to build a heart. Traineeships, honours and PhD projects include • Deciphering genetic pathways in cardiac valve development • Analysing cardiac progenitor cell migration during early heart development • Investigating cellular organisation in distinct cardiac compartments.

Research title: Tissue repair and cancer Summary of research interests: Our research group focuses on understanding the mechanism of common human cancer. In particular we study the paediatric brain tumour, medulloblastoma, and the most common form of cancer, basal cell carcinoma of the skin (BCC). Both of these tumour types are caused by aberrant regulation of the Hedgehog (Hh) signalling pathway. The Hh pathway is also important in normal embryonic development and stem cell regulation. Therefore, our work examines both the cancerous state and normal tissue regulation. We work at the interface between developmental biology and human/mouse genetics and genomics to gain new insights into how cancers occur, and how we might block their growth. Traineeships, honours and PhD projects include

Professor Brandon Wainwright +61 7 3346 2110

• Control of tumour – study of the paediatric brain tumour, medulloblastoma, and the most common form of cancer, basal cell carcinoma of the skin (BCC) • Stem cell growth – examining interface between developmental biology andhuman/mouse genetics and genomics to gain new insights into how cancers occur, and how we might block their growth.

Research title: Genetics and genomics of complex traits

Professor Peter Visscher +61 7 3346 6348

Summary of research interests: Virtually all human traits that vary between individuals have unknown genetic and non-genetic factors that contribute to the observed variation – they are called ‘complex traits’. We discover specific factors that explain individual differences between people across a wide range of complex traits; such as risk to common disease, anthropomorphic traits such as height, genomic traits such as gene expression and gene methylation. We are interested in quantifying and dissecting trait variation in the population into genetic and nongenetic factors, and in identifying specific gene variants that contribute to genetic variation. We use large datasets and sophisticated statistical models to address fundamental questions about genetic variation in the human population and to predict individual complex trait phenotypes using genetic and genomic data. The Yang, Wray and Visscher groups form the Complex Trait Genomics Core offering shared training programs based on informal lectures and discussion groups. Traineeships, honours and PhD projects include • Forensic genomics – making predictions about complex traits from biological samples • Estimation of genetic variation from whole genome sequence data

Research title: Quantitative genomics of common disorders of the brain

Professor Naomi Wray +61 7 3346 6374 n.wray @

Summary of research interests: The last five years have seen unprecedented advances in our understanding of the genetics of complex common disorders of the brain. Given the clinical complexity of these disorders, perhaps it is not surprisingly that the empirical data are revealing complex genetic heterogeneity and a genetic architecture of hundreds of genetic variants of small effect. We combine in-house genetic and ‘omic data with publicly available data sets to further understanding of the etiology of disorders of the brain. We use quantitative genetic modelling to add objective evaluation of empirical data – for example, we recently quantified the likely contribution of de novo mutations, to the association between paternal age and psychiatric disorder. The Yang, Wray and Visscher groups form the Complex Trait Genomics Core offering shared training programs based on informal lectures and discussion groups. Traineeships and honours projects include • Genomics of neurological disorders, particularly motor neurone disease and Parkinson’s disease • Genomics of psychiatric disorders, particularly autism spectrum disorders and major depression • Quantitative genetic modelling of disease – using theory to understand empirical data

Research title: Integrative analysis of omics data for human complex diseases Summary of research interests: There are hundreds of millions of people worldwide who suffer from complex diseases such as obesity, type 2 diabetes and schizophrenia. The etiology of these diseases, however, are poorly understood. We focus on developing novel statistical methods to perform integrate analysis of large-scale data from genomics, transcriptomics and epigenomics studies to identify genes and/or functional DNA elements that are critical for the pathogenesis of a disease. The Yang, Wray and Visscher groups form the Complex Trait Genomics Core offering shared training programs based on informal lectures and discussion groups. Traineeships, honours and PhD projects include • Integrative analysis of omics data to identify genes for human complex traits and diseases

Associate Professor Jian Yang +61 7 3346 6393 jian.yang @


• Developing user-friendly software tools for the analysis of complex traits using omics data

Institute for Molecular Bioscience The University of Queensland Building 80, 306 Carmody Road St Lucia Qld 4072 +61 7 3346 2222 +61 7 3346 2101 InstituteforMolecularBioscience IMB Postgraduate Office +61 7 3346 2133 +61 7 3346 2101

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2017 imb postgraduate training guide with researcher profiles  
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