Elite Research Scholarships

Understanding the role of Inflammasomes

Understanding the role of Inflammasomes in inflammatory bowel diseases (IBD)


Based at the School of Human Life Sciences, University of Tasmania, Launceston


Ulcerative colitis and Crohn’s disease are collectively called inflammatory bowel diseases (IBD). The causes for these devastating intestinal diseases are unknown. Recent studies have indicated a strong role for inflammasomes (mediated through two cytokines namely IL-1 beta and IL-18) in IBD. These controversial  investigations were mainly from the mouse system and not validated in human IBD. 


The project aims to characterise the role of different components of the inflammasome in IBD. In particular, a number of mouse models (deficient in inflammasomes) along with our recently described spontaneous colitis model Winnie ( Eri et al., 2011, Heazelwood, Eri et al., 2008; McGuckin, Eri et al., 2009, 2010, 2011) will be used in conjunction with human studies to correlate the link between  inflammasomes and the pathogenesis of  colitis.


The Mucosal Immunology lab (Dr Raj Eri)  located  at the School of Human Life Sciences, UTAS has excellent facilities for conducting both in vitro (cell lines, human tissue) and in vivo (animal models) investigations. Due to strong links with the clinical gastroenterologists, human clinical studies can be done. The research laboratories at the School of Human Life Sciences are located on a dedicated floor space of about 450m2 shared by 8 different research groups. Research facilities include the latest in cell culture (4 laminar flow hoods, liquid nitrogen storage, cold rooms/freezers), Molecular/cell Biology (normal and qPCR machines, western blot equipment, gel documentation, dedicated RNA room, PCR prep room, cold centrifuges) Immunology, Animal holding facilities, histology and microscopy.

Funding arrangements

We are seeking highly organized, enthusiastic, motivated and organised PhD scholars interested in working within a team environment with highly experienced supervisors. We have 2-3 scholarships available. There will be substantial research assistant support and there is a large cohort of senior PhD students already in our group. Funding is available through UTAS Elite Scholarship- over $30,000 per annum.

The student

This project would suit a student with a strong molecular biology/immunology/physiology background and an interest in studying gut immunology. Although based at UTAS,Launceston, the collaboration with Mater Medical Research Institute, Brisbane will involve the student working in Brisbane occasionally.

Candidates for this scholarship must have first-class BSc Honours or Master’s degree by research with research publications.

More Information:

Dr Raj Eri
School of Human Life Sciences

03 6324 5467 or 0430 029 656