Establishing a human cell model of the glial dysfunction in multiple sclerosis

Degree type

PhD

Closing date

29 October 2021

Campus

Hobart

Citizenship requirement

Domestic/International Onshore

About the research project

Multiple Sclerosis (MS) is a complex disease associated with immune cell infiltration of the central nervous system (CNS), myelin loss, and neurodegeneration. The exact cause of MS is not known, but knowledge of the key lifestyle, environmental and genetic risk factors has led to the development of 2 competing hypotheses – (i) the ‘inside-out’ hypothesis where MS starts in the CNS and leads to the activation of the peripheral immune system, and (ii) the ‘outside-in’ hypothesis where the immune system is activated peripherally and attacks the CNS. To investigate the ‘inside out’ hypothesis we will use stem cell lines produced by reprogramming blood cells from people with MS to generate key brain cell types – namely, oligodendrocytes, astrocytes, microglia, and neurons—and perform RNA sequencing and cell biology assays (e.g. flow cytometry, biochemistry, immunocytochemistry, enzyme-linked immunosorbent assays (ELISAs), confocal microscopy and image analysis) to understand the earliest contribution of brain cells to propagating MS pathology. We anticipate that this project will result in the first ever in vitro model of MS that will enable us to learn the cellular pathways that are responsible for MS initiation and progression, and provide a novel platform for the development of brain repair therapies. The student will work within the MS Research Flagship and be supported by an interdisciplinary team consisting of world-leading experts in glial and stem cell biology, genomics, and MS pathophysiology. We expect that the outcomes from this project will result in the identification of pathways that can be targeted for therapeutic intervention that will feed into our fundamental research to clinical trial pipeline.

**Multiple students can undertake different aspects of this project, and the co-supervisory team can be finalised following a discussion with A/Prof Young.

Primary Supervisor

Meet A/Prof Kaylene Young

Funding

Applicants will be considered for a Research Training Program (RTP) scholarship or Tasmania Graduate Research Scholarship (TGRS) which, if successful, provides:

  • a living allowance stipend of $28,597 per annum (2021 rate, indexed annually) for 3.5 years
  • a relocation allowance of up to $2,000
  • a tuition fees offset covering the cost of tuition fees for up to four years (domestic applicants only)

If successful, international applicants will receive a University of Tasmania Fees Offset for up to four years.

As part of the application process you may indicate if you do not wish to be considered for scholarship funding.

Eligibility

The project is open to domestic (Australian and New Zealand) and international applicants who are already in Australia (onshore) at the time of submitting their application.

Due to current Australian COVID-19 travel restrictions the University cannot accept applications from international applicants who are currently overseas.

Applicants should review the Higher Degree by Research minimum entry requirements.

Selection Criteria

The project is competitively assessed and awarded.  Selection is based on academic merit and suitability to the project as determined by the College.

Additional essential selection criteria specific to this project:

  • A BSc (Hons) degree or equivalent

Additional desirable selection criteria specific to this project:

  • A background in neuroscience would be advantageous
  • Experience working in a laboratory

Application process

There is a three-step application process:

  1. Select the project, and check you meet the eligibility and selection criteria;
  2. Contact the Primary Supervisor, A/Prof Kaylene Young, if you have any questions about the project; and
  3. Click here to submit an application by the closing date listed above.
    • Copy and paste the title of the project from this advertisement into your application. If you don’t correctly do this your application may be rejected.
    • As part of your application you will be required to submit a covering letter, a CV including contact details of two referees and your project research proposal.

Following the application closing date applications will be assessed within the College. Applicants should expect to receive notification of the outcome by email.

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