Tracking the spread of Parkinson’s disease

Tracking the spread of Parkinson’s disease through cellular networks of the brain

Degree type


Closing date

29 October 2021



Citizenship requirement

Domestic/International Onshore

About the research project

Our lab works on determining the cellular and molecular mechanisms underlying a range of Neurodegenerative diseases. Specifically, this neuroscience project will focus on the anatomical and pathological spread of Parkinson’s disease. We aim to understand the role of glial cells and different neuron populations in the spread of alpha-synuclein pathology through cellular networks of the brain. The project will make use of both in vitro and in vivo disease models. The in vitro models will be generated with the aid of microfluidic cell-culture platforms that we have custom designed and fabricated (e.g. see Yap et. al., 2017). These devices will be used to reconstruct complex cell culture networks comprising neurons and glial cells, or heterogenous neuronal networks with a defined direction of synaptic connectivity. The use of microfluidic technology has significant advantages over traditional cell culture techniques by allowing genetic, environmental or pharmaceutical manipulation of individual cell populations within the network. Using these cell culture tools, the candidate will probe how pathogenic insults influence a given cell population to potentiate, or hinder the spread of alpha-synuclein pathology. Our microfluidic platforms are compatible for analysis with fixed immunocytochemistry, live cell imaging and proteomic / metabolomic quantification. In addition to in vitro work, the candidate will employ a previously characterised in vivo model of Parkinson’s disease (Pan-Montojo et al., 2010; 2012), based on chronic neurotoxin administration into wild-type and alpha-synuclein null mice. This experiment is designed to determine the role of alpha-synuclein in the spread of Parkinson’s disease pathology and neurodegeneration. Analytical techniques will include histology / immunocytochemistry, microscopy and biochemistry.

Primary Supervisor

Meet Dr Ruth Musgrove


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.


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.

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, Dr Ruth Musgrove, 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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