Cross-disease Comparisons of Dementia

Cross-disease Comparisons of Childhood Dementia using iPSC

Degree type

PhD

Closing date

10 October 2022

Campus

Hobart

Citizenship requirement

Domestic/International

About the research project

There are more than 70 rare genetic diseases that cause childhood dementia, which affect the child’s ability to learn, play and recognise family and friends. Most of these diseases result in a life expectancy of less than 18 years and do not have disease-modifying treatment options. Little is known about the cellular changes amongst these dementia-causing diseases because they are usually researched independently. However, a greater understanding of the molecular similarities and differences between these diseases will increase opportunities for therapy development and identify potential biomarkers of prognosis or therapy efficacy. To achieve this, we will apply diverse, but complementary, approaches to drive a paradigm shift in childhood dementia research. We will use advanced techniques in stem cell biology and gene editing technology to generate an isogenic induced pluripotent stem cell (iPSC) panel that spans multiple diseases causing childhood dementia for ‘omics studies of iPSC-derived brain cell types. Other approaches may include tackling the extreme genetic heterogeneity of a specific disease that causes childhood dementia using iPSC and CRISPR/Cas gene editing, or testing efficacy of novel therapies for childhood dementia using patient-derived iPSC. In this manner we will overcome the siloed nature of research into diseases causing childhood dementia and accelerate clinical trials for these diseases.

More than one position may be available for this project.

Primary Supervisor

Meet A/Prof Tony Cook

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 $28,854 per annum (2022 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

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

Additional eligibility criteria specific to this project/scholarship:

  • Applications are open to Domestic/ International/ Onshore applicants
  • Applications are open to applications from neuroscience/cell biology/molecular biology disciplines or similar background only
  • Applicants must be able to undertake the project on-campus

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:

  • Strong communication skills
  • Strong record keeping skills
  • Familiar with PC2 laboratory research

Additional desirable selection criteria specific to this project:

  • Experience in contemporary cell-based techniques, particularly iPSC culture and differentiation, and/or CRISPR/Cas gene editing
  • Experience in image-based analyses

Application process

There is a three-step application process:

  1. Select your project, and check you meet the eligibility and selection criteria;
  2. Contact the Primary Supervisor, A/Prof Tony Cook to discuss your suitability and the project's requirements; and
  3. 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 2 x 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 by the advertised outcome date.

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