Microglia and neuro-immunometabolism

Microglia as the central drivers of neuro-immunometabolism

Degree type


Closing date

25 September 2023



Citizenship requirement

Domestic / International

About the research project

This project will use cutting-edge transgenic rat and microbubble drug delivery technologies in conjunction with sophisticated metabolic phenotyping to assess the role of microglia, the brain's immune cells, in the development and progression of obesity and insulin resistance. Insulin is a master metabolic regulator and has both peripheral and central nervous system effects. A diet high in fat leads to metabolic disease, i.e., increased inflammatory mediators, free fatty acids, and insulin in the blood. During early weight gain, the body becomes resistant to the effects of insulin in both peripheral tissues and the central nervous system, leading to disturbed whole-body energy homeostasis. We will use our established experimental models of obesity to determine how microglia in specific regions of the brain change with high fat diet, including interrogation of protein pathways and biological sex. We will employ transgenic approaches to specifically manipulate microglia and determine how this alters whole-body metabolic homeostasis and insulin sensitivity in both peripheral organs and the brain before weight gain and during established obesity. Lastly, we will establish the specific factors that drive microglial reactivity in obesity.  We know that manipulation of microglia can modulate weight gain. Therefore, we anticipate that the outcomes of this work will reveal microglia as key mediators of obesity and thus whole-body metabolic homeostasis.

Primary Supervisor

Meet Dr Jenna Ziebell


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 $31,500 per annum (2023 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.

Other funding opportunities and fees

For further information regarding other scholarships on offer, and the various fees of undertaking a research degree, please visit our Scholarships and fees on research degrees page.


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

Ensure your eligibility for the scholarship round by referring to our Key Dates.

Additional eligibility criteria specific to this project/scholarship:

  • 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.

Application process

  1. Select your project, and check that you meet the eligibility and selection criteria, including citizenship;
  2. Contact Dr Jenna Ziebell to discuss your suitability and the project's requirements; and
  3. In your application:
    • 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.
    • Submit a signed supervisory support form, a CV including contact details of 2 referees and your project research proposal.
  4. Apply prior to 25 September 2023.

Full details of the application process can be found under the 'How to apply' section of the Research Degrees website.

Following the 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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