How does diet affect Alzheimer's disease?

Degree type


Closing date

25 September 2023



Citizenship requirement

Domestic / International

About the research project

Alzheimer's disease (AD) is a severely debilitating and ultimately fatal form of dementia. The disease is marked by the accumulation of extracellular β-amyloid plaques and intracellular tangles of the microtubule-associated protein tau. Despite over 100 years of research, the mechanisms through which these hallmarks cause neurodegeneration remain elusive, and no treatment or cure that can reverse the effects of the disease exists.

Although we are still understanding the risk factors that lead to the onset of AD, a major identified risk is diet. Epidemiological research has focused upon comparing broadly-defined consumption patterns and specific dietary components. However, a controlled analysis of the influence of key macronutrients – protein, lipids and carbohydrates – on AD susceptibility has been notably lacking. Furthermore, we do not understand how diet affects diseased neurons on a transcriptional or epigenetic level.

This project will discover how diet affects AD progression in beta-amyloid and tauopathy-based animal models of the disease, and compare this to the response seen in healthy ageing.  Using the model organism Drosophila melanogaster, it will couple behavioural, imaging and molecular approaches with the emerging science of Nutritional Geometry. By comparing against natural ageing, the project will ultimately attempt to determine whether neurodegeneration is simply accelerated ageing, encompassing the same molecular changes, or whether the two processes differ.

Primary Supervisor

Meet Dr Owen Marshall


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.

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.

Additional desirable selection criteria specific to this project:

  • Experience in Drosophila husbandry
  • Experience in Drosophila or other animal behavioural research
  • Experience in molecular biology
  • Experience with statistics / biostatistics / data analysis

Application process

  1. Select your project, and check that you meet the eligibility and selection criteria, including citizenship;
  2. Contact Dr Owen Marshall 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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