Neuroinflammation in MS

Glial neuroinflammatory signalling in multiple sclerosis

Degree type


Closing date

25 September 2023



Citizenship requirement

Domestic / International

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.  Some common genetic risk factors have been identified, but most have no known biological role in MS. Our team studies families with an unusually high incidence of MS.  Within these families, multiple first-degree relatives have MS, suggesting that their genetic contribution to MS development outweighs the environmental and lifestyle contributions.  By performing whole genome sequencing we have identified a variant in the NLRX1 gene that only occurs within the family members with MS. The NLRX1 gene encodes a mitochondrial protein that regulates inflammatory responses. We hypothesise that this MS-family associated variant contributes to MS disease development and progression. This project aims to use a combination of animal and induced pluripotent stem cells (iPSCs) to determine the molecular and cellular consequences of this gene variant on microglial and astrocyte function, and identify how this variant may contribute to MS pathogenesis. This project will involve the handling and monitoring of transgenic animal models that are combined with animal models of inflammatory demyelination, culturing human iPS cells and differentiating them into to different types of brain cells, transcriptomics, confocal microscopy and computational image analysis.

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.

Primary Supervisor

Meet Dr Jessica Fletcher


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
  • Applications are open to Domestic and International applicants
  • Applications are open to applications from biological or computational biology discipline background only
  • For International applicants, English language score must be above minimum VISA entry requirements for this project

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 Jessica Fletcher 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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