Finding epigenetic codes in the brain

Cracking bioinformatic challenges to decode hidden DNA methylation signatures in the brain

Degree type


Closing date

25 September 2023



Citizenship requirement

Domestic / International

About the research project

Deciphering epigenetic data from brain presents a complex bioinformatic challenge, from delineating signals from multiple highly specialised cell types, to the unique biology of genome regulation in neuronal cells, and the pervasive and inherent variability between individuals. Neurons live for the lifetime of an individual and maintain plasticity vital for lifelong learning and memory. Existing in a post-mitotic state, neurons accumulate relatively high levels of CpH DNA methylation as a layer of gene regulation. However, this complicates DNA methylation and nucleosome occupancy analysis, particularly with established bioinformatic tools. Moreover, when we analyse epigenetic data from murine and human neurons there is significant inter-individual variability, a nuance often underserved by current bioinformatic pipelines. This PhD project harness our laboratory's existing epigenetic data and publicly available datasets from mouse and human neurons. It seeks to optimise existing and develop new bioinformatic tools to accurately assess CpH DNA methylation and robustly analyse inter-individual variation. This will enhance our ability to effectively examine differences between healthy and disease-related epigenetic data in the brain, which is currently a significant challenge in the field.

Primary Supervisor

Meet A/Prof Phillippa Taberlay


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:

  • Applications are open to Domestic, International and Onshore applicants
  • Applications are open to graduates in related fields (epigenetics and/or neuroscience and/or Hiddcomputational biology and/or bioinformatics)
  • 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:

  • Skills and/or experience in command line or analysis of next-generation sequencing data will be highly valued

Application process

  1. Select your project, and check that you meet the eligibility and selection criteria, including citizenship;
  2. Contact A/Prof Phillippa Taberlay 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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