Healthier kids, brighter futures

Research

PhD Projects Available

For more detailed descriptions of these projects, see Research Supervisor Connect database.

To apply for CMRI PhD entry, click here to find the application form and instructions. It is highly recommended that you also contact the listed supervisor directly prior to submitting an application, enclosing a CV and recent academic transcript.
 

GENE THERAPY

Gene therapy for genetic and acquired diseases of the liver and haematopoietic system
Supervisor: Professor Ian Alexander, Gene Therapy Research Unit (ian.alexander@health.nsw.gov.au)
The Gene Therapy Research Unit has a diverse selection of projects available that can be tailored for honours or PhD student. All projects focus on the development and use of gene transfer and genome editing technology.
Co-Supervisors: Samantha Ginn, Sharon Cunningham, Claus Hallwirth

Development of novel viral vectors for genome editing applications
Supervisor: Dr Leszek Lisowski, 
Translational Vectorology Group (llisowski@cmri.org.au)
We work towards the understanding of the basic biology, but also translational development of novel gene therapy vectors and gene editing tools targeting multiple tissues, including liver, hematopoietic system and central nervous system.
Co-Supervisor: Prof Ian Alexander
  

DEVELOPMENTAL BIOLOGY AND GENETICS

Control of cell differentiation during mouse embryogenesis and stem cell development
Supervisor: Professor Patrick PLTam, Embryology (ptam@cmri.org.au)
The research will provide insights into how progenitor cells for embryonic tissues may be specified and determine the conditions that promote differentiation into germ layer derivatives. The outcome will inform us on the molecular and signalling activities that control the first step of differentiation of multi-potent embryonic cells and stem cells to functionally competent cells.
Co-Supervisor: Dr Pierre Osteil

Head Development: Intersection of transcriptional and signalling activities
Supervisor: Professor Patrick PLTam, Embryology (ptam@cmri.org.au)
 
This project is designed to test the hypothesis that head formation during embryogenesis is controlled by a multitude of interacting transcriptional and signalling activities, and that the severe phenotypic consequence of the perturbation of these activities will place them at a critical intersection for directing cell differentiation and tissue patterning.
Co-Supervisor: Dr Tennille Sibbritt (tsibbritt@cmri.org.au)

Pathways to therapies in blinding genetic retinal eye diseases
Supervisor: Prof Robyn Jamieson, Eye Genetics Research Unit (rjamieson@cmri.org.au)
In this project, novel disease genes and variants are identified that cause blinding retinal eye diseases. Cellular, gene editing, proteomic and animal model approaches are taken to identify disease gene and protein functions and progress to therapeutic strategies. Novel treatment strategies are also investigated.

Genomic medicine for unravelling the challenges of pathogenesis and treatment of blindness due to childhood cataract and glaucoma
Supervisor: Prof Robyn Jamieson (rjamieson@cmri.org.au)
Novel disease genes and variants are identified that contribute to the blinding eye diseases of childhood cataract and glaucoma.  In this project further novel variants will be detected, and cellular, gene editing, proteomic and animal model approaches will be taken to identify disease gene and protein functions and progress to therapeutic strategies.
 

NEUROSCIENCE

Molecular mechanisims of nerve communication
Supervisor: Prof Phil Robinson, 
Cell Signalling Unit (probinson@cmri.org.au)
We are determining the molecular mechanisms of nerve communication at the synapse to
understand epilepsy, schizophrenia and intellectual disabilities. We use the world’s most cutting edge technologies, including advanced proteomics, protein chemistry, molecular biology, cell biology, gene editing and drug discovery approaches.
 
Discovery and analysis of signalling pathways and mechanisms underlying learning and memory
Supervisor: Dr Mark Graham, (mgraham@cmri.org.au)
This project will aim to discover and validate new molecular mechanisms of how synaptic plasticity is regulated by proteins interactions at the neurotransmitter releases sites and phosphorylation-based signalling.
 
The regulation of neurotransmitter release by active zone proteins at the synapse
Supervisor: Dr Mark Graham, (mgraham@cmri.org.au)
This project will aim to discover and validate new molecular mechanisms of how neurotransmitter release and synaptic plasticity is regulated by active zone protein interactions and signalling. 
 

CANCER

Biochemistry and cell biology of the cancer-associated enzyme telomerase.
Supervisor: Tracy Bryan, Cell Biology Unit (tbryan@cmri.org.au)
Telomerase is the enzyme responsible for lengthening the ends of chromosomes (telomeres), thereby allowing most cancer cells to divide indefinitely.  We are determining the mechanisms of telomerase function using biochemical and cell-based approaches, with the aim of developing telomerase inhibitors as cancer therapeutics.
Co-Supervisor: Dr Scott Cohen
 
Telomere deprotection and cancer.
Supervisor: Dr Tony Cesare, Genome Integrity Unit (tcesare@cmri.org.au)
Telomeres are the structures at human chromosome ends that regulate cellular aging and tumour suppression. This project will explore how telomeres cooperate with the DNA damage response to control these phenomena.

The DNA replication stress response.
Supervisor: Dr Tony Cesare, Genome Integrity Unit (tcesare@cmri.org.au)
This project will focus on how cells respond to difficulties during DNA replication (i.e. DNA replication stress) and the mechanism of cell death DNA replication stress becomes lethal.
Co-Supervisor: Dr Noa Lamm-Shalem

Investigating the role of a novel RNA binding protein in telomerase activity.
Supervisor: Associate Professor Hilda Pickett, Telomere Length Regulation Unit (hpickett@cmri.org.au)
We have identified a role for a novel RNA binding protein in telomerase biogenesis and recruitment to telomeres. We aim to investigate how this protein functions in this context using fluorescence microscopy and live cell imaging, as well as telomere molecular biology and proteomics approaches.
Co-Supervisor: Dr Alexander Sobinoff

Understanding protein dephosphorylation in the DNA damage response
Supervisor: Associate Professor Hilda Pickett, Telomere Length Regulation Unit (hpickett@cmri.org.au)
By screening breast cancer samples, we have identified a novel protein phosphatase that regulates DNA repair pathway engagement at telomeres. We aim to investigate the role of this protein in the DNA damage response specifically at telomeres, with the overarching aim to understand how this protein contributes to genome stability and cancer development.
Co-Supervisor: Dr Alexander Sobinoff

Understanding and exploiting differences in cancer cells as novel cancer treatmenttargets
Supervisor: Prof Roger Reddel, 
Cancer Research Unit (rreddel@cmri.org.au)
We use molecular and cellular biology techniques, as well as next generation sequencing, to
study many aspects of how cancer cells become immortalised, including the Alternative
Lengthening of Telomeres mechanism and inactivation of tumour suppressor genes such as
p53. The aim is to find new treatments for cancer.