Rational Development of Carbohydrate-based Cryoprotectants

PhD Scholarship

We are looking for a highly motivated PhD student interested in working as part of an interdisciplinary and cross-institutional research team. The successful applicant must have an interest and relevant background in chemical biology, organic synthesis and characterisation of novel, biologically active molecules. This three-year position will support an ARC-funded project and is part of a collaboration between The University of New England (UNE) and RMIT University (Melbourne). The PhD project is hosted by UNE, which is situated in picturesque Armidale, New South Wales. Although based at UNE, the student will also have opportunities to conduct site visits to RMIT in order to acquire new biophysical skills, as well as attend and present at international and domestic conferences.

Cryopreservation is a widely used technique that employs very low (sub-zero) temperatures for the long-term storage and subsequent re-use of living cells, tissues and even whole organisms. However, unprotected cooling is almost universally lethal to living cells and requires the use of chemical additives, or cryprotectants (CPAs) that make life possible at these very low temperatures (typically -100 oC). The development of non-toxic CPAs that show effective, broad-spectrum cryoprotective activity in many cell/tissue types would represent a major breakthrough in many research fields and industries, including modern regenerative/reproductive medicine, organ transplantation, ecology, and food technology. However, conventional CPAs such as dimethyl sulfoxide are highly toxic to many cells and their use is limited to a few, well-studied cell types. Despite decades of research, there are still no CPAs that show broad-spectrum activity, and which are safe and non-toxic. This exciting PhD project will utilise innovative phase field modelling data to inform and optimise the development of a new generation of non-toxic, carbohydrate based cryoprotectants.

The PhD student will be directly involved with the molecular design and synthesis of new bio-inspired CPAs. The student will conduct research as part of a larger research group with interests in carbohydrate-based drug discovery. The candidate will be required to regularly liaise with the primary supervisor and other team members of the project to help deliver high-quality research outcomes, which will include communicating key research findings in peer-reviewed, high-impact journals, patents, and at conferences. The applicant must be proficient in spoken and written English. Additional in-house training will be provided to the successful applicant.

The scholarship value is AU$27,596 p.a. for a maximum of three years. The scholarship is tax exempt and paid in fortnightly instalments. This scholarship is available to domestic students. In addition to the stipend, students will receive AU$3,500 p.a for research support. Please see the scholarship terms and conditions for more information.

Applicants must meet UNE’s admission requirements for a PhD program and must submit a candidature application if they wish to apply for a scholarship. For more information on submitting a candidature application please see our webpage on how to apply/enrol for candidature.

Please click here for more information about Higher Degree Research at UNE.

To Apply or Enquire

To discuss this opportunity and/or submit your application, please contact the project manager:

Dr Brendan Wilkinson (brendan.wilkinson@une.edu.au).

Your application should include:

  • A cover letter, which describes yourself, your previous research and ongoing interests, why you are well suited to carry out this project, and why you want to do a PhD.
  • A Curriculum Vitae (CV), including a list of publications (if applicable).
  • A copy of your honours/master degrees.
  • A transcript of previous grades.

Students will be expected to commence as soon as possible and be enrolled full-time and on-campus.

UNE aims for gender and racial equality and we welcome applicants of any gender and with different birth backgrounds, functionality, and life experiences.

Scholarship ID Code: S19/07