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Two PhD Scholarships in infectious diseases, School of Medicine are available in Deakin University's Strategic Research Centre in Molecular and Medical Research. The research will be conducted at the HIV and Emerging Viruses Laboratory at CSIRO Australian Animal Health Laboratory, Geelong.
Both scholarships are with Professor Johnson Mak, Chair in Infectious Diseases and an ARC Future Fellow.
Project 1: Histone Deacetylase Inhibitor and HIV Latency
HIV latently infected cells are dormant (or silent) infection that are resilient to combination antiretroviral therapy, and HIV latency is due to the presence of histone deacetylase (HDAC) that recruit complexes to repress the transcription of HIV genomes. Introduction of HDAC inhibitors (HDACis) have the capacity to reactivate these dormant infected cells, enabling the last trace of HIV infected cells to be eliminated from the body. Members of class I HDAC (namely HDAC1, 2, 3) have been implicated to have a role in maintaining HIV latency. The McGee and Pfeffer labs have recently generated a large number of novel HDACis, and this project will evaluate the potentials of these novel HDACis to induce HIV production in experimental cell lines in the Mak lab. The current design of HDACis is largely based on the protein crystal structures of HDAC2 and HDAC8, and structural information of HDAC1, HDAC3 or HDAC complex with known HDACis would provide invaluable insight in the design and enhancement of next generation HDACis. Recombinant HDAC1, 2, 3 will be expressed and isolated in the Mak lab for the generation of protein crystals in the McKinstry lab. This project brings together the expertise from four different laboratories, HIV biology (Mak), protein biochemistry (McKinstry), HDAC biology (McGee) and synthetic chemistry and drug development (Pfeffer). Individuals who have a strong interest in HIV biology and protein biochemistry are encouraged to apply.
Possible research areas include:
Project 2: Molecular Biology of HIV evolution
One of the hallmarks of HIV-1 infection is the generation of diverse quasispecies that exhausts, and ultimately cripples, the immune system of the host. The rapid evolution of HIV-1 is arguably its strongest counter-measure to neutralize host immune pressure and anti-retroviral assault. It is often not appreciated that the diversity of HIV within a single individual 6 years post infection is greater than the annual diversity of global influenza A in any given year, highlighting the enormous pressure that HIV has imposed onto our immune system and the tremendous difficulty for the development of effective HIV vaccine. The objective of this project is to use next generation sequencing to interrogate the process of HIV evolution. Molecular virology, bioinformatics and biostatistics will be used to dissect these processes. Individuals who have a strong interest in molecular biology, genetics, computational biology or mathematics are strongly encouraged to apply.
Possible research areas include:
Each scholarship is $23,728 per annum.
Please submit an online application.
Please read the Terms and Conditions (158 KB) of the award.
Please contact Prof Johnson Mak via email email@example.com or telephone: 04 3956 2574.