HDR Scholarship - Rabies-inspired strategies to tackle neurodegeneration

Applications now open. A PhD scholarship is available to initiate and conduct research on the topic 'Rabies-inspired strategies to tackle neurodegeneration'.

Project Supervisor

Additional Supervision Team

Prof Alister Ward

Dr John Bingham (CSIRO-ACDP)


Research topic

Premature degeneration and loss of long projections of neurons such as axons and dendrites result in impaired neurological functioning during ageing and in many neurodegenerative diseases. Currently there is no effective treatment to reduce or prevent axonal degeneration. In contrast, Rabies is a fatal neurological infection, where the virus uses axonal projections to spread within the host nervous system. We have recently discovered that some strains of rabies virus have an inherent ability to inhibit degeneration of axons and keep them healthy to produce an efficient infection in the nervous system. In an innovation-inspired-by-nature approach, we aim to study this recently discovered abilities of rabies virus to identify new strategies for treating neurodegenerative diseases.

We hypothesize that investigation of natural abilities of rabies virus could provide novel information about the signalling mechanisms and molecules controlling axonal degeneration in neurons. Using ex-vivo neuronal model systems we aim to identify the mechanism of how rabies virus blocks axonal degeneration. This could provide information to reverse engineer the specific ability of rabies virus without its harmful effects to develop safe and effective strategies for treating neurodegeneration

This project will be based at CSIRO-Australian Centre for Disease Preparedness, a high containment research facility, and one of very few in the world enabling advanced research into pathogens that pose a significant threat to humans and animals.

Project aim

The project presents an ideal opportunity for the student to train in the multidisciplinary research fields of neurobiology and virology at a specialised CSIRO research facility in collaboration with Deakin University. The candidate will utilise advanced ex-vivo neuronal model systems using primary mouse neurons and stem cell-derived human neurons to study the biological mechanisms associated with rabies infections. The work will be done at Physical Containment level 3 (PC3) using diverse techniques including mass spectrometry, RNA-Seq and confocal imaging. The project will also include development of novel recombinant viral tools for live confocal imaging of infected neurons and proximity dependent viral interactome analysis.

Important dates

Applications close 5pm, Monday 15 November 2021.


This scholarship is available over 3 years.

  • Stipend of $28,600 per annum tax exempt (2021 rate)
  • Relocation allowance of $500 - $1500 (for single to family) for students moving from interstate
  • International students only:  Tuition fees offset for the duration of 4 years. Single Overseas Student Health Cover policy for the duration of the student visa.

Eligibility criteria

To be eligible you must:

  • be either a domestic or international candidate currently residing in Australia. Domestic includes candidates with Australian Citizenship, Australian Permanent Residency or New Zealand Citizenship.
  • meet Deakin's PhD entry requirements
  • be enrolling full time and hold an honours degree (first class) or an equivalent standard master's degree with a substantial research component.
  • Acceptance of the PhD student is subjected to conditions including provision of security and health clearance requirements at CSIRO-ACDP.

Please refer to the research degree entry pathways page for further information.

How to apply

Learn more about submitting a successful application on the How to apply page


Contact us

For more information about this scholarship, please contact Dr Vinod Sundaramoorthy

Dr Vinod Sundaramoorthy
Research Fellow, Viral Neuropathogenesis
Email Dr Vinod Sundaramoorthy
+61 3 522 75210