MPhil Student

    MPhil Student at QIMR Berghofer Medical Research Institute

    Website QIMR Berghofer Medical Research Institute

    Job Profile: MPhil Student

    • Brisbane Based with some travel
    • World Class research facilities
    • Living Stipend

    About QIMR Berghofer:

    QIMR Berghofer is a statutory body under the Queensland Institute of Medical Research Act (1945). The mission of QIMR Berghofer is to promote better health through impactful medical research. QIMR Berghofer has a vision to lead the way to significant innovation in health outcomes, nationally and globally. We are committed to supporting ground-breaking research discoveries, achieving sustainability and achieving impact, maintaining an internationally recognised Medical Research Institute within the State of Queensland that is the primary focus of Medical Research within the State. We cooperate with, and where possible assist the work of other medical research institutions within the State and globally.

    QIMR Berghofer Values:

    Excellence and Integrity
    Collaboration and Partnership
    Respect and Diversity

    The Institute focuses its research within four key Programs:

    Cancer Research
    Infection & Inflammation
    Mental Health & Neuroscience
    Population Health

    About the Cellular and Molecular Neurodegeneration Lab:

    The Cellular and Molecular Neurodegeneration Group at QIMR Berghofer comprises staff and students working to understand causes and develop potential treatments for neurodegenerative brain diseases such as dementia (adult and childhood), motor neuron disease, Parkinson’s disease, and Huntington’s disease.

    The Cellular and Molecular Neurodegeneration Group has developed a range of new patient-derived brain cell models including models of the brain immune system, the blood-brain barrier, 3D brain organoids, and olfactory (nasal cell) models. These are used to understand the molecular basis of disease and test new drug opportunities.

    Project Description:

    The successful applicant (MPhil Student) will undertake MPhil level research studies.

    Neurodegenerative diseases have a strong environmental component, which can increase the risk of contracting these disorders, or increase the risk of disease severity. Recent studies have provided evidence for strong links between air pollution and increased risk of dementia and other neurological disorders. Airborne pollution from bushfire smoke is a rapidly growing issue in Australia due to climate change-driven increases in bushfire frequency and intensity. Studies also indicate that Australian bushfire smoke may be one of the most toxic forms of common air pollution. However, there is little understanding of how bushfire smoke impacts the human brain, or how it may contribute to risk of neurodegenerative disease onset or progression. We have begun to investigate this, and our preliminary studies indicate potent effects of bushfire smoke on human brain cells. However, a great deal further information is needed to understand how exposure to bushfire smoke impacts the human brain. In addition, bushfire firefighters are on the frontline of smoke exposure and therefore have the potential for increased risk of smoke-mediated pathology, especially with the increased prevalence of bushfires. Understanding how these firefighters are affected by bushfire smoke will provide key insights into the relationship between bushfire smoke and brain health.


    The aims of the project will be to investigate interactions between bushfire smoke and human brain health, at the molecular through to population level. This diverse and unique project will seek to understand how bushfire smoke impacts different types of human brain cells in cultured models using smoke collected from bushfires and other sources. The project will also seek to understand if there are increased risks for dementia or other neurological diseases due to bushfire smoke exposure, and finally, determine if a nasal brushing-based model can be used as a predictor of health impact from bushfire smoke.


    We have a range of human brain cell models and access to bushfire smoke that can be tested on these cultures. Impacts of bushfire smoke to be measured will include cell toxicity, inflammation, oxidative stress, and global gene expression. Our collaborators in population health and bioinformatics have the tools to align potential brain health changes in bushfire firefighters that may be due to smoke exposure. Through our collaborators, we also have access to bushfire firefighters to assess health impacts of bushfire smoke, and undertake nasal brushing and subsequent gene expression analysis and correlation with health measures.

    About You:

    Suited to someone with an undergraduate or Honours degree in cell or molecular biology, and preferably some experience with large data analysis/bioinformatics. A strong interest in brain diseases, air pollution, or bushfire impact on human health would be preferable.

    Stipend Payment:

    The successful applicant (MPhil Student) will be provided a tax-free living stipend of $30,000 per annum for 2 years with possible 6-month extension.

    Further information: For further information please contact Associate Professor Tony White via e-mail

    To submit an application: use the APPLY button. All applicants must supply a Academic CV, Undergraduate Academic Transripts, English Proficiency Test (if needed) and two referee letters.

    Closing date 13 December 2022

    Job Ref: JM000140

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