PhD Student

    PhD Student at QIMR Berghofer Medical Research Institute

    Website QIMR Berghofer Medical Research Institute

    Job Profile: Ph.D. 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 Psychiatric Genetics Lab:

    The Psychiatric Genetics laboratory at QIMR Berghofer comprises staff and students working at the intersection between neuroimaging, genetics and mental health.

    The Psychiatric Genetics group develops and applies statistical genetic methods across a wide range of neuropsychological and brain imaging traits to better understand their aetiology. A major interest is exploring the genetic underpinnings of depression and bipolar disorder, and how genes may influence how individuals respond to treatment and the side-effects they may experience.

    Project Description:

    Project outline: The successful applicant will undertake PhD level research studies.

    Project Descriptions:

    One in five Australians will be diagnosed with major depressive disorder (MDD) in their lifetime, and approximately one third of those will not respond to treatment. While progress has been made in understanding the role genetics plays in risk of depression, there is still much more understanding needed to elucidate the biology of disorder. Furthermore, MDD is primarily managed pharmacologically with antidepressants alongside psychotherapy, but across treatment types outcomes are variable and many individuals do not experience any remission of symptoms or cease treatment due to adverse side-effects. It is hypothesized that a proportion of individual differences in treatment response is due to a genetic component. However, little is known about the extent to which genes may play a role in treatment response. This project will predominantly focus on the genetic analysis of depression risk and treatment response but may also consider genetic analyses for other mental health or neurological disorders as well as relationships between these disorders and other traits.


    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 already have access to national and international large-scale genetic data sets (N=20,000 and N= 500,000 respectively) which collected data on depression risk, features, medication response including efficacy, tolerability, and adverse side-effects as well as psychotherapy response. The student will employ a range of statistical genetic approaches such as, genome-wide association studies and polygenic risk scoring, to interrogate these data and to determine the genes and pathways underlying depression-related traits as well as explore the relationships between depression and other phenotypes.

    About You:

    Suited to someone with an undergraduate or Master’s degree in psychology, genetics, epidemiology, statistics or bioinformatics. Experience in the analysis/ manipulation of large datasets and a good knowledge of computing is desirable but not essential. Non-statistical applicants must be able to demonstrate some knowledge of statistics. For statistical applicants, some knowledge of psychology or genetics is desirable.

    Stipend Payment:

    The successful applicant will be provided a tax-free living stipend of $32,129 per annum for 3 years with possible 6 month extension.

    Further information: For further information, contact Brittany Mitchell 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 2 January 2023

    Job Ref: JM000145

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