Study As
Full Time

Principal Supervisor
Dr Chris Turner

Main Campus
Mawson Lakes

Applications Close
10 Feb 2023

Study Level

Applications Open To
Domestic Candidate or International Candidate

Tuition Fees:
All domestic students are eligible for a fee waiver. International students who receive a stipend are eligible for a fee waiver. Find out more about fees and conditions.

Project Stipend:
$29,863 p.a. available to domestic and international applicants

About this project

Harness nanotechnology to create better drug delivery methods

If you’re motivated to build a career in regenerative medicines and interested in creating nanotechnology-based innovations, the University of South Australia – Australia’s University of Enterprise – is offering a pioneering project-based PhD with important social impact within our Future Industries Institute

The oral route is by far the most common route for drug administration in the gastrointestinal (GI) tract. It can be used for both systemic drug delivery and for treating gastrointestinal disease. However, numerous hurdles limit effective drug delivery, including penetration of the mucosal layer and traffic through the hostile stomach environment. 

We have adapted porous silicon nanoparticle (pSi NP) technology to facilitate efficient drug delivery to the GI tract. Emerging data suggests that nanoparticles better penetrate mucosa and improve drug retention. Critically, pSi NPs are pH sensitive and shelter the payload from the highly acidic conditions of the stomach. 

Additional advantages of pSi NPs include biocompatibility and the capacity to be loaded with clinically relevant doses of RNA, proteins and monoclonal antibodies (mAb). Also, pSi NPs can be tuned to facilitate slow release. 

In our project, we hypothesise that pSi NPs will efficiently deliver therapeutic payloads to the GI tract of those affected by ulcerative colitis, a common inflammatory bowel disease. We aim to deliver clinically relevant doses of Flightless I neutralising antibody, which is an mAb being developed to treat UC. 

You will join an enthusiastic cohort within the Future Industries Institute (FII). The Regenerative Medicine Group comprises multiple research scientists, technicians and PhD students with expertise in tissue repair, biochemistry, drug development, animal models of disease and nanocarriers. 

You will have access to state-of-the-art histology, cell culture and biochemistry equipment. FII provides a dynamic work environment made up of multiple research groups and industry collaborators with a diverse range of expertise. 

This project will give you the unique opportunity to contribute to the betterment of society through developing novel therapeutic approaches to treat disease.

What you’ll do

In this project-based research degree, you will be trained in a number of laboratory techniques, ranging from histology and cell culture to biochemistry techniques such as ELISA, Western blot and PCR. You will also carry out some animal work involving models of inflammation and gut disease.

With supervision, you will generate and interpret experimental data, and then perform analyses using appropriate statistical models. You will also undertake extensive literature reviews in order to demonstrate a comprehensive understanding of biological concepts and how to carry out experimental design and problem solving. 

You will present project data and findings in multiple formats, including academic papers, posters and oral presentations. There will also be opportunities to attend and present at local and international conferences.

Upon completion, you will have an extensive range of technical skills related to performing animal trials, tissue processing, macroscopic and microscopic analysis of skin injury and repair, cell culture, and multiple laboratory-based assays. 

In addition, you will gain a sophisticated understanding of the mechanisms of inflammation, tissue regeneration, drug behaviour and tissue distribution associated with gut disease. You will develop the capacity to generate and test hypotheses to solve complicated biological questions, potentially contributing to the development of therapeutic options to treat disease. 

Where you’ll be based

You will be based in the Future Industries Institute (FII) which was established with a new research culture in mind – one deeply engaged with industry, with the end goal of building economic growth through relevant innovation and industry partnership.

The Institute reflects the University’s strategic ambition to be Australia’s University of Enterprise which engages fully with the professions and industry globally, whose research is informed, leading edge and relevant. FII continues to forge national and international research partnerships in new industries and technologies that address real world issues. Our goal is to support a creative and engaged culture and to help develop a sustainable ecosytem in which innovation, complex, growth-focused industries thrive.

FII's research supports state and national research priorities and comprises top research teams able to collaborate across disciplines and to work with industry partners to deliver innovative solutions.

With a vibrant research environment, a strong industry orientation, and active international and national links, both academic and industry based, the Institute is among the very best in Australia and attracts and retains leading researchers.

Supervisory Team
Financial Support 

This project is funded for reasonable research expenses. Additionally, a living allowance scholarship of $29,863 per annum is available to eligible applicants. Australian Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander applicants will be eligible to receive an increased stipend rate of $46,653 per annum (2023 rates). A fee-offset or waiver for the standard term of the program is also included. For full terms and benefits of the scholarship please refer to our scholarship information for domestic students or international students.

Eligibility and Selection 

This project is open to application from both domestic and international applicants.

Applicants must meet the eligibility criteria for entrance into a PhD. All applications that meet the eligibility and selection criteria will be considered for this project. A merit selection process will be used to determine the successful candidate.

The successful applicant is expected to study full-time and to be based at our Mawson Lakes Campus in the north of Adelaide. Note that international students on a student visa will need to study full-time.

Essential Dates 

Applicants are expected to start in a timely fashion upon receipt of an offer.  Extended deferral periods are not available. Applications close on Friday, 10th February 2023

How to apply:

Applications must be lodged online, please note UniSA does not accept applications via email.

For further support see our step-by-step guide on how to apply , or contact the Graduate Research team on +61 8 8302 5880, option 1 or email us at You will receive a response within one working day.

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