Study As
Full Time

Principal Supervisor
Associate Professor Anton Blencowe

Main Campus
City West

Applications Close
06 Jun 2024

Study Level
PhD or Master of Research

Applications Open To
Domestic Candidate or International Candidate

Tuition Fees:

All domestic students are eligible for a fee waiver. Find out more about fees and conditions.

Project Stipend:
No stipend available

About this project

Help fight the spread of antimicrobial resistance, the world’s hidden pandemic

If you’d like to build a career in pharmaceutical and chemical sciences and are passionate about reducing the spread of antimicrobial resistance, the University of South Australia – Australia’s University of Enterprise – is offering a hands-on project-based PhD within UniSA’s Centre for Pharmaceutical Innovation (CPI), in partnership with SAAFE CRC, industry and international academic partners.

Resistance to current antibiotics threatens the effective prevention and treatment of an ever-increasing range of human and livestock infections, and resource (e.g. crop) spoilage caused by bacteria, viruses and fungi. The Centre for Disease Prevention (CDC) has estimated that the yearly cost from antimicrobial resistance to healthcare alone is $55 billion in the US.

Whilst there is a strong emphasis on stewardship of antibiotics for the treatment of human infections, it is also evident that the current pipeline for the development of new antibiotics does not address the broader issues associated with antimicrobial resistance. One of the main factors that contributes towards antimicrobial resistance is the continued market investment in antibiotics that act on specific microbial target, encouraging microbial evolution into ever resistant organisms. Future generations of antimicrobial agents need to be designed to disrupt multiple cellular functions that prevent microbes from adapting to their mechanisms of action.

The Applied Chemistry and Translational Biomaterials (ACTB) research group, in UniSA’s CPI, has spearheaded the development of synthetic antimicrobial peptides that are highly effective against gram negative bacteria and immune to antimicrobial resistance as a result of their multimodal membrane disruption mechanisms. Building on this advancement, this project you will develop novel antimicrobial peptides-polymer hybrids, which can sense, shapeshift and adapt to their environment to maximise microbial membrane disruption and death.

CPI is made up of five large research groups with 40+ PhD students and a network for the incubation of ideas and new collaborative opportunities. You’ll be in the ACTB research group, working alongside a multidisciplinary team, gaining experience in organic, polymer and supramoleculer chemistry, and microbiology. The ACTB provides a supportive and intellectually stimulating environment with students and postdocs working on diverse projects with the underlying theme of controlled release and delivery systems.

What you’ll do

In this project-based research degree, you will collect and analyse data, using your qualitative and quantitative skills. Specifically, you will identify novel milk-derived peptide fragments that display activity against microbes, incorporate these peptides into antimicrobial peptides-polymer hybrids and assess antimicrobial peptides-polymer hybrid activity against microbes responsible for food/crop spoilage and human infections.

You will be a valued member of the ACTB Group, taking part in lab meetings, workshops, and research activities. You will also present your work at national and international conferences and may have the opportunity to travel. These activities will help hone your communication and networking skills.

Upon graduation, you will be equipped with in-demand skills and abilities in an important field of research.

Where you’ll be based

We are known for innovation, impact, and exceptional education. The Centre for Pharmaceutical Innovation (CPI) has a clear vision to become an internationally recognised pharmaceutical research enterprise. To deliver better medicines and prepare future pharmaceutical leaders to expertly respond to real-world needs.

It is our mission to transform medical possibilities into clinical realities. This is achieved through high quality education and efficacious industry collaboration. We partner with Australian and international organisations, research groups, government agencies and professional associations to deliver next-generation pharmaceutical solutions.

Supervisory team

Guru Angad Deve Veterinary and Animal Sciences University (GADVASU)
University of Melbourne
Financial Support

This project is funded for reasonable research expenses. A fee offset for the standard term of the program is available to Australian and New Zealand citizens, and permanent residents of Australia, including permanent humanitarian visa holders.  Additionally, any Australian Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander applicant who holds an offer of admission without a living allowance will be eligible for the Aboriginal Enterprise Research Scholarship. This scholarship is to the value of $50,291 per annum (2024 rates). Any Aboriginal Enterprise Research Scholarship recipient will also receive a fee waiver. Where an international applicant holds an external scholarship or sponsorship a full or partial fee waiver may apply in some circumstances for exceptional applicants.  Other international applicants will be required to pay full tuition fees of approximately AUD$39,600 per annum (2024 rates).

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 Master of Research or PhD. Additionally, applicants must meet the projects selection criteria:
  • A background and degree in chemistry, materials chemistry, pharmaceutical sciences or related science discipline. 
  • Practical experience in chemical synthesis, purification, isolation and analysis. 
  • A strong fundamental background in analytical techniques.
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 City West Campus in the heart of Adelaide. 

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 Thursday, 6 June, 2024.

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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