Study As
Full Time

Principal Supervisor
Dr Paul Joyce

Main Campus
City West

Applications Close
30 May 2024

Study Level
PhD or Master of Research

Applications Open To
Domestic Candidate

Tuition Fees:

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

Project Stipend:
$32,500 p.a. (2024 rates) available to domestic applicants only

About this project

Help develop novel methods of increasing microbiome diversity 

If you are seeking to accelerate your career in microbiology and excited about contributing to contemporary understanding of gut function, the University of South Australia – Australia’s University of Enterprise – is offering a hands-on project-based PhD within Centre for Pharmaceutical Innovation (CPI), in partnership with Pharmako Biotechnologies. 

New understanding relating to the role of the gut microbiome in regulating host health has led to a rapid expansion in the consumption of probiotics – strains of live bacteria that are predicted to increase microbiome diversity.  

However, probiotic supplements exert little-to-no impact on microbial diversity in healthy individuals because they are insufficient to trigger compositional shifts in a microbial ecosystem that is comprised of 1000+ species.  
Through a pilot study supported by our industry partner, Pharmako Biotechnologies, novel hybrid biomaterials were engineered to specifically interact with gut digestive processes and bacterial populations for regulation of microbial diversity through a multifunctional mechanism of action.  

The patented hybrid material is comprised of a dietary fibre (inulin), which acts as a fermentable energy source for native gut bacteria, and a porous inorganic material (montmorillonite) that actively interacts with fat and carbohydrate digestion processes to limit their detrimental effects on the microbial ecosystem.  

Combining these bioactive materials within a hybrid formulation triggers a greater change in gut microbiome diversity compared to a physical mix of the two precursor materials.  
Our new project will progress the positive pilot data by optimally engineering and characterising a platform of hybrid biomaterials with unique structures and compositions for effective modulation of the gut microbiome.  
The outcomes of this project will generate fundamental new scientific knowledge in biomaterial engineering research. 

You will become part of CPI, joining a collegial and supportive group of senior and early career researchers. With access to world-class facilities and resources, and mentorship from thought leaders in their fields, upon graduation you’ll be well equipped to pursue a career in academia, industry or government. Experience working with our industry partner on real-world problems will also give you an enviable edge over other graduates.  

What you’ll do 

In this project-based research degree, you will assist with engineering and characterising next-generation hybrid biomaterials with functional structures and compositions through the process of spray drying.  

You will also help establish structure-activity relationships for the hybrid biomaterials using advanced in vitro models of GI digestion. We will guide you in evaluating the capacity for hybrid biomaterials to effectively shift gut microbiome composition using a small animal model. 

Upon project completion, you will have a suite of in-demand skills and experiences that will position you well post-graduation.  

Where you’ll be based 

You will be based in CPI. We are known for innovation, impact, and exceptional education. We have 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

The University of Adelaide
Pharmako Biotechnologies
Financial Support

This project is funded for reasonable research expenses. Additionally, a living allowance scholarship of $32,500 per annum is available to Australian and New Zealand citizens, and permanent residents of Australia, including permanent humanitarian visa holders.  Australian Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander applicants will be eligible to receive an increased stipend rate of $50,291 per annum (2024 rate maximum RTP rate). 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. International applicants are not invited to apply at this time.

Eligibility and Selection

This project is open to applications from Australian or New Zealand citizens, and Australian permanent residents or permanent humanitarian visa holders. International applicants are not invited to apply at this time.

Applicants must meet the eligibility criteria for entrance into a Master of Research or PhD. Additionally, applicants must address the following criteria:
  • A relevant undergraduate degree in Pharmaceutical Science, Pharmacy, Nanotechnology, Biomedical Science, Medical Science, or similar. 
  • Strong written and verbal communication skills

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, 30 May, 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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