Study As
Full Time

Principal Supervisor
Dr Ibrahim Javed

Main Campus
City West

Applications Close
27 Sep 2023

Study Level

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:
$32,500 p.a. (Domestic only)

About this project

Improve the outcomes of those living with dementia 

If you are passionate about building a career in the pharmaceutical science industry and keen to improve quality of life for those living with dementia, the University of South Australia – Australia’s University of Enterprise – is offering a hands-on project-based PhD within Centre for Pharmaceutical Innovation (CPI). 

Gut bacteria have recently emerged as silent drivers of various extra-intestinal diseases such as cancer and dementia. Dementia is a progressive, neurodegenerative disease where a specific protein in the brain aggregates into long fibrils called amyloids. This process of aggregation is toxic to neurons and leads to the pathogenesis of dementia.  

Infectious enteric bacteria also make similar protein fibrils to support the underlying structure of their biofilms. Our research so far has demonstrated that protein fibrils from gut-bacteria can trigger early onset or accelerate the already ongoing pathogenesis of dementia by directly interacting with the protein-aggregation process in the brain. There is strong evidence that protein-fibrils of similar structure can make their way from the gut to the brain.  

Our project will focus on how gut bacteria can access the brain and participate in brain diseases. After establishing how this happens, the project will investigate and propose a new medicine design that can simultaneously target the disease pathology and keep the infectious gut bacteria from participating in extra-intestinal diseases. This approach will provide a strategy to prevent or at least slow down the progression of the disease and improve the quality of life for people living with dementia. 

You will study the mechanism of interaction between fibrillar aggregates of microbial origin and those formed in the brain and examine the trans-gastric propagation of microbial protein aggregates through different pathophysiological barriers such as gut-blood, blood-brain and the gut-enteric nervous system. You will also be involved in smart design of nanomedicine to mitigate the neurotoxicity in dementia and block the involvement of gut-bacteria in dementia. 

You will join the collegial cohort at the Centre for Pharmaceutical Innovation. You will benefit from access to world-renowned researchers and exposure to and training in cutting-edge biomolecular techniques. You’ll have access to high-end technology to study protein-protein and protein-cell interactions, imaging, tissue handling, biomolecular labelling and tracking.  

We will provide you with hands-on training, focused research development and approachable mentorship. The opportunity to work collaboratively and network with global leaders in the field within and outside Australia will give you valuable experience and the environment in which to grow as an independent research leader in the future. 

What you’ll do 

In this project-based research degree, you will be involved in research planning, experimentation, troubleshooting and problem-solving. You will develop an in-vitro and in-vivo experimental plan, and undertake histology and cell culture activities, imaging and spectroscopy, and data analysis and preparation. 

You will be mentored in grant writing and producing publications for academia and the community. We will encourage and support you to present your findings at conferences and participate in CPI research concentration activities such as research seminars, poster presentations and networking. 

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

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, permanent residents of Australia. 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 this group.  For full terms and benefits of the scholarship please refer to our scholarship information.  
International applicants will not be eligible to receive the scholarship.

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. Additionally, applicants must meet the projects selection criteria:  
  • An educational background in Pharmacy, Chemistry, Biochemistry, Biomedical science, Veterinary sciences, Microbiology or relevant fields.
  • Experience in cell culture, animal handling and laboratory techniques as demonstrated through a master’s degree, honours or work experience as a research assistant.

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 Wednesday, 27 September, 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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