PhD Stipend Opportunity: Gene Therapy research alongside Associate Professor Deborah Young

03 March 2016
  • Generous PhD stipend of $27,500 per year for three years (along with university study fees).
  • Stipend offered in the area of gene therapy with world-renowned expert in gene therapy Associate Professor Deborah Young.
  • Funding obtained through a Marsden Grant. Applications are open until the 30th of April to all eligible students, so apply now. 

The ideal applicant 

An enthusiastic and motivated individual with a passion for neuroscience and the development and preclinical testing of new therapies. A neuroscience background is desired but not essential.


The successful applicant will have a cumulative GPA >6.5. They must also fulfil any additional criteria to be admitted into the PhD programme. See the Faculty of Medical and Health Sciences PhD requirements here.


Project objectives

The aim of this project is to refine and test the utility of this molecular switch system to regulate production of a therapeutic gene cocktail for treatment of Huntington's disease.

Stipend details 

  • $27,500 stipend each year for living costs (for a duration of three years). 
  • Stipend is tax free. 
  • The stipend covers University tuition fees for domestic PhD students.  


You will learn the following skills: 

  • Mammalian tissue culture and transfection methods.
  • Protein detection methods: Western blotting, immunohistochemistry, ELISA.
  • Rodent stereotaxic surgery and behavioural analysis.
  • Imaging and stereological cell counting.
Associate Professor Debbie Young
Associate Professor Debbie Young

Background: Gene Therapy  

Gene therapy is a promising treatment modality for neurological disorders as demonstrated by safety and in some cases, efficacy in early clinical trials. This technology is underpinned by the use of sophisticated gene delivery vehicles to mediate efficient transfer of a therapeutic gene (transgene) to the cell of interest in a specific brain region. Typically, the transgene is coupled to a constitutively active promoter that drives continuous, long-term production of therapeutic protein.

However, continuous, transgene expression is problematic for human applications because of the potential risk for side effects or toxicity caused by excessive therapeutic protein levels that non-discriminately affect both sick as well as healthy neurons.

We have developed a novel molecular switch that allows selection regulation of therapeutic gene expression in at-risk cells only. This project contributes to our program of research aimed at optimising gene therapy strategies for neurodegenerative disorders. 



Contact Associate Professor Deborah Young
Please submit:  Your updated CV and a statement of intent
Applications close:  30th April 2016