14 Mar 2015

PhD Scholarship Opportunity: Developmental Biology and Genetics - closing date 15 May 2015

PhD Scholarship Opportunity: Developmental Biology and Genetics
Faculty / Portfolio:    Faculty of Medicine, Nursing and Health Sciences, Central Clinical School
Location:   AMREP (Alfred Hospital), Monash University
Supervisors:  Dr Sebastian Dworkin and Professor Stephen Jane
Remuneration:  $25,849 per annum full-time rate (tax-free stipend) for three years (at current APA rates)
Closing date: 15 May 2015
See detail below:

The Opportunity:

A PhD scholarship, equivalent to an Australian Postgraduate Award, is available to examine the role of the highly conserved Grainyhead-like transcription factor family in craniofacial development and gastrulation. The Scholarship is provided by an Australian Research Council (ARC) Discovery Early Career Award (DECRA) received by Dr Sebastian Dworkin (2014-2016) entitled "Unravelling the holistic genetic control of embryogenesis".

Abnormalities in the formation of the facial skeleton (collectively termed craniofacial defects; CFD) are among the most common and debilitating congenital abnormalities. Broadly defined as any defect which affects the face and/or skull, craniofacial defects cause severe functional, psychological and social trauma. Although the aetiology of the vast majority of these defects is unknown, both genetic and environmental factors (such as folic acid deprivation, maternal obesity or alcohol intake) greatly increase the risk of developing CFD. Therefore, by understanding the genetic pathways and gene-environment interactions involved in the aetiology of CFD, we can not only better understand the causes of birth defects, but importantly, start to design both preventative and diagnostic therapies to reduce their severity and significant health burden. Our studies show that a highly conserved gene family, the Grainy head-like (Grhl) transcription factors, regulates patterning of the vertebrate craniofacial skeleton. Loss of family members Grhl2 (mouse), xGrhl2 (Xenopus) and zgrhl3 (zebrafish) leads to severe craniofacial defects, and recent data implicates this family in human disease as well, particularly the disorder Van der Woude Syndrome, characterised by cleft palate.

This project will investigate the upstream regulation, and downstream target genes, of this critical transcription factor family in the regulation of craniofacial development, using mouse, zebrafish and cell culture technologies.

See more about the lab at:

The PhD Scholarship aims to:

•    Identify and characterise the nature of signals regulating Grhl gene expression in vivo.
•    Determine whether sensitised mouse models are susceptible to developing craniofacial defects, or other congenital anomalies, following environmental insult.
•    Begin to identify key pathways in the aetiology of craniofacial and other birth defects, particularly those involving formation of the jaws.
Research Plan: These aims will be achieved using three methodologies:
1.  Novel and established mouse models of development
2.  Embryonic Stem Cell culture, tissue explant and biochemical in vitro experiments
3.  Large-scale unbiased ChIP-Seq and RNA-Seq experiments and bioinformatic analyses

Candidate Requirements:

Successful applicants will have excellent academic track records (both at University level and professionally) in Developmental Biology, Genetics or related disciplines.
Essential requirements:
•  Honours degree (Class 2A or better) in Development, Genetics or related discipline
•  Significant experience in laboratory-based research
•  Excellent written and communication skills
•  Demonstrated ability to both work independently and as part of a team
Desirable qualities:
•  Background in developmental and/or molecular biology
•  Experience with mouse and/or zebrafish model systems
Details of eligibility requirements to undertake a PhD in the Faculty of Medicine, Nursing and Health Sciences are available at:
http://med.monash.edu.au/pgrad/research/faculty admission and how to apply.html
Further information is also available herehttp://med.monash.edu.au/pgrad/research/index.html or contact the Monash University Institute of Graduate Research http://www.monash.edu.au/migr/

The scholarship will be awarded at the equivalent of current Australian Postgraduate Award rates. Scholarship holders must be enrolled full time.

Enquiries should be directed to:

Dr Sebastian Dworkin
Central Clinical School
Monash University
sebastian.dworkin@monash.edu

Submit an Expression of Interest (EOI):

Expressions of interest shall comprise the following:
•    A covering letter demonstrating suitability for the scholarship, including essential requirements and desirable qualities
•    Curriculum Vitae
•    Full academic transcript
•    Contact details of 2-3 academic or professional referees

Expressions of interest should be sent via email to:
Dr Sebastian Dworkin (sebastian.dworkin@monash.edu) or Prof. Stephen Jane (stephen.jane@monash.edu)
Central Clinical School
Monash University

Shortlisted candidates will be interviewed in the two weeks following closure date for receipt of EOIs. Video interviews may be considered if necessary.

Closing date for receipt of EOI's:

Friday 15 May 2015, 11:55 p.m. Australian Eastern Daylight Time
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