PhD Scholarship in Blood Diagnostics

Updated: about 1 year ago
Location: Brisbane, QUEENSLAND
Job Type: FullTime
Deadline: 31 Oct 2017

The Australian Institute for Bioengineering and Nanotechnology

PhD Scholarship in Blood Diagnostics - Development of antibodies against human neutrophil antigens

The University of Queensland's Australian Institute for Bioengineering and Nanotechnology (AIBN) is a dynamic multi-disciplinary research institute dedicated to developing technology to alleviate societal problems in the areas of health, energy, manufacturing and environmental sustainability. AIBN brings together the skills of more than 250 world-class researchers complimented by an extensive suite of integrated facilities, working at the intersection of biology, chemistry, engineering and computer modelling. With a reputation for delivering translational science, AIBN conducts research at the forefront of emerging technologies, and has developed strong collaborations with leading members of industry, academia and government. AIBN goes beyond basic research to develop the growth of innovative industries for the benefit of the Queensland and Australian economies.

Information about the Institute can be accessed on the Institute’s web site at .

The ARC Training Centre for Biopharmaceutical Innovation (CBI), located within the AIBN is enhancing Australia’s biopharmaceutical capabilities through dedicated research and development programs with leading industrial partners. The Centre conducts research in three thematic areas:  new biopharmaceutical and diagnostic agent discovery; development of mammalian cells as factories for recombinant protein production; and advanced manufacturing of biopharmaceuticals. The CBI is supported by industry partners CSL Limited, GE Healthcare, the Australian Red Cross Blood Service (ARCBS) and Patheon Biologics Australia Pty Ltd.

As a condition of the ARC Industrial Transformation Training Centre funding scheme, students will spend periods of time at the ARCBS Research Laboratories at Kelvin Grove, Brisbane that total at least 12 months over a four year period. 

The project

Development of antibodies against human neutrophil antigens

This project will be offered in collaboration with CBI partner the Australian Red Cross Blood Service.

Human neutrophil antigens (HNAs) are a group of 5 glycoproteins that are expressed on human neutrophils, and in some cases, also on other cells and tissues. Antibodies against HNAs have been implicated in cases of alloimmune neonatal neutropenias, autoimmune neutropenias, febrile transfusion reactions and transfusion-related acute lung injury (TRALI). Global data shows that TRALI is one of the leading causes of transfusion-related morbidity and mortality.

The availability of monoclonal antibodies (mAbs) to HNAs permits the use of solid phase assays to detect antibodies specific to these antigens. While mAbs against HNA-1, HNA-2, HNA-4 and HNA-5 antigens are available, there are not yet any mAbs available for HNA-3.

This project aims to develop mAbs against the two alleles of HNA-3 that can then be used to develop cell-based assays to detect anti-HNA-3a and anti-HNA-3b antibodies in blood donors. Furthermore, this project aims to use the anti-HNA-3 mAbs in existing in vitro transfusion models to help understand why cases of TRALI associated with anti-HNA-3a antibodies are particularly severe. This is important in the invesitgation of clinical cases of TRALI and in the management of donors associated with TRALI cases (donors with anti-HNA antibodies are deferred from future donation because of the risk of causing further TRALI cases).

The successful candidates will receive systematic training in cell biology relating to blood cells, red cell biomarker identification, isolation of monoclonal antibodies (mAbs) that bind red cell biomarkers and development of diagnostic tests for blood cell markers.  These tests are based on monoclonal antibodies, which may also have application as biopharmaceuticals for the treatment of disease. The candidate will be housed in an excellent research environment with the latest laboratory facilities for antibody discovery and red blood cell analysis.

The persons

A PhD is about learning new skills, how to do research, and becoming an independent researcher. We recognise that students will come to us from different backgrounds in order to learn these new skills and we welcome interest from domestic (i.e. Australian and New Zealand) students and international students.

Applicants will meet the requirements of admission to a Research Higher Degree at UQ, as described at . This includes evidence of one of the following with a background in cell biology, molecular biology or protein chemistry:

  • A bachelor's degree with honours class IIA or better from approved universities, which should include a relevant research component.
  • A research master's degree.
  • A coursework master's degree and an overall GPA (grade point average) equivalent to 5.65 on the 7-point UQ scale, which should include a relevant research component.
  • A postgraduate degree of at least one year full-time equivalent with an overall GPA (grade point average) equivalent to 5.0 on the 7-point UQ scale, together with demonstrated research experience equivalent to honours IIA will be considered for PhD entry on a case by case basis.
  • A bachelor's degree plus at least two years of documented relevant research experience, including research publications.

English language proficiency requirements apply.

Mandatory requirements for international applicants:

1. At least 2 high quality research publications;

2. Excellent academic performance evidenced by a high Grade Point Average (GPA); and

3. International applicants must meet the University of Queensland's English Language Proficiency (ELP) requirements, detailed at

Commencement Date

The successful candidate will be expected to commence their candidature in April 2018.


The base stipend will be at the rate of AUD $26,682 per annum (2017 rate) tax-free for three years with two possible six month extensions in approved circumstances.


To discuss this role please contact Dr Martina Jones via email .  

To apply for this role please use the Apply button below.


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