Job:PhD Scholarship in Bioinformatics to study Ankylosing Spondylitis, Brisbane Australia
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9.7 years ago
Elena ▴ 90

Job no: 496200
Area: UQ Diamantina Institute
Salary (FTE): Research Scholar BAND
Work type: Full Time - Fixed Term, Full Time - Scholarship
Location: Brisbane

The University of Queensland Diamantina Institute was established in 2007 as the sixth research institute of The University of Queensland. The aim of the Institute is to develop a better understanding of the molecular and cellular basis of disease, and to translate that understanding into practical outcomes for patients. Based at the Translational Research Institute (TRI) at the Princess Alexandra Hospital teaching campus in Brisbane, the Institute has almost 270 researchers and students who work closely with clinicians in the areas of cancer, immunology and genomic medicine. UQDI is the largest partner in TRI, and is building major programs in Immunology, Cancer and Genomic Medicine research, with a particular focus on research aimed at development of new treatments.

The Project

Ankylosing spondylitis (AS) is a common inflammatory auto-immune arthritis. The condition primarily affects the spine and sacroiliac joints of the pelvis, causing pain and stiffness and eventual fusion. AS sufferers experience significant physical and psychological pain, decreased quality of life and reduced lifespan. Early diagnosis of AS is difficult since Xrays of the spine typically don't show characteristic changes at disease onset. Ideally the disease should be diagnosed before the development of irreversible changes. This is particularly important since early diagnosis can dramatically improve clinical prognosis if treatment is commenced early. The goal of this project is to identify causal and diagnostic molecular biomarkers that can be used to assist in the diagnosis of AS and to help understand how the disease develops. The successful student can expect to gain training in the analysis and interpretation of genome-wide and next generation sequencing data, as well as the analysis of expression, methylation and metabolomics data. The student will also receive training in statistical genetics methodology and bioinformatics.

The Statistical Genetics group at the University of Queensland Diamantina Institute aims to understand the genetic basis of common complex traits and diseases and develop statistical methodology to better accomplish this task. Although we conduct work across a wide range of diseases and phenotypes, we have a particular focus on osteoporosis, inflammatory arthritis (ankylosing spondylitis), and atopic dermatitis (eczema). We have excellent international collaborations with some of the world's premier cohorts and gene mapping consortia including ALSPAC (10,000 mothers and children with genome-wide association and next generation sequencing data, genome-wide transcriptomic, methylation and metabomic data, and over twenty years of longitudinal phenotype data), IGAS (>10,000 individuals with Ankylosing Spondylitis and genome-wide SNP data), GEFOS (>32,000 individuals with bone mineral density measures and genome-wide next generation sequencing and SNP data), and the EAGLE eczema consortium (>20,000 individuals with atopic dermatitis and genome-wide SNP data) meaning that our students have plenty of data to analyze. Our group has considerable expertise in the analysis of next generation sequencing data, genome-wide association, Mendelian Randomization, structural equation modelling, multi-level modelling and a variety of other statistical methods that are useful for genetics research.

The Person

A PhD is about learning new skills and learning how to do research. We recognise that students will come to us from different backgrounds in order to learn these new skills. Projects are fundamentally quantitative and computer-based, so evidence of quantitative aptitude is essential. The candidate will have a 1st Class Honours degree or equivalent in science. We will consider students from a wide range of backgrounds including, but not limited to: genetics, maths, statistics, epidemiology, computer science, bioinformatics, molecular biology, psychology, and physics.

International applicants must meet the University's English language proficiency requirements.


The base stipend for either award will be at the rate of AUD$25,392 tax-free (2014 rate) for three years with the possibility of a six month extension in approved circumstances.


Please send enquiries to Professor David Evans ( Enquiries can be received at any time. Start dates are throughout the year with the University allowing registrations commencing Jan 1, April 1, July 1 or Oct 1 each year.

For information about applying for a scholarship and for the full terms and conditions, please visit the UQ Graduate School website at

To submit an application for this role, go to and use the Apply button below. All applicants must supply the following documents: Cover letter, CV/Resume and Academic Records (indicating GPA scores/grades).

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