PhD Scholarship - Investigating the molecular basis of lipid-mediated T cell immunity

Monash University
January 15, 2023
Offerd Salary:$31,927
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Contract Type:Other
Working Time:Full time
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PhD Scholarship - Investigating the molecular basis of lipid-mediated T

cell immunity

Job No.: 645086

Employment Type: Full-time

Duration: 3-year fixed-term appointment

Location: Clayton campus

Remuneration: The successful applicant will receive a tax-free stipend, at the current value of $31,927 per annum 2022 full-time rate, as per the Monash Research Training Program (RTP) Stipend www. scholarships/scholarships/find-a-scholarship/research-training-program- scholarship#scholarship-details

  • Be inspired, every day
  • Drive your own learning at one of the world's top 80 universities
  • Take your career in exciting, rewarding directions
  • A fully-funded PhD scholarship is available under the direct supervision of Dr Praveena Thirunavukkarasu within Profssor Jamie Rossjohn's laboratory to explore the molecular basis of the presentation of gut microbiome produced lipids and their subsequent recognition by T cells. Using a combination of cutting-edge technologies such as mass spectrometry, protein crystallography and cellular immunology this project will elucidate the molecular factors that govern the interaction between the novel lipids identified from the gut microbiome and a class of T cells known as Natural Killer T (NKT) cells. Emerging evidence suggests that the microbiome comprising a large number of symbiotic microbes plays a crucial role in shaping the mammalian host's T cell-mediated immune responses in the context of NKT cells. This innovative research will provide fundamental insights into the recognition mechanism of lipids by NKT cells at a molecular level using a structural biology approach, thus broadening our knowledge of lipid-mediated T cell immunity.

    Dr Praveena is an ARC DECRA Fellow (2023-2025) at the Monash Biomedicine Discovery Institute (BDI), with research focusing on lipid-mediated T cell immunity. Dr Praveena's international standing in the field of structural immunology is evidenced by her high-impact publications (such as Nature 2021, Science 2021, Nature Communications 2019 and PNAS 2018). Of particular importance are Dr Praveena's ground-breaking work published in the prestigious journal Nature that unravelled the mechanism by which lipids produced by a microbe Bacteroides fragilis residing in the gut are presented by immune cells that can be recognised by NKT cells, thus shaping the host's immune response.

    The successful candidate will learn and utilise a number of biochemistry and biophysical-based techniques including recombinant protein expression and purification, structural biology techniques such as X-ray crystallography, protein-protein interactions by Surface Plasmon Resonance, as well as various cellular immunology approaches. The Rossjohn lab is exceptionally well- equipped and funded and hosts many experienced researchers with expertise in diverse disciplines. During the course of the PhD, the successful candidate will have the opportunity to attend national and international conferences and local institute meetings to present their research.

    Eligibility Requirements

    Candidates will need to fulfil the Monash University minimum requirements for admission to a PhD detailed here:


    Candidates with a background in protein biochemistry, molecular biology, and/or structural biology with a strong interest in the research topic are encouraged to apply. Candidates should have, or are in the process of completing, an H1 honours degree or equivalent.

    The project is based in Melbourne, Australia. The candidate can commence the project in 2023; however alternative arrangements can be made.

    How to Apply

    To express your interest in this scholarship and PhD research opportunity, we request candidates provide:

  • A cover letter describing your research interests and why you would like to undertake a PhD (maximum one page)
  • A CV including qualifications, academic achievements, list of publications, work history and references
  • A copy of your academic transcript(s)
  • Enquiries

    Please submit your application via email to (and for administration enquires)

    Closing Date

    Sunday 15 January 2023, 11:55pm AEDT

    Please note: Monash University will be closed from Thursday 22 December 2022 until Monday 2 January 2023 inclusive

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