Bioinformatics analysis of tertiary phase glia in preterm brain injury

This project will apply biostatistical analysis to RNAseq data to undercover novel roles for microglia and astrocytes in brain injury occurring in preterm born infants.

Permanent brain injury in babies can result from exposure to an inflammatory insult combined with being born preterm (<37 of 40 weeks’ gestation). Over their lifetime, these infants frequently struggle in academic and social settings due to cognitive and social deficits linked to their brain injuries. It is known that the cellular reactivity, termed the tertiary phase of injury persists into childhood and adolescence after early brain injury and is also observed after multiple other forms of brain injury. These changes involve dysfunction of astrocytes and microglia and they sensitise the brain to further injury. By identifying these changes creates opportunities for novel therapeutic development. This project will add to this field of research by identifying the signature of injury in a mouse model of preterm inflammatory brain injury.

The student will be involved in isolation of glia from our mouse model of inflammatory preterm brain injury and then the bioinformatic analyses of novel RNA-seq data for cell-specific and temporal changes and the integration of existing data. Network exploration for pathway involvement in known pathways of cell function regulation will be key in identifying the nature of the changes. The identified glial signature will be validated at gene and protein levels in the lab to confirm and validate findings.

Project attached to a NHMRC funded grant, normal RMIT PhD Scholarship terms and conditions.

Available now. 

1st July 2023

Standard RMIT conditions including English requirements, and either a Honours degree with a H1 grade,  or equivalent industry or academic experience. Please get in touch to discuss.

Please email Alice.Johnstone@rmit.edu.au to discuss the project.

The preferred PhD candidate will have completed an Honours or Masters in bioinformatics, biostatistics, molecular biology, computer science, or a related discipline, and have a keen interest in neurobiology and development. They will work closely with Dr Alice Johnstone, supported by Dr Fleiss and a laboratory technician.

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Acknowledgement of Country

RMIT University acknowledges the people of the Woi wurrung and Boon wurrung language groups of the eastern Kulin Nation on whose unceded lands we conduct the business of the University. RMIT University respectfully acknowledges their Ancestors and Elders, past and present. RMIT also acknowledges the Traditional Custodians and their Ancestors of the lands and waters across Australia where we conduct our business - Artwork 'Luwaytini' by Mark Cleaver, Palawa.