PhD Scholarship in Delivery of siRNA Using Nanoparticles

Undertake a project on nanoparticle-based delivery of small interfering RNA.

This project, which aims to drive our understanding of how lipid nanoparticles may be used to deliver siRNA, will suit candidates with an interest in interdisciplinary research combining chemistry, biology and nanomedicine.

A stipend of $31,000 per annum (pro rata), for 3 years with possible extension to 3.5 years.

Candidates with backgrounds in materials/chemistry/engineering are encouraged to apply.

To be eligible for this scholarship you must:

  • have first-class Honours or 2A Honours or equivalent, or a Masters by Research degree in a relevant discipline of engineering/science
  • be an Australian citizen, Australian permanent resident or an international student meeting the minimum English language requirements
  • provide evidence of good oral and written communication skills
  • demonstrate the ability to work as part of a multi-disciplinary research team
  • meet RMIT’s entry requirements for the Doctor of Philosophy.

To apply, please submit the following documents to Associate Professor Charlotte Conn via charlotte.conn@rmit.edu.au and Dr. Nhiem Tran via nhiem.tran@rmit.edu.au

  • a cover letter (research statement)
  • a copy of electronic academic transcripts
  • a CV that includes any publications/awards and the contact details of two referees.

For international applicants, evidence of English proficiency may be required.

Prospective candidates will be invited to submit a full application for admission to the PhD Program (DR229).

Scholarship applications will only be successful if prospective candidates are provided with an offer for admission.

23 September 2020.

23 November 2020 (unless previously filled).

RNA interference (RNAi) therapeutics is a fast growing field with potential to revolutionise the current treatments for significant diseases including cancer, autoimmune dysfunction, and various genetic disorders. This technology relies on the repression of disease proteins using small interfering RNAs (siRNA), which can be designed for a specific disease. In the cell cytoplasm, siRNA are incorporated into the RNA-induced silencing complex (RISC), which identifies and degrades the complementary messenger RNA that is responsible for protein production. However, since siRNA are large polyanionic molecules and are easily degraded by nuclease, they need to be transported through the cell membrane and released to cell cytoplasm where they effect the changes in cells. Lyotropic liquid crystalline lipid nanoparticles consisting of cationic lipids are promising delivery vehicles for siRNA. In excess water, lipid molecules self-assemble into nanoparticles with unique internal nanostructures. These materials have been studied as drug delivery vehicles due to their ability to incorporate both hydrophilic and lipophilic molecules.

This project aims to study the influences of physicochemical factors such as surface charge, critical packing parameter of lipid molecules, and membrane curvature on nanoparticles’ internal structures and their ability to encapsulate and release siRNA. Extensive nanoparticle characterisation will be performed using small angle x-ray scattering (SAXS), cryogenic transmission electron microscopy (cryo-TEM), and dynamic light scattering technique (DLS). In vitro cytotoxicity and gene knockdown experiments will be carried out.

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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.