Charles Sturt University
Charles Sturt University


The following research opportunities are being provided by the School of Biomedical of Sciences.

Contact Research Topic
Dr Phillip Bwititi

Cardiovascular diseases - Pre-diabetes, undiagnosed diabetes and cardiovascular risk assessment; How haemorheology is impacted upon in metabolic syndrome
Oxidative stress - How the various oxidative stress markers are associated with disease
Technology and staffing in clinical biochemistry - Impact of changing technology on staffing, organisation and training in clinical biochemistry in Australia

Dr Chris Blanchard Functional properties of pulses; Functional properties of cereals; GxE effects on rice quality. New uses of canola meal

Matthew Caffey, Sonja Maria and Lyle Brewster

Anti-emetic management preferences for paramedic providers in Australasia
Mike Cahill & Jalal Jazayeri Investigations into the cancer-relevant cell biology of the multi-functional protein Progesterone Receptor Membrane Component 1 (PGRMC1)
Dr Kenneth Chinkwo

This project studies cancer development, to regulate its growth by targeting the receptors present on the membrane of cancer cell such as GPCRs. GPCR (G-Protein Coupled Receptors) are cell membrane bound receptor proteins, which are involved in the cell signalling and transduction pathway. About 50% of all pharmaceutical drugs target GPCRs to provide a therapeutic effect, and therefore these receptors are huge targets for cancer therapeutics.

Dr Andrea Crampton Science education; Drinking water quality; Public health communication; Molecular parasitology; Molecular microbiology; Science Education
Professor Jade Forwood

Drug design for multi-drug resistant bacteria : Bacterial antibiotic resistance represents a serious public health concern, threatening both the loss of effective treatment options for infectious diseases, and undermining many of the most recent advances in medicine including organ transplants, cancer therapy, and a range chronic diseases. The Centre for Disease Control and Prevention in the US provided a comprehensive snapshot of the burden and threats posed by antibiotic-resistant bacteria according to impact on human health, and ranked the most dangerous drug resistant pathogens. We are currently designing inhibitors towards bacteria listed in the most urgent category.

The fatty acid synthesis type II (FASII) enzymes, responsible for lipid biogenesis, are essential in most bacteria, contain no mammalian homologues, and represent an attractive target for the discovery of new antimicrobial agents. An exciting outcome of our recent work has been the structural determination of all four enzymes involved in the FASII lipid elongation pathway. Two of the enzymes in this pathway, FabG and FabI, are inhibited by epigallocatechin gallate (EGCG) and we have also recently determined the first structure of this inhibitor bound to FabI, enabling the design of new drug molecules towards these enzymes.

This research project will utilise the structural information obtained from FabG, FabI, and FabI:EGCG/cofactor complexes to optimise EGCG based inhibitors that specifically target both reductases of the FASII pathway. This will provide a strong platform for the development of future therapies, and will greatly reduce the chance of drug resistance occurring from single gene mutations since both enzymes catalyse distinct and essential reactions of the FASII pathway. Using our optimised conditions for expression, purification and crystallisation, and fully refined models for the structures of these enzymes, together with a large suite of clinically isolated multi-drug and extended-drug resistance strains to test inhibitor efficacy, this approach represents a novel and highly feasible strategy towards the development of new and urgently needed inhibitors. Collaborations involve researchers at UNSW, World Health Organisation, and Uni of Adelaide.

Structural elucidation of the Dengue virus complexes to provide new inhibitor targets: Dengue virus (DENV) is a rapidly spreading arthropod-borne pathogen, threatening ~40% of the world's population. Readily capable of causing mortality, DENV currently has no form of antiviral treatment. Preventative methods such as vaccines are unavailable due to the required longevity of a broad spectrum anti-dengue immune response with vector control mechanisms currently incapable of making a substantial impact on the mosquito vector population. Over the past decade, a highly conserved protein across the flavivirus genus, non-structural protein five (NS5), has received significant attention in both a functional and structural capacity. With a range of new functions, binding partners and structural features identified, the approach for targeted therapy has become more informed, increasing the feasibility of finding a promising antiviral compound whilst also providing an enhanced understanding of the biology involved in DENV replication. In this project we will determine structures of NS5 protein in complexes with host proteins that mediate its function to provide a strong platform to design small molecule inhibitors. Collaborations involve researchers at Monash and Duke Medical School, Singapore.

Novel molecular aspects of inflammation: This project may involve one week of laboratory research to be undertaken at the University of Queensland under Prof Bostjan Kobe, depending on progress. We have recently determined the structure and function of a hydrolase enzyme (ACOT7) (Forwood et al., PNAS). This enzyme was shown to have novel functions relating to inflammation and found to be upregulated in macrophages. We have developed efficient protocols for expression and purification of this enzyme in E. coli, and this project would involve protein expression, purification, and performing various activity assays to test how this enzyme is regulated. This would be the first time these studies has been performed and would represent a significant contribution to cell biology and be publishable within a high impact international journal. This is an ideal project for a student wishing to become well versed in a wide range of biochemistry and molecular biology techniques.

Design of inhibitors against animal circoviruses: Circoviruses are amongst the smallest viruses known to cause infection. Their genomes encode only 2-3 proteins, yet infect a very wide range of species. These viruses are thought to have only very recently evolved from plants. The aim of this project is understand how these viruses infect such a diverse range of species, and design inhibitor molecules to prevent replication. The types of areas that circoviruses have particularly devastating impact is within the pig industry (Porcine circovirus), endangered native birds (Beak and Feather disease circovirus), and in the poultry industry (chicken anaemia virus). There are also circoviruses infecting dogs, bats, and fish.

Design of inhibitors against plant viruses: Plant viruses are not as well understood as animal viruses however have major impacts in crop productions. The Tobacco mosaic virus (TMV) and other viruses cause ~ US$60 billion loss in crop yields worldwide each year. We are interested in characterising some of these novel plant viruses and designing small molecule inhibitors.

Dr Jalal JazayeriMolecular Microbiology: Characterisation of the virulence factors in the Australian Epidemic Strains (AES) of Pseudomonas aeruginosa; Molecular genotyping of the P.aeruginosa strains isolated from cystic fibrosis patients; Cloning and characterisation of 5'untranslated region (5'UTR) of the P.aeruginosa elastase (LasB) promoter region.
Molecular Immunology: Role of cytokines in Inflammation; Rheumatoid arthritis (RA) and Osteoarthritis (OA) affect thousands of Australian each year and they are the leading causes of lost productivity in the work place. Over production of pro-inflammatory cytokines and cartilage degradation by enzymes known as matrix metalloproteinases (MMPs) are major contributing factors in both of these diseases. In this study we will investigate the role of two pro inflammatory cytokines; Leukaemia Inhibitory Factor (LIF) and Oncostatin M (OSM), as well as   a range of MMPs  in articular cartilage degradation and RA pathogenesis. The aim of this project is to use modern techniques of antibody engineering to develop novel protein-based therapeutics (Bio-drugs) to diminish the destructive effects of these two cytokines and the selected MMPs.
Does Hereditary Haemochromatosis (HH) cause osteoarthritis?: Hereditary Haemochromatosis (HH) is a genetic disease that causes the body to absorb and store too much iron.  We get iron from our diet, and normally the body absorbs approximately 10% of the iron found in foods. People with haemochromatosis absorb double that amount. Once absorbed, the excess iron doesn't leave the body. Instead, it is stored in synovium (a lining tissue in joints) and in major organs such as the liver, heart, brain, pancreas, and lungs .  The aim of this projects is  to examine the effect of Ferritin on the expression and production of a diverse range of pro-inflammatory and "chondro-catabolic" cytokines (e.g. IL-1, IL-6 and TNF) and matrix metalloproteinases (MMPs, e.g. MMP1, MMP3, MMP13) in a human chondrocyte cell line with normal HFE expression and also mutant HFE gene expression.  This project is  in collaboration with a range of other research groups in Australia and overseas.
Dr Philip Kerr Antimicrobial activity of Fijian medicinal plants, anti-oxidant properties of some Australian plants used in flavouring foods, anti-diabetic plants in Traditional Aboriginal medicines, ethnoveterinary medicines derived from Australian native plants, studies in the phytochemistry of the Goodeniaceae, the use of Australian plants in the treatment of skin cancers  Allelopathy and ecological prospects using Australian plants, investigations into the chemistry and pharmacology of Codonocarpus cotinifolius, transdermal permeation of natural products of potential medicinal importance, screening of Australian native plants for antimicrobial activity using TLC-bioautography
Dr Ann Lazarsfeld-Jensen Exploring the use of companion animals as alternative therapy among prison inmates, the aged and disabled children. Other research opportunities include the social and cultural dimensions of altruistic work, moral distress and attrition in altruistic work.
Dr Patricia Logan Tertiary science education; medical imaging diagnostic studies, particularly Nuclear Medicine but not exclusively; transitioning from professional practice to academia.
Dr Rhett McClean Mammalian gamete form and function; Sperm-egg interactions and fertilisation; Cryopreservation of sperm, oocytes and embryos;          Reproductive technologies (e.g. IVF, ISCI, GIFT); Environmental effects on sperm production and quality ; Wildlife reproduction;           Histology; electron microscopy
Dr Sokcheon Pak A comprehensive series of clinical and experimental studies that addresses the full spectrum of complementary medicine
Cesidio Parissi Exploring the connections and possible interactions between Indigenous science and Western science. Examining the experiences of students undertaking Indigenous immersion subjects. Problem Based Learning and its praxis: connecting PBL and Workplace Learning. Community engagement and organisational change: moving towards a sustainable society and global integrity. 
John Rae Creativity of health services; Arts based research.
Dr Heather Robinson Pharmacy practice and quality use of medicines, for example, medication dispensing error and drug utilisation assessment.
Dr Chris Scott Research in neuroendocrinology (brain control of hormones/hormonal control of brain function), especially related to reproduction/sex hormones. A range of animal models/species used.
Dr Glenys Noble  and Dr Brian SpurrellDetermining forces generated by a padded whip and impacts on the horse
This research is to measure the force generated by a padded and a non-padded whip, in a laboratory setting and in a simulated racing situation.  This work will also compare the force generated by a padded whip with other types of contact or pressure exerted on a horse and/or a pain threshold.  To evaluate methods aimed at determining changes in pain threshold after the use of the whip and determine pain sensitivity in different areas where the whip may be applied and measure the effect the use of the whip has on maintaining speed, time to run to fatigue and  locomotion responses of the horse to the application of a padded whip compared with using no whip.
Pip Southwell Research into improving quality of life in end-stage Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD) as well as education-based research in effective teaching strategies in distance education and Problem-based Learning.
Dr Thiru Vanniasinkam

Epidemiology of Campylobacter jejuni, Viral vector based vaccine development for Campylobacter jejuni and Prescottella equi, medical and veterinary microbiology.

Dr Lexin Wang Stem cell therapies for cardiovascular disease; endoscopic repair of congenital heart disease; risk assessment and management of hypertension and coronary heart disease

Top of page