Applications are open for a PhD scholarship in Role of mechanical forces in asthma pathogenesis, working in the Priority Research Centre for Asthma and Respirat

PhD Scholarship - Role of mechanical forces in asthma pathogenesis

30 July 2014

Applications are open for a PhD scholarship at the University of Newcastle. As the successful applicant you will undertake your doctoral studies in the Priority Research Centre for Asthma and Respiratory Disease at the Hunter Medical Research Institute in Newcastle.

The group you will be working with is composed of a dynamic and enthusiastic combination of clinical and laboratory based scientists each of who has an outstanding research track record and exceptional facilities available to them. The team consists of A/Prof Chris Grainge, Professor Darryl Knight, and Dr Fatemeh Moheimani.

The project will investigate the role that mechanical forces play in the development and progression of lung disease, focusing specifically on asthma. Asthma is a chronic lung disease caused by airway narrowing, resulting in symptoms of shortness of breath and wheeze. In addition to the acute airway narrowing in asthma, long term changes in the airway, called airway remodelling, make asthma treatment difficult. We recently demonstrated that airway narrowing induces airway remodelling in asthma and we wish to understand the mechanisms behind this in more detail.

We hypothesise that mechanical forces induced at the airway epithelium during airway narrowing in asthma are mechanobiological cues that lead to alterations in the molecular structure, composition and mechanical properties of the extracellular matrix and also induce epigenetic changes in epithelial cells.

We wish to answer the following questions;

  1. Does the respiratory epithelium react similarly to mechanical apical compression and airflow generated shear stress; is this different in asthma?
  2. What are the mechanisms underlying the remodelling responses of the respiratory epithelium to mechanical forces and are these altered in asthma?
  3. Does mechanical stress alter the epigenetic status of epithelial cells in asthma or health?

This project will offer key insights into mechanisms that may play in important role in asthma. While it is now known that bronchoconstriction is actually a cause for further progression of the disease rather than a symptom alone, a key question is obviously how exactly bronchoconstriction can lead to chronic asthma. By using samples from healthy and asthmatic donors both exposed and not exposed to mechanical stress, you will be able to ascertain if there is a difference in the responses of epithelial and structural cells in health and disease.

Scholarship Description

The scholarship provides a 3 year full-time living allowance of $25,392 p.a. in 2014 (indexed annually), there may be additional funds available for an exceptional applicant.

Scholarship Eligibility 

This scholarship is available to International and Australian candidates.  Successful International candidates will also receive a matching 3 years full tuition fee scholarship and Overseas Health Cover.

Closing date - 31 October 2014


Interested applicants are advised to contact:
Associate Professor Chris Grainge
Phone: +61 2 4921 3470