The University of Newcastle, Australia

Developing Alternative Treatments For Male Reproductive And Endocrine Disorders Using Deliverable Transgenics As Gene Therapy

Closing Date: 31 July 2020Apply Now

PhD Scholarship

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Androgens are crucial for male health and wellbeing. Over 20% of men over 40 experience hypogonadism (low circulating testosterone levels) resulting in impaired reproductive physiology, an increased risk of cardiovascular-metabolic diseases and earlier mortality. The causes of hypogonadism are multifactorial with both genetics and aging dramatically impacting Leydig cell function and number. Currently, treatment is limited to hormone replacement therapy; requiring expensive long term recurrent intervention and often inducing side effects with associated risks yet to be fully defined.

Therefore, the identification of new strategies for regulating endogenous steroidogenesis that are i) long-lasting, ii) under hypothalamic-pituitary-gonadal axis control and iii) address the multifactorial nature of hypogonadism, is crucial for maintaining male health throughout life.

This project focuses on the development of tools and technologies specifically targeting the cells of the testis. This project will provide insight into potential developments for the treatment of endocrine disorders such as hypogonadism as well as having implications for research both on male reproduction and on wider biological systems.

Project Summary Overview:

  1. Design and validate tools to target cells within the testis.
  2. Generate testis targeting tools for the delivery of gene editing technologies.
  3. Confirm delivery of gene editing technologies to specific testicular cell types.
  4. Utilise technology in proof of principle gene rescue experiments, demonstrating rescue of testis function following the delivery of testis cell targeting tools

Health/Wealth Benefits

Tackling a complex and multifactorial condition such as hypogonadism is expected to have a significant impact on chronic and age-related clinical conditions associated with this disorder including cardiovascular disease, diabetes, obesity and metabolic syndrome. Findings from the proposed project will be applicable to both animal and human research for the investigation of male reproductive disorders and will have wider implications within research for the in vitro and in vivo modelling of human endocrine disorders.

Approaches and Skills:

  • Development and investigation of transgenic mouse models
  • Analysis of testicular phenotypes
  • Use of gene editing technologies
  • Biochemistry techniques (Immunohistochemistry, western blotting)
  • Cell Culture (2D and potentially 3D cell culture, viral and non-viral transfections)
  • Molecular Biology (RNA/DNA/Protein extraction, PCR, qRT-PCR, Primer design and validation)
  • Cloning & vector constructions

PhD Scholarship details

Funding: $28,092 per annum (2020 rate) indexed annually. The living allowance scholarship is for 3.5 years and the tuition fee scholarship is for four years.

Supervisor: Professor Lee Smith

Available to: Domestic students


Eligibility Criteria

The candidate will join a growing multi-disciplinary team, consisting of experts in the field. Applicants should have a strong work ethic, self-motivation, developed communication and teamwork skills. We are seeking applications from individuals who have completed first class or second-class upper honours degree in a Biomedical Science or equivalent degree with laboratory experience.


Professor Lee Smith

Dr Annalucia Darbey

Application Procedure

Interested applicants should send an email expressing their interest along with scanned copies of their academic transcripts, CV, a brief statement of their research interests and a proposal that specifically links them to the research project.

Please send the email expressing interest to by 5pm on 31 July 2020.

Applications Close 31 July 2020 Apply Now

Contact Professor Lee Smith
Phone (02) 4921 5906

PhD and Research MastersFind out more