PhD scholarship: New structural biology methods for proteins with applications in drug discovery and disease


Enrolment status New students
Student type Domestic students
Level of study Higher Degree by Research
Study area Science and Mathematics
HDR funding type Living stipend scholarship, Tuition Scholarship
Scholarship value $28,597 per annum (2021 rate), indexed annually
Scholarship duration 3.5 years with the possibility of 1 extension in line with UQ and RTP Scholarship Policy
Opening date 4 August 2021
Closing date 24 October 2021


Supervisor – Associate Professor Jeffrey Harmer

The project, led by Associate Professor Jeffrey Harmer and Professor Bostjan Kobe, aims to develop new tools to reveal the structure and dynamics of complex protein systems within their native environment by combining innovative biochemistry, new magnetic resonance spectroscopy and high performance computing. These tools will be applied to a selection of proteins involved in drug development (antibiotics) and disease (Streptococcus pneumoniae).

Key Objectives Encompass

  1. Development of new biochemistry technologies for site-specific tagging of proteins with paramagnetic labels, based on incorporation of non-natural amino acids.
  2. Electron Paramagnetic Resonance (EPR) methods will be applied to measure long-range distances (15-100Å) for structure determination
  3. New computational tools will be developed to interpret distance distribution data from EPR spectroscopy by meaningful structural models
  4. Methods developed in objectives 1-3 will be used to study protein systems that are targets of current pharmaceutical research (for e.g. drug development and disease).

The candidate will be responsible for protein production (in collaboration with our ANU partner), spin labelling of protein, development of EPR methodologies (e.g., DEER and RIDME) and EPR data acquisition. These data will be incorporated into molecular modelling software to understand the protein’s structure, dynamics, and function.

The candidate should demonstrate skills in biochemistry, chemistry or molecular biology sufficient to produce and spin label protein. Demonstrated skills in biophysically methods would be an advantage (e.g., physical chemistry, physics, mathematics). An ability to work in a collaborative multi-disciplinary research team will be required by the successful applicant.

The project is funded by the Australian Research Council and is a collaboration between the University of Queensland and the Australian National University (ANU) (Professor Thomas Huber).

A working knowledge of protein production (mutagenesis, expression, etc) and NMR or EPR spectroscopy would be of benefit to someone working on this project.

School of Biomedical Sciences

The School of Biomedical Sciences is a distinguished centre for research and teaching in the academic disciplines of Anatomy, Developmental Biology, Neuroscience, Physiology, Pharmacology, and Pathology. The School has over 40 full-time research and teaching staff, and is one of the largest Schools of this type in Australia. Our diverse and state-of-the-art research provides an exciting environment for national and international research fellows and higher degree students.

Centre for Advanced Imaging

The Centre for Advanced Imaging (CAI) was created in 2009 as a strategic initiative of The University of Queensland (UQ) and reflects the growing role of spectroscopy and imaging in cutting-edge biotechnology and biomedical research at UQ. The CAI has state-of-the-art facilities including the largest EPR facility in the country. The facilities in the CAI provide an excellent environment for our research community (structural biology, system biology, polymer chemistry, radiochemistry and advanced imaging)


To be eligible, you must meet the entry requirements for a higher degree by research.

This scholarship is open to Australian citizens, permanent residents and International students who are currently in Australia at the time of application and commencement.

Applications are closed.

Before you get started

If this scholarship has rules, download and read them.

How to apply

To apply for admission and scholarship, follow this link. There is no separate application for scholarship because you will have the opportunity to request scholarship consideration on the application for admission.

Before submitting an application you should:

When you apply, please ensure that under the scholarships and collaborative study section you:

  1. Select ‘My higher degree is not collaborative’
  2. Select 'I am applying for, or have been awarded a scholarship or sponsorship'.
  3. Select ‘Other’, then ‘Research Project Scholarship’ and type in ‘PROTEINS-HARMER’ in the 'Name of scholarship' field.

See an example of what you have to do

Learn more about applying for a higher degree by research at UQ

Selection criteria

Applications will be judged on a competitive basis taking into account the applicant’s previous academic record, publication record, honours and awards, and employment history.

The applicant will demonstrate academic achievement in the field/s of biochemistry, chemistry, or molecular biology and the potential for scholastic success.

A background or knowledge of biophysics, physics or mathematics is highly desirable.

Applications are closed.


Associate Professor Jeffrey Harmer
+61 7 3346 0351
Applications are closed.

Terms and conditions

Read the policy on UQ Research Scholarships.

A domestic part-time student with carer’s responsibilities, a medical condition or a disability, which prevents them from studying full time may be eligible for scholarship consideration, on a case by case basis.

Applications are closed.