QBI offers summer and winter research programs for undergraduate students.

QBI’s Winter Research Program 2017

Learn new laboratory techniques in a world-class research environment.

Students fascinated and motivated by the potential of a research career in neuroscience are encouraged to apply for the Winter Research Program offered at the Queensland Brain Institute (QBI).

Applications open 6 March and close 3 April 2017


QBI will be accepting applications from students with excellent academic achievement and a desire to pursue a future in neuroscience research to spend a minimum of 4 weeks contributing to research projects currently underway in our laboratories. The program will begin on Monday 26 June, 2017 and run through to Friday 21 July, 2017.

Benefits

Undergraduate research at UQ provides a range of benefits, including:

  • Experience to test drive research before embarking on future research studies (eg. Honours) or higher degree research projects (eg. Masters, MPhil or PhD);
  • An opportunity to develop new academic and professional skills to enhance employability;
  • Access to develop links in research networks and connections with other staff and postgraduate students;
  • Supervision by outstanding researchers;
  • Access to world class facilities and experiences; and
  • A scholarship for qualifying students to receive an allowance of AUD$1000, paid jointly by QBI and the UQ Advantage Office.

Eligibility

To be eligible for the UQ Winter Research Program at QBI, students must:

  • Be currently enrolled in an undergraduate, honours or masters by coursework degree at UQ;
  • Have fully completed at least one year of full-time study at the time of application;
  • Be studying for a degree relevant to the research discipline;
  • Have a high level of academic achievement during their undergraduate degree;
  • Have the potential to and an interest in undertaking postgraduate study (masters, MPhil or PhD) and
  • Undertake the research program at QBI, located on the UQ St Lucia campus.

Students may be eligible to participate in the program and receive a scholarship more than once at the discretion of QBI. However, if the number of applicants exceeds available places and funding, preference will be given to first-time applicants.

Selection

Applications will be assessed by QBI and scholarships will be awarded on a competitive basis, taking into account:

  • The availability of projects and supervisors;
  • The academic merit of the applicant;
  • Reasons provided for wanting to participate in the program;
  • The quality of the project;
  • Available funding; and
  • Skills and attributes of applicants to meet project requirements.

Scholarship Support

All applicants will be automatically considered for a Winter Research Scholarship and those who qualify will receive funding of AUD$1000, paid jointly by QBI and the UQ Advantage Office. This Stipend will be paid as one lump sum, based on weekly participation in the program and no part-week payments will be made. Scholars must participate in the program for a minimum of 4 weeks to be eligible to receive a stipend.  No scholars are permitted to participate in the program in a voluntary capacity.

What will be my time commitment and obligations?

Scholars are expected to participate in an ongoing research project or to undertake a substantial piece of supervised research work. Where appropriate to the project, additional discipline-/project-specific obligations may also be required, such as training in research safety and ethics.

At QBI, it is expected that scholars will work on a full-time basis (up to 36 hours per week) during the 4-week program.

How to apply

Step 1 - Peruse the research projects listed below (when available) and choose one project from the list of available projects.

Step 2 – Check your eligibility.

Step 3 - Read through UQ Winter Research Program information, Guidelines for Scholars document, and Conditions of Participation contained at the UQ Advantage Office website:https://employability.uq.edu.au/winter-research

Step 4 – Email the relevant project contact person to discuss the topic, project duration and workload requirements, and your available commencement and completion dates (attach your detailed academic CV and academic transcripts to your email).  Note:  scholars are strongly encouraged to commence the program on Monday 26 June, 2017 to participate in the compulsory UQ Advantage Office Winter Research Welcome event and QBI student induction activities and requirements organised for that day including OHS training.

Step 5 – Submit an online application via the StudentHub and upload supporting documentation (CV, academic transcripts, supporting statement from a QBI supervisor) by Monday 3 April, 2017.  Please note that applicants can submit one application only, but can specify a second QBI project preference option on the Application Form, if desired.  Late or incomplete applications will not be considered.

All applicants will be notified if they will be invited to participate in the Program by Friday 12 May, 2017.

If you have any questions regarding the 2017 UQ Winter Research Program at QBI, please contact Ms Janet Voight, Research Higher Degree Manager, The Queensland Brain Institute, The University of Queensland, Brisbane Queensland, 4072 Australia, Email: qbistudents@uq.edu.au Phone: +61 7 3346 6401.

Available Projects

Project title:

Unveiling the intra- and inter-molecular steps underpinning vesicular priming during neuronal communication​

Project duration:

4 weeks

Description:

Nerve terminals and neurosecretory cells contain synaptic vesicles (SVs) and large dense core vesicles (LDCVs), respectively, that are filled with neurotransmitters and can undergo Ca2+-dependent fusion with the plasma membrane in response to stimulation. However, prior to fusion, these vesicles must be “primed” to become responsive to Ca2+ influx. Despite considerable effort focussed on elucidating the mechanism of vesicular fusion, the way in which these vesicles become fusion-competent upon arrival at the plasma membrane remains elusive. Indeed, the dissection of the molecular steps preceding Ca2+-dependent vesicle fusion has proven difficult to investigate. In the current model, SVs “dock,” in the presynaptic active zone and then undergo a maturation process that renders them fusion-competent, or “primed”. The SV priming reaction is executed by dedicated priming molecules such as Munc18-1, Munc13, Tomosyn and CAPS, which confer both speed and fidelity of synaptic excitation-secretion coupling and are essential for neurotransmitter release. These priming proteins interact with the core fusion machinery the SNARE proteins, which include the vesicular (v-) SNARE Synaptobrevin-2 (also called VAMP2), and the target (t-) SNARE comprising syntaxin 1a (Sx1a) and SNAP-25 located at the plasma membrane. Several lines of evidence indicate that SV priming involves the regulation of SNARE protein conformation2 and partial SNARE complex assembly5. However, the underlying molecular processes are still largely enigmatic. One of the main hindrances to progress has been the static nature of the current models. Priming molecules are inherently cytosolic and must be recruited prior to or during priming at the interface between the plasma membrane and vesicles to confer efficient priming. Super-resolution techniques are gaining momentum and are now opening new avenues for biologists, allowing direct visualisation of molecules in both fixed and living cells for the first time. In the last 5 years, my laboratory has focused on establishing single molecule imaging at The University of Queensland. Using this super-resolution technique, we have been able to track single molecules in their native environment and reveal critical changes in their behaviour associated with key physiological or pathological processes. The goal of this project is to use single molecule imaging to unravel the molecular mechanism that allows neurotransmitter-containing vesicles to acquire the ability to fuse with the plasma membrane, a process called “priming”. Plasma-membrane associated molecules such as Sx1a are organised in nanoclusters which are believed to act as docking sites for vesicles, but there is currently very little knowledge of how these priming molecules are organised in relation to these Sx1a nanoclusters. Our overarching hypothesis is that the intra- and inter-molecular events that take place during priming greatly affect the mobility of these molecules. In this project, we therefore plan to use single molecule imaging in live neurosecretory cells and neurons to assess these mobility changes and uncover the diffusional signature for each priming molecule. In doing so we will build the first comprehensive model of the molecular interactions that lead a recently docked vesicle to become fusion-competent.

Expected outcomes and deliverables:

The student will be trained at super-resolution techniques such as single particle tracking photoactivation localization microscopy (sptPALM), PALM and dSTORM. The student will be expected to acquired data and analyse it using state-of-the-art image analysis softwares.

Suitable for:

This project is open to applications from students with a background in microscopy and/or Physics, 3-4 year students.

Primary Supervisor:

 

Professor Frederic A. Meunier

Further info:

 

Please contact Professor Frederic A. Meunier prior to submitting your application:  f.meunier@uq.edu.au

 

Project title:

Role of Nuclear factor I in cortical development

Project duration:

4 weeks

Description:

In the Brain Development and Disorders laboratory, we are interested in the normal development and wiring of the brain and how defects during development result in disorders, such as congenital brain malformations and brain tumour.

The Nuclear Factor One (Nfi) genes are transcription factors that regulate development of the cerebral cortex. They do this by regulating the switch between proliferation and differentiation in radial progenitor cells. In humans, deficiency of NFI due to mutation or deletion of these genes is associated with severe brain developmental defects, including agenesis of the corpus callosum and macrocephaly. In this project, we will investigate the expression of NFI in various cell types during development and the effect of knockout of NFI on cortical development and wiring.

Expected outcomes and deliverables:

The applicants can expect to gain laboratory experience and actively participate in histology, microscopy and analytical techniques as part of an ongoing research project in the laboratory. Depending on the enthusiasm and commitment of the applicant, this project offers a great opportunity to be trained in advanced concepts of cortical development and transcriptional regulation.

Suitable for:

This project is suitable for year 2-4 students with a background in science and who are looking for an Honours or PhD project. 

Primary Supervisor:

 

Professor Linda Richards

Further info:

 

Prior to submitting an application or for further information, please contact:

Donna Simon at d.simon@uq.edu.au

 

Project title:

Effects of human epilepsy mutations on inhibitory neurotransmission in the brain

Project duration:

6 weeks

Description:

Epilepsy is a devastating neurological condition, affecting 1-3% of the global population and >30% of people with epilepsy do not respond to currently available medications. Generalized epilepsy syndromes are often caused by hereditary mutations to the GABA type-A receptors (GABAARs) that mediate fast neurotransmission throughout the nervous system. The mechanism by which mutations disrupt GABAAR synaptic activity is still unknown. The aim of this project is to examine how epilepsy mutations affect GABAAR function, by looking at parameters such as ligand affinity, channel gating properties, receptor surface expression, mobility and synaptic clustering in order to understand how epilepsy occurs and to identify the most appropriate ways to therapeutically modulate these receptors. We offer two projects.

Project 1 will employ artificial synapses to examine epilepsy-causing GABAARs as they would operate in a real synapse. Using patch-clamp electrophysiology will enable us to determine how the functional properties of the mutant receptors shape the activation and deactivation phases of synaptic currents. If time permits, you will also test the effectiveness of four commonly used and four new drugs with anti-epileptic potential, and quantify their mode of action.

Project 2 will visualize inhibitory synapses at high resolution to extract detailed structural and quantitative information. For this we will use several single molecule imaging approaches to measure surface distribution of receptors and follow their movement. These methods include super-resolution photoactivated localization microscopy (PALM), direct stochastic optical reconstruction microscopy (dSTORM) and single particle tracking PALM (sptPALM). Since neuronal synapses are three dimensional structures, 3D super-resolution imaging will also be performed.

Together these two projects will provide a detailed characterization of the molecular pathogenesis and pharmacological profile of generalized epilepsy, free of the complications of traditional methods. 

Expected outcomes and deliverables:

  • Learn how to culture HEK293 cells.
  • Learn how to transfect HEK293 cells.
  • Learn patch-clamp electrophysiology.
  • Learn how to pharmacologically evaluate the effects of clinically-used drugs on GABAARs.
  • Learn how to use the super-resolution microscopy techniques: PALM, dSTORM and sptPALM.
  • Learn how to analyse super-resolution microscopy data.

Possibility of co-authorship on publications arising from this research.

Suitable for:

This project is open to applications from students with a background in biomedical sciences, pharmacology, biochemistry or biophysics.

Primary Supervisor:

 

Professor Joe Lynch

Further info:

 

Please contact Professor Lynch prior to submitting an application.

j.lynch@uq.edu.au

phone: +617 33466375

The project will be carried out at the Queensland Brain Institute. 

 

Project title:

Computational analysis of zebrafish imaging data

Project duration:

4 weeks

Description:

In this project the student will write Matlab code to analyse data coming from 2-photon and behavioural imaging experiments involving zebrafish.

Expected outcomes and deliverables:

Deliverables are appropriate Matlab programs.

Suitable for:

Students with high level expertise in mathematics and Matlab programming.

Primary Supervisor:

 

Professor Geoffrey Goodhill

Further info:

 

For information about the Goodhill Lab Group, please refer to the lab page on the QBI website.

 

Project title:

The emotional motor system: how do we express emotions?

Project duration:

4 weeks

Description:

The mammalian brain is split into two; 1) limbic brain that organises emotions and 2) autonomic brain that controls survival (homeostasis). Both systems have to interact in order to produce emotional expression. A critical circuit that mediates limbic-autonomic interaction is the midbrain periaqueductal gray (PAG; see Subramanian and Holstege, 2014; Progress in Brain Research). This project will explore how the PAG orchestrates emotional expression such as vocalization, laughter, fear, anxiety and pain.

Expected outcomes and deliverables:

The scholars will gain an understanding of concepts of limbic-autonomic interaction and emotional expression. The scholars will also gain exposure to in vivo systems neurophysiology techniques such as maintenance of anesthesia, stereotaxic mapping of the brain, extracellular neuronal recording, nerve and muscle EMG recording, functional neuroanatomy and data analysis techniques. The students may have an opportunity to generate publications from their research. Students will be asked to produce a report or oral presentation at the end of their project.

Suitable for:

BBiomed Science students that are interested in doing Honours in Systems Neurophysiology

BSc students interested in doing Honours in Systems Neurophysiology

BE Electrical or Computer Science (Final year/ Honours)  

Primary Supervisor:

 

Dr Hari Subramanian

Further info:

 

Please contact Dr Subramanian before applying. Please refer to Subramanian and Holstege, 2014 Progress in Brain Research to familiarise yourself with Systems Neurophysiology concepts prior to contact. 

 

Project title:

The role of NFI-driven differentiation in brain tumour initiation and progression

Project duration:

4 weeks

Description:

In the Brain Development and Disorders laboratory, we are interested in the normal development and wiring of the brain and how defects during development result in disorders, such as congenital brain malformations and brain tumour.

We approach brain tumours as a developmental disorder in which the normal developmental process of differentiation is disrupted. Using mouse models and human histological, we are investigating whether Nuclear factor I (NFI), a strong regulator of differentiation during normal development, acts as a tumour suppressor in brain tumours such as glioma (including glioblastoma) or paediatric brain tumours. We are both interested in determining whether NFI plays a causal role in tumour initiation and progression of the tumours as well as whether NFI could functions as a potential target for therapy.

Expected outcomes and deliverables:

The applicants can expect to gain laboratory experience and actively participate in histology, microscopy and analytical techniques as part of an ongoing research project in the laboratory. Depending on the enthusiasm and commitment of the applicant, this project offers a great opportunity to be trained in advanced concepts of glial biology, transcriptional regulation and cancer biology.

Suitable for:

This project is suitable for year 3–4 students with a background in science and who are looking for an Honours or PhD project.

Primary Supervisor:

 

Professor Linda J Richards

Further info:

 

Prior to submitting an application or for further information, please contact:

Donna Simon at d.simon@uq.edu.au

 

Project title:

Queensland Twin Adolescent Brain project

Project duration:

4 weeks

Description:

Adolescence is a risk period for the emergence of psychiatric disorders. The onset of these disorders during the critical period of adolescence coincides with a period of rapid brain changes and the processes of structural brain maturation may have a significant impact on network functioning and subsequent behaviour. 

We will track the developing brain from pre or early puberty through to later puberty and sexual maturity, to determine the relative contributions of genetic versus environmental factors responsible for increasing our risk or resilience for psychiatric disease.

For this winter project, students can participate in helping with the assessments for this longitudinal Queensland Twin Adolescent Brain project, which includes assisting the 9-12 year old twins and their parents to fill out an online questionnaire, as well as testing the twin’s cognition with an Ipad based toolbox.

Expected outcomes and deliverables:

This internship gives students the opportunity to get familiar with a wide variety of components of the study. Tasks mainly involve data collection.

Suitable for:

Preferably for students with a background in Psychology, Neuroscience or equivalent.

Primary Supervisor:

 

A/Prof Margie Wright

Further info:

 

For further information, please contact margie.wright@uq.edu.au

 

Summer Research Program 2017/18 

UQ’s Summer Research Program provides an excellent opportunity for interested students to work with a researcher in a formal research environment to experience the research process and discover what research is being undertaken in their field of interest.

Students interested in pursuing a research career in neuroscience are encouraged to apply for the UQ Summer Research Program offered at the Queensland Brain Institute (QBI). QBI is looking for exceptional and highly motivated students to spend up to 10 weeks contributing to research projects currently underway in our laboratories while earning $300 per week. -->

The QBI Summer Research Program will run during the University’s summer holiday period. Specific dates will be determined later this year.
 

Previous Summer Projects

Project title:

Mathematical/computational neuroscience

 

Project duration:

8-10 weeks

 

Description:

The Goodhill lab aims to understand the mathematical/computational principles underlying brain development and function, using experimental mathematical and computational techniques. We are particularly interested in how nerve fibres are guided to make the right connections during neural development, how neural activity is structured during development, and how machine learning techniques (such as deep learning) can be used to help answer these questions. Within these parameters a project can be designed around the interests of the student.

 

Expected outcomes and deliverables:

Students will learn about how mathematical and computational techniques can be used to understand brain development and function, and use these to generate new results. At the end of the project they will give a presentation about their work.

 

Suitable for:

Students with a strong background and high achievement in mathematics, physics, engineering or computer science, who are interested in learning about this area.

Primary Supervisor:

 

Prof Geoffrey Goodhill

 

Project title: 

Effects of human epilepsy mutations on inhibitory neurotransmission in the brain

 

Project duration:

6-10 weeks

 

Description:

Epilepsy is a devastating neurological condition, affecting 1-3% of the global population and >30% of people with epilepsy do not respond to currently available medications. Generalized epilepsy syndromes are often caused by hereditary mutations to the GABA type-A receptors (GABAARs) that mediate fast neurotransmission throughout the nervous system. The mechanism by which mutations disrupt GABAAR synaptic activity is still unknown. The aim of this project is to examine how epilepsy mutations affect GABAAR function, by looking at parameters such as ligand affinity, channel gating properties, receptor surface expression, mobility and synaptic clustering in order to understand how epilepsy occurs and to identify the most appropriate ways to therapeutically modulate these receptors. We offer two projects.

Project 1 will employ artificial synapses to examine epilepsy-causing GABAARs as they would operate in a real synapse. Using patch-clamp electrophysiology will enable us to determine how the functional properties of the mutant receptors shape the activation and deactivation phases of synaptic currents. If time permits, you will also test the effectiveness of four commonly used and four new drugs with anti-epileptic potential, and quantify their mode of action.

Project 2 will visualize inhibitory synapses at high resolution to extract detailed structural and quantitative information. For this we will use several single molecule imaging approaches to measure surface distribution of receptors and follow their movement. These methods include super-resolution photoactivated localization microscopy (PALM), direct stochastic optical reconstruction microscopy (dSTORM) and single particle tracking PALM (sptPALM). Since neuronal synapses are three dimensional structures, 3D super-resolution imaging will also be performed.

Together these two projects will provide a detailed characterization of the molecular pathogenesis and pharmacological profile of generalized epilepsy, free of the complications of traditional methods.

 

Expected outcomes and deliverables:

  • Learn how to culture HEK293 cells.
  • Learn how to transfect HEK293 cells.
  • Learn patch-clamp electrophysiology.
  • Learn how to pharmacologically evaluate the effects of clinically-used drugs on GABAARs.
  • Learn how to use the super-resolution microscopy techniques: PALM, dSTORM and sptPALM.
  • Learn how to analyse super-resolution microscopy data.
  • Possibility of co-authorship on publications arising from this research.

Suitable for:

This project is open to applications from students with a background in biomedical sciences, pharmacology, biochemistry or biophysics.

Primary Supervisor:

 

Professor Joe Lynch

 

Project title:

What is the role of NFIX in adult neurogenesis?

Project duration:

6-10 weeks

 

Description:

Our lab studies the biology of neural stem cells. In particular, we focus on the role of the transcription factor, NFIX, in mediating the transition from neural progenitors to neurons and glia within the brain.

 

We have an opportunity for a student to join the lab over the summer break to study the function of NFIX in adult neurogenesis.

 

The project will probe the effects of NFIX deletion in the adult mouse brain using various molecular biology techniques.

 

Expected outcomes and deliverables:

Scholars will gain experience in all aspects of lab work, including brain sectioning, immunofluorescence, and data analysis. Scholars will also have an opportunity to write up results for publication. A brief lab meeting presentation will be expected from scholars following their stay in the lab.

 

Suitable for:

Applications are invited from students with a background in biology and/or chemistry, but this is not essential. Applicants should be highly motivated and capable of independent work.

Primary Supervisor:

 

A/Prof Michael Piper

Dr Oressia Zalucki

 

Project title:

The role of Nsd1 in the developing brain

 

Project duration:

6-10 weeks

 

Description:

Our lab studies the biology of neural stem cells. In particular, we focus on the role of the transcription factor, NFIX, in mediating the transition from neural progenitors to neurons and glia within the brain.

 

We have an opportunity for a student to join the lab over the summer break to study transcriptional targets of NFIX, focussing on the nuclear receptor binding SET-domain 1 (Nsd1) gene.

 

Expected outcomes and deliverables:

Scholars will gain experience in all aspects of lab work, including brain sectioning, immunofluorescence, and data analysis. Scholars will also have an opportunity to write up results for publication. A brief lab meeting presentation will be expected from scholars following their stay in the lab.

 

Suitable for:

Applications are invited from students with a background in biology and/or chemistry, but this is not essential. Applicants should be highly motivated and capable of independent work.

Primary Supervisor:

 

A/Prof Michael Piper

Dr Oressia Zalucki

 

Project title:

Role of Nuclear factor I in cortical development

Project duration:

10 weeks

 

Description:

The Nuclear Factor One (Nfi) genes are transcription factors that regulate development of the cerebral cortex. They do this by regulating the switch between proliferation and differentiation in radial progenitor cells. In humans, deficiency of NFI due to mutation or deletion of these genes is associated with severe brain developmental defects, including agenesis of the corpus callosum and ventriculomegaly. In this project, we will investigate the expression of NFI in various cell types during development and the effect of knockout of NFI on cortical development and wiring.

Expected outcomes and deliverables:

The applicants can expect to gain laboratory experience and actively participate in histology, microscopy and analytical techniques as part of an ongoing research project in the laboratory. Depending on the enthusiasm and commitment of the applicant, this project offers a great opportunity to be trained in advanced concepts of cortical development and transcriptional regulation.

Suitable for:

This project is suitable for year 3-4 students with a background in science and who are looking for a Honours or PhD project.

 

Primary Supervisor:

 

Prof. Linda J Richards

 

 

Project title:

Cortical development in marsupials

Project duration:

10 weeks

 

Description:

Marsupials are born at an early stage and complete development inside the pouch. This project aims at identifying cellular, anatomical, functional and developmental features of cortical wiring that differ between marsupials and placentals using dunnarts as animal models. The ability to transfect genes of interests in the brain of developing young allows a great range of experimental manipulations to understand the general rules governing brain wiring.

 

 

Expected outcomes and deliverables:

The applicants can expect to gain laboratory experience and actively participate in histology, microscopy and analytical techniques as part of an ongoing research project in the laboratory. Depending on the enthusiasm and commitment of the applicant, this project offers a great opportunity to be trained in advanced concepts of comparative neuroanatomy, brain development and evolution.

Suitable for:

This project is suitable for year 3-4 students with a background in science and who are looking for a Honours or PhD project.

 

Primary Supervisor:

 

Prof. Linda J Richards

 

 

Project title:

Optogenetic control of Drosophila brain function in virtual reality

 

Project duration:

6-10 weeks

 

Description:

We have developed a virtual reality paradigm for tethered, walking Drosophila flies. Combined with optogenetic tools, this approach allows us to manipulate brain function in real time, in behaving animals interacting with visual objects in an attention paradigm. We are interested in dissecting the neuroanatomy involved in visual selective attention, with a focus on a structure in the fly central brain called the ellipsoid body (EB). The project will involve testing key EB circuits to test a hypothesis on how visual attention might be regulated in a small brain.

 

Expected outcomes and deliverables:

The scholar will gain skill in Drosophila genetics, as well as in applications of the software (Matlab and Python) and hardware used in our visual attention paradigms. The scholar will also become acquainted with analysis methods for behavioural genetic data. It is likely that data acquired during this research project will make its way into a publication, as this is an ongoing research project in the lab, driven by a postdoctoral researcher.

 

Suitable for:

Students should be interested in neuroscience, and preference will be given to students considering to do an Honours project in the lab. Familiarity with Matlab is a plus.

 

Primary Supervisor:

 

Dr Martyna Grabowska (in the laboratory of Associate Professor Bruno van Swinderen)

 

 

Project title:

Tracking developmental changes in the brain through adolescence: how exactly do differences in brain maturation lead to psychopathology?

Project duration:

6-10 weeks

 

Description:

Adolescence is a time of rapid change in the brain, but few studies have detailed changes in brain development during this sensitive period. Using brain imaging (MRI: Magnetic Resonance Imaging), we are studying developmental brain changes that occur from late childhood into the teenage years in 400 twins, and how changes in the brain relate to differences in cognitive and emotional functioning. This will substantially increase our understanding of the adolescent brain. It will also provide leads into how neurodevelopmental processes can go wrong during this period and contribute to mental health problems e.g. anxiety and depression, and help us understand why adolescence is not an equally vulnerable period for all individuals.

Expected outcomes and deliverables:

Students will have the opportunity to assist with data collection - brain scanning and cognitive assessments.  They will also have the opportunity to gain skills in image processing (e.g. Freesurfer, FSL) and data analysis.

 

Suitable for:

This project is open to applications from students in Psychology (Neuropsychology, Experimental psychology, Cognitive Neuroscience) or with a background in image/signal processing, and would be suitable for candidates looking to progress to honours and/or a PhD.

Primary Supervisor:

 

AProf Margie Wright

 

Project title:

Markers of oxidative stress in brain tissue from adult vitamin D deficient mice

 

Project duration:

6 to 10 weeks

 

Description:

The brain is very susceptible to oxidative damage. Antioxidant enzymes; superoxide dismutase (SOD), glutathione (GSH), and catalase (CAT) protect the brain against oxidative damage.  In schizophrenia, a higher level of SOD3 (an isoform of SOD) and nitric oxide synthase 3 (NOS3) have been shown in the prefrontal cortex and under oxidative stress, neurons produce higher levels of iNOS (inducible nitric oxide synthase) enzyme to produce NO. Elevation of iNOS may lead to the production of large amounts of nitric oxide.  By contrast, low levels of vitamin D poorly regulates NF-kB (nuclear factor kappaB; a protein complex that controls transcription of DNA and production of cytokine) and NF-kB-mediated elevation of iNOS enzyme. The aim of this project will be to assess change in neural oxidative stress markers in control and adult vitamin D deficient mice. Brain tissue extracts will be homogenised and then assayed for Glutathione reduced (GSH) and nitric oxide (NO).

 

Expected outcomes and deliverables:

Scholars will gain skills in laboratory based techniques and in data collection and analysis. Students will have an opportunity to present their work to the group and discuss their findings with the goal of generating publications from their research. The student will also learn about various communication skills in science by producing a written report and an oral presentation at the end of their project.

 

Suitable for:

This project is open to applications from UQ students with a background in neuroscience, biology or chemistry in their 3rd or 4th year of studies.

Primary Supervisor:

 

Associate Professor Tom Burne