Finding safe and effective therapies for stroke in children

University of Technology Sydney
August 31, 2023
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Cerebral cavernous malformations (CCMs) are dilated blood vessels that form a non-malignant but potentially fatal condition causing strokes. Commonly detected in the brain in as many as 1/200 individuals, CCM is a major cause of stroke in young people who therefore lose many years of quality life. Brain surgery is only available treatment, hence new CCM therapies are urgently needed.

Our research group has made major contributions to CCM research from animal models to molecular signaling to imaging technique in recent years which include identification of the key signaling pathways in CCM disease and repurposing the first FDA-approved drug to treat experimental CCM.

Project 1

Clinical observations and our preliminary data in mouse models demonstrate greater CCM burden in males. Male predisposition to CCM likely reflects the impact of sex hormones on pathology, since men have earlier onset and more severe cardiovascular disease than women. Whether the pronounced sex difference reflects a protective effect of estrogens/progesterone or a deleterious effect of androgens is unknown and has not been studied. Hence, the project aims to elucidate the roles of sex hormones in CCM and reveal the potential use of sex hormones as a CCM therapy.

Project 2

We recently identified the gut microbiome as a critical stimulant of CCM. Broad-spectrum antibiotics prevented CCM lesion formation in mouse models. Despite being highly effective in mouse models of disease, the continued use of broad-spectrum antibiotics is not suitable for long term treatment of CCM patients, as they kill bacteria that are beneficial to human health, which in turn is likely to have many side effects. Our finding has suggested novel therapeutic strategies by targeting the gut microbiome. Hence, the project aims to elucidate the roles of the gut microbiome in CCM and reveal the potential use of microbiome targeted CCM therapy.

Who is eligible?
  • Applicants must be either permanent Australian or New Zealand residents or citizens.
  • Applicants must hold a bachelor’s degree in a biomedical or biological science
  • Have a strong academic record and prior laboratory experience
  • Completion of Honours degree with First Class, or Second Class Division 1;
  • or MSc Research; or MSc Coursework with a significant research component
  • Selection process

    Applicants must:

  • be highly motivated and capable of independent work
  • have a strong team focus
  • possess excellent communication skills and the ability to work with a diverse range of people and within established collaborative teams
  • have knowledge of a research/laboratory environment and requirements
  • be computer literate in standard research software
  • show willingness to learn advanced software
  • be able to maintain thorough laboratory records
  • possess experience with standard lab techniques such as biochemical extractions (proteins, lipids Metabolites), bacterial culture, reduction/alkylation procedures, accurate pipetting (~1ul), knowledge of sample normalization and experimental controls
  • possess experience with standard microscopy
  • be prepared to conduct in vivo mouse models and/or collaborate with animal handling experts to run and coordinate in vivo animal models.
  • How to apply

    Prospective candidates should contact Dr Peter Choi and Prof. Phil Hansbro for further information and to find out how to apply. Please include a CV and short description explaining your interest in the project. Shortlisted candidates will be advised with further details.

    Need more information? Contact...

    For further information please contact Dr. Peter Choi and/or Prof. Phil Hansbro

    Other information

    UTS Centenary Centre for Inflammation

  • https: // www. sciences/research/our-research/healthy-futures/uts-centenary-centre- inflammation
  • https: // www. inflammation/
  • Value

    $32,500 per year (RTP Stipend rate, indexed annually); additional funds ($7.5k) during the course of the PhD for travel and other PhD-related expenses.


    3.5 years








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