School of Medicine PhD Scholarship "The role of interferon lambdas in liver inflammation and fibrosis"

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    Western Sydney University
    Open until suitable candidate is found
    Formal sciences
    Natural sciences
    Professions and applied sciences



Applications are currently being accepted for a 3 year PhD project in the immunology of Non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD) at Western Sydney University Blacktown and the Westmead Institute for Medical Research. The project will be conducted in the research group of Professor Golo Ahlenstiel and will remain open until a suitable candidate is found.

Non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD) is characterised by the accumulation of excess fat in the liver, termed steatosis. NAFLD encompasses simple steatosis and its inflammatory state called non-alcoholic steatohepatitis (NASH) which is a core driver of liver cirrhosis, and hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC). This project will focus on the role of interferon lambdas (IFN-λs) on the progression of liver inflammation and fibrosis.

Interferon lambda (IFN-λ) is a central antiviral cytokine in the liver that is elevated in NASH, and that contributes to the progression of liver inflammation and fibrosis. The mechanism of IFN-λ induction, and cells involved however, remain unknown. We hypothesise that microbial ligands originating from the gut, enter the liver in the portal blood and stimulate IFN-λ expression. This project will aim to determine the contribution and identity of intestinal biota that stimulate IFN-λ, the responsive cells, and the mechanisms by which IFN-λ drives liver inflammation. We will utilise cutting edge genomics, primary cell culture, flow cytometry and molecular biology techniques to shed some light on the role of IFN-λ in NASH. This study will pave the way for future treatments aimed at halting the progression of inflammation in NASH.

What is funded

  • Domestic students will receive a tax-free stipend of $30,000 per annum to support living costs, supported by the Research Training Program (RTP) Fee Offset.
  • International students will receive a tax-free stipend of $30,000 per annum to support living costs. Those with a strong track record will be eligible for a tuition fee waiver.


3 years


We welcome applicants from a range of backgrounds, that possess laboratory experience and a background in medical/health science and/or molecular biology. In particular, the project is suitable for candidates with strong interests in the immunology of chronic hepatic and gastrointestinal disease

The successful applicant should:

  • hold qualifications and experience equal to one of the following (i) an Australian First Class Bachelor (Honours) degree, (ii) Research Master’s degree, or (iii) equivalent overseas qualifications.
  • demonstrate strong academic performance in subjects relevant to immunology and disease.
  • understand of the importance of identifying the mechanisms of disease in order to generate novel treatments and interventions.
  • be willing to learn novel lab based and analytical techniques using a variety or advanced instrumentation.
  • be enthusiastic and highly motivated to undertake further study at an advanced level.
  • International applicants must also meet English language proficiency.


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