IIP Placements in Australia
Geodynamics Group, Research School of Earth Sciences, The Australian National University (ANU)
Location: Canberra, Australia
About: The research of the Geodynamics Group at the Research School of Earth Sciences, The Australian National University, is focused on using space-based observations to study changes on Earth. With strong backgrounds in geodesy, the researchers in the group are studying a wide range of topics including crustal deformation (tectonic drift, earthquakes), glacial isostatic adjustment as well as climate-related topics such as sea level rise and melting of polar ice sheets. Space-geodetic missions such as satellite altimeters (Jason-2, Envisat, IceSAT), space gravity (GRACE) and positioning systems (e.g. GPS) provide the observations for these studies. The research involves generating numerical models and processing the data such that estimates of these geophysical signals can be made. We know that Antarctica and Greenland are melting because of the satellite altimetry and GRACE missions, we know the global pattern of sea level rise only because of the satellite altimetry missions. Three placements have been established for IIP interns.
Intern responsibilities: The IIP intern will work as part of a team to study some aspect of change on Earth using space-geodetic observations. There are many possible projects from which to choose: improving the modelling of satellite orbits, estimating changes in groundwater aquifers, quantifying crustal strain across continents and/or known active fault zones, deriving estimates of regional sea level rise, or measuring actual melting rates of polar regions, among others. Possible responsibilities may include developing software to model satellite orbits, processing actual satellite observations to derive estimates of geophysical processes on Earth, developing and assessing different types of models for certain processes. The work is computationally intensive and the IIP intern could be involved in writing software, processing data, deriving estimates, interpreting and evaluating the results. Previous IIP interns have worked on projects that have been submitted for publication with the intern as a co-author.
Qualifications: Strengths in maths/physics are essential for this IIP internship.View a PowerPoint presentation (.pdf) from a past intern.
University of Queensland, Institute of Molecular Bioscience (IMB)
Location: Brisbane, Australia
About: The Institute for Molecular Bioscience's mission is to decipher the information contained in the genes, proteins, and molecules of humans, animals, and plants. Since its establishment in 2000, the IMB has earned a reputation as one of the Asia Pacific region's leading research institutes. By understanding the development process and aspects that go awry in complex diseases, IMB aims to develop pharmaceutical and cellular therapies, technologies, and diagnostics to prevent or treat such diseases. One placement has been established for IIP interns.
Intern responsibilities: The IIP intern may conduct synthetic organic chemistry of small heterocyclic drug-like molecules, purification (HPLC) and characterization (LCMS, NMR, Mass Spectrometry). Although the IIP intern will be primarily conducting synthetic chemistry, there will be significant opportunity to learn about multiple areas of drug discovery and related biology through the multidisciplinary team within which the intern will work. Two main areas of interest: (1) novel therapies to treat inflammatory disease (asthma / type 2 diabetes / inflammatory disorders of the brain) via targeting the NLRP3 inflammasome and (2) drugs against pathogenic fungi, in particular, the human pathogenic fungus cryptococcus neoformans a common cause of fatal fungal meningioencephalitis in immunocompromised individuals. Additional background information on the two research areas:
- Novel Therapeutics for Anti-inflammatory Disease: Working as part of an international multidisciplinary team in the field of synthetic medicinal chemistry, the intern will synthesize novel members of an exciting compound series, targeting the NLRP3 signalling cascade, aimed at reducing levels of a potent pyrogen interleukin 1β. Such molecules have significant utility in inflammatory diseases including asthma, type 2 diabetes and also in disorders of the brain, Parkinsons and Alzheimers. The lead molecule is showing excellent activity in murine models and IMB is looking to advance the series. There is a unique opportunity to learn and develop synthetic, purification, and analytical skills contributing to the series for future patent and/or publication and the intern will be included on this as appropriate to the work conducted. The student can expect to complete his/her project with an excellent understanding of the structure activity/property relationships within the series and the underlying biology of the disease area.
- Drugs against pathogenic fungi: The human pathogenic fungus Cryptococcus neoformans is a common cause of fatal fungal meningioencephalitis in immunocompromised individuals, typically AIDS patients and persons undergoing immunosuppressive treatment such as transplant and chemotherapy. In sub-Saharan Africa, cryptococcosis is the second most deadly infectious disease behind only malaria. Infections of humans caused by pathogenic fungal species such as C. neoformans are highly refractive to pharmacological intervention due to similarities in our shared eukaryotic physiology. Antifungals are few in number, often expensive, frequently toxic to humans, and have notoriously variable efficacy across the spectrum of human fungal pathogens.The aim of this internship is to develop promising new antifungal lead compounds. An approach of particular interest is exploiting differences in essential enzymes that are well characterized in both the human host and the fungal pathogen to gain selective antifungals through structure based drug design. IMB has already conducted an extensive screening campaign where a number of hits have been selected for further work. This project will require a talented and creative synthetic chemist willing to work across multiple scientific disciplines to progress the project.
Qualifications: IIP candidates with experience in synthetic organic chemistry and an interest in therapeutics are encouraged to apply. Laboratory experience particularly organic synthesis work is required. View a PowerPoint presentation (.pdf) by a past intern.