Faculty of Science

Investigating the role and formation of sub-nuclear bodies in disease

We study the 'paraspeckle': a nuclear body built on a long noncoding RNA that is important in cancer and other disease states.

  1. Summary of the project
  2. Eligibility criteria
  3. Readings
  4. Contact the research team leader
  5. How to apply
  6. Scholarships

Summary of the project

Many diseases, including cancer, are driven by mutations that change gene expression in the cell. Two ways that our cells control gene expression are through the production of long non-protein-coding RNA molecules, that are pervasive in the human genome, as well as organisation of molecules in the cell nucleus. These mechanisms coalesce in the formation of the ‘paraspeckle’ – a sub-nuclear body that is built on a specific long noncoding RNA.

Recently it was shown that paraspeckles are critical in the formation and progression of several types of cancer and are therefore good therapeutic targets. In this project you will investigate the interactions between proteins and RNA molecules that hold paraspeckles together, as well as investigating the role of paraspeckles in different diseases.

We use cutting edge molecular, cellular and physiological methods such as CRISPR-cas9 genome editing, genomics, super-resolution microscopy, live cell imaging, fluorescent in situ hybridization and immunofluorescence, and phenotypic assays of cells.

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Eligibility criteria

General UWA PhD entrance requirements can be found on the Future Students website.

Requirements specific to these project

A background in molecular cell biology as well as any experience with genome-wide data is desirable, but not essential.


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Contact the research team leader

Once you have ensured that you meet the eligibility criteria and are ready to discuss a proposal, contact the research team leader to identify a potential supervisor.
Research team leader: Dr Archa Fox
I am a lecturer in Anatomy, Physiology and Human Biology at the University of Western Australia and affiliate of the Harry Perkins Institute of Medical Research. My career has focused on the study of gene regulation. I completed my PhD at the University of Sydney then moved to Scotland where I discovered a novel sub-nuclear structure, the paraspeckle, for my post-doctoral research. I have been running my own lab group for 10 years at the University of Western Australia.

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How to apply

After you have discussed your project with the research team leader you should be in a position to proceed to step two of the UWA application process: 'Lodge an application'.

Different procedures apply to domestic and international students.

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Domestic students

All domestic students may apply for Research Training Program and University Postgraduate Awards (UPA) scholarships.

The Australian Government's Endeavour Awards and Scholarships are available to Australian applicants for study in participating countries and regions.

International students

A range of scholarships are available from international organisations and governments. The full list, organised by country, is available on the Future Students website.

In addition, all international students may apply for International Research Training Program scholarships.

The Australian Government's Endeavour Awards and Scholarships are available to international applicants from participating countries and regions.

Indigenous students

Indigenous students are encouraged to apply for Indigenous Postgraduate Research Supplementary Scholarships.

Forrest Foundation scholarships

All international and Australian students who wish to study towards the degree of Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) at The University of Western Australia may apply for Forrest Scholarships.

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