Faculty of Science

Probing the roles bacteria play in infant health

One important type of glycoconjugates is that found in human milk; they are termed human milk oligosaccharides (HMOs).

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

Summary of the project

HMOs have been demonstrated to be critical to infant health as beneficial bacteria in the gastrointestinal tract of the infant utilise these materials.

These compounds are present at 10 to 20 g/litre in human milk and are important for bifidobacteria, which are Gram-positive anaerobic bacteria, that naturally colonize the human intestinal tract.

These bacteria are believed to be important for infant health, but to date limited chemical tools have been generated to study these fundamentally important molecules. The development of such tools is therefore important.

Project(s) described here will be to design and synthesize molecules of interest for use in biological studies with bifidobacteria to understand how these bacteria process these important oligosaccharides.

Through strong international collaborations with researchers in Japan (opportunity to travel to institutions in this country is encouraged), these compounds will also be co-crystallized with proteins of interest.

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Eligibility criteria

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

Requirements specific to this project:

  • Experience with organic chemistry
  • Experience in biochemistry (desired 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 Keith Stubbs
I completed my undergraduate and PhD studies at UWA, followed by postdoctoral studies at Simon Fraser University in Vancouver, Canada. I currently hold an ARC Future Fellowship to further my research. My research interests are synthetic chemistry, carbohydrate chemistry and glycobiology.

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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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