Understanding the molecular mechanisms by which apoptosis and/or autophagy are regulated

2021 Honours opportunity

Supervisors: Dr Erinna Lee and A/Prof Doug Fairlie

Laboratory: Cell Death and Survival

Subjects prerequisites: MED3LAB, MED3PRJ and/or GEN3LAB

Cells possess distinct pathways that promote their survival or death. These pathways are tightly regulated but when this regulation goes awry, diseases such as cancer ensue. Our lab is interested in two main pathways that control cell death and cell survival. These are apoptosis and autophagy respectively.

Apoptosis is a form of cell death required for the removal of damaged or unwanted cells. We are primarily interested in the mechanisms by which the BCL-2 family of proteins regulate this process and how they can be targeted with drugs for disease treatment. Autophagy is one mechanism of cell survival and is an evolutionarily conserved process of cellular self-cannibalism. Damaged or unnecessary cellular components are targeted to the lysosome for their removal once encapsulated in autophagic vesicles. A large focus of our work is on the autophagy inducer Beclin1 and how it contributes to cellular homeostasis and disease.

Project Description
Broadly, the Honours project(s) will be aimed at understanding the molecular mechanisms by which apoptosis and/or autophagy are regulated by our proteins of interest under normal physiological conditions and how this can go awry to give rise to disease. We are also interested in exploring the therapeutic value of molecules that modulate these pathways and developing new ways in which we can target these pathways for therapeutic benefit in cancer treatment.

Upon completion of the Honours year we expect our student to be equipped with fundamental laboratory techniques in cell biology, protein biochemistry and drug screening. Skills that will be essential for a future career as a lab scientist.


How do I apply?
Please complete and return your Ranked Entry Project Selection Form (available in the 2021 projects bookletby 5pm Friday 6 November 2020 to I.Poon@latrobe.edu.au

How do I find out more?
Discover more about La Trobe University’s School of Molecular Sciences/LIMS Honours opportunities
Contact the LTU Honours Coordinator, Dr Ivan Poon
Phone: 03 9479 6488
E-mail: I.Poon@latrobe.edu.au