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Investigating the role of a novel RNA binding protein in telomerase activity


We have identified a role for a novel RNA binding protein in telomerase biogenesis and recruitment to telomeres. We aim to investigate how this protein functions in this context using fluorescence microscopy and live cell imaging, as well as telomere molecular biology and proteomics approaches.


Associate Professor Hilda Pickett.

Research location

Westmead - Childrens Medical Research Institute

Program type



Telomeres are nucleoprotein structures at the ends of linear chromosomes that function to maintain chromosome integrity. Telomere maintenance is vital for the increased proliferative capacity of normal human germline, embryogenic and stem cells, and for the continued growth of tumour cells. Approximately 85% of cancer cells maintain their telomeres by activating the enzyme telomerase, which uses its integral RNA template subunit to reverse transcribe telomeric DNA onto chromosome termini. Consequently, telomerase represents an important therapeutic target for all types of cancers. However, the mechanisms underlying telomerase activation, biogenesis and recruitment to chromosome ends are not fully understood. Using a proteomics approach, we have identified a novel protein that binds to the RNA component of telomerase, which we hypothesise is required for correct telomerase assembly. We aim to characterise how this protein impacts on telomerase activity and telomere length, and to determine whether this protein can be targeted as a means to prevent telomere elongation and cancer cell proliferation.

Additional information

Children's Medical Research Institute (CMRI) is an award-winning state-of-the-art medical research facility, with over 100 full-time scientists dedicated to researching the genes and proteins important for health and human development. The CMRI is supported in part by its key fundraiser Jeans for GenesĀ®. Our scientists are internationally recognised research leaders and foster excellence in postgraduate training. CMRI graduates are highly sought after nationally and internationally.

CMRI is located at Westmead, a major hub for research and medicine in NSW, and is affiliated with the University of Sydney. Easy to access by public transport.

We are looking for top quality students who can prove a dedicated interest and enthusiasm for scientific research.

Candidates may apply for a CMRI PhD Research Award, which exceeds the Australian Postgraduate Awards and NHMRC scholarships in value. Visit the CMRI website for more details.


PhD entry: Hons I classification, lab-based research experience is preferable.

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Opportunity ID

The opportunity ID for this research opportunity is 2097