Research Supervisor Connect

Regulatory Proteins in Development and Disease


PhD projects in this laboratory are focused on understanding how key proteins can lead to both normal development and disease, and using this knowledge to develop reagents to inhibit or enhance specific cellular processes.


Professor Jacqueline Matthews.

Research location

School of Life and Environmental Sciences

Program type



The 30,000 or so genes in your genome encode proteins that work together in a coordinated fashion to regulate every biological process in your body. We want to find out, not just how proteins achieve these important biological processes, but also whether we can artificially regulate these activities through the design of specific protein inhibitors. In particular, we are investigating the protein:protein and protein:DNA interactions that occur during normal cellular development (such as blood cell and neuronal development) and comparing them with interactions that cause leukemia and breast cancer. Our focus is on the regulatory complexes made by a family of LIM containing proteins, the LMO (LIM-only) transcriptional regulators and the LIM-HD (LIM-homeodomain) transcription factors. LMO2 is essential for the development of blood cells, and its abnormal overproduction is a direct cause of T cell acute lymphoblastic leukemia (T-ALL). LMO4 is involved in the development of the breast epithilium and is a breast cancer oncogene, being overproduced in half of all breast cancers. LIM-HDs are expressed in different permutations and combinations to regulate neural development and distinct cell types in the brain. We are defining the key biomolecular interactions made by these proteins and are developing inhibitors of these interactions that can be used as research tools to uncover biological function, and could ultimately be used to treat disease.

Additional information

To do this, we use a wide range of different techniques including molecular biology (cloning/mutagenesis/ engineering), protein production and purification, and a wide range of biophysical (Yeast two-hybrid, phage display, ITC, EMSA, etc.), and structural methods. This is a fairly wide area of research and PhD projects can be designed to suit the student in many different specific areas.
HDR Inherent Requirements
In addition to the academic requirements set out in the Science Postgraduate Handbook, you may be required to satisfy a number of inherent requirements to complete this degree. Example of inherent requirement may include:

- Confidential disclosure and registration of a disability that may hinder your performance in your degree;
- Confidential disclosure of a pre-existing or current medical condition that may hinder your performance in your degree (e.g. heart disease, pace-maker, significant immune suppression, diabetes, vertigo, etc.);
- Ability to perform independently and/or with minimal supervision;
- Ability to undertake certain physical tasks (e.g. heavy lifting);
- Ability to undertake observatory, sensory and communication tasks;
- Ability to spend time at remote sites (e.g. One Tree Island, Narrabri and Camden);
- Ability to work in confined spaces or at heights;
- Ability to operate heavy machinery (e.g. farming equipment);
- Hold or acquire an Australian driver’s licence;
- Hold a current scuba diving license;
- Hold a current Working with Children Check;
- Meet initial and ongoing immunisation requirements (e.g. Q-Fever, Vaccinia virus, Hepatitis, etc.)

You must consult with your nominated supervisor regarding any identified inherent requirements before completing your application.

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Opportunity ID

The opportunity ID for this research opportunity is 43