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The role of sex hormones in Duchenne muscular dystrophy pathogenesis

This project aims to understand how sex hormones drive neurocognitive and muscle dysfunction in Duchenne muscular dystrophy (DMD); and to understand the role of sex hormones on DMD pathogenesis using breeding, genetic and supplementary methodologies.

Project supervisor(s)

Dr Angus Lindsay and Professor Aaron Russell

Duchenne muscular dystrophy (DMD) is an X-linked neuromuscular disease characterised by progressive striated muscle degeneration. Consistent damage and degeneration of striated muscle leads to the replacement of contractile tissue with fat and fibrotic deposits. Despite the catastrophic muscle pathology of DMD, patients also suffer from non-muscle phenotypes such as learning and cognitive disorders.

Sex hormones play an integral role in the maintenance of muscle mass and function. Sex hormones also have neuroprotective properties. Recent research in IPAN has determined that sex hormones could play a primary role in the development of neurocognitive dysfunction and striated muscle degeneration in a mouse model of DMD.

Therefore, this basic science project will aim to elucidate the mechanisms through which sex hormones drive neurocognitive and muscle dysfunction in a mouse model of DMD using gene therapy, molecular biology and biochemistry.

Prerequisites

Applicants will have an undergraduate degree with Honours (First class) or Masters by Research (>80%) in a relevant discipline, such as Biochemistry, Biology, Molecular Biology or Health Sciences. Applicants should have an interest in striated muscle, gene therapy or molecular biology. Applicants should be eligible for enrolment in a PhD program at Deakin University and eligible to apply for an Australian Postgraduate Award or equivalent. Applicants must meet Deakin’s PhD entry requirements.

Scholarships available – open to domestic and international students living in Australia.

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