Amgen Scholars Program
Research in the real world.
The Amgen Scholars Program is an international program that gives undergraduate students hands-on lab experience, working for 8 weeks in one of our world-class labs. You’ll get the chance to research full time on a project of your choice, meet like-minded students, and experience the wealth of scientific opportunity that Melbourne has to offer. All costs are covered, including travel and living costs, and Scholars receive a stipend to support them during their experience.
The University of Melbourne is proud to be the only institution in Australia that offers this program.
Why Amgen Scholars?
The Amgen Scholars Program is a unique program, combining research experience with travel and an international community. Through the generous support of the Amgen Foundation, we’ve designed a program that provides a platform where you can explore your research interests and expand your skills, preparing you for a career in scientific research.
Throughout the program, we provide personalised support; in your lab, at college, and beyond. You’ll work closely with a mentor in your lab on a day-to-day basis. There’s also a weekly seminar, where industry and academic leaders discuss emerging scientific issues, as well as tours and excursions.
The Program concludes with the Symposium event, where Scholars have the opportunity to present to their cohort, as well as the wider University of Melbourne community, the research they have conducted. This includes a poster presentation and a short aural presentation, preparing students for research conferences in their future career.
The University of Melbourne is the leading Australian research university, ranked #1 in Australia, #32 in the world, and has the largest cohort of research students in Australia.1
The Program provides students with accommodation at the historic Queen’s College, on campus, free of charge. This includes all meals. Living at Queen’s College with your fellow Scholars means that you’ll be able to form a strong community both socially and intellectually.
In addition to your research experience, you will have the opportunity to meet with leading industry professionals, attend seminars delivered by world-class researchers, and explore the wonderful city of Melbourne.
If you have any enquiries, please contact us at email@example.com.
1The Times Higher Education World University Rankings 2018.
2QS World University Rankings 2018.
To be eligible for the Amgen Scholars Program Australia program you must:
- Be an undergraduate student enrolled in an accredited college or university in Australia, New Zealand or Oceania
- Have completed two years of an equivalent Australian bachelor degree in a scientific field at time of the program, and have at least two semesters left of your degree. (i.e. for 2022 ASP, you will have finished your second year at the end of 2021 and expect to graduate at the end of 2022.) [This requirement is flexible in certain circumstances – please email firstname.lastname@example.org if you have a question about your eligibility]
You must also have:
- A weighted average mark equivalent to 75% (GPA 3.2) or above in relevant 1st and 2nd year subjects
- Demonstrated academic excellence and leadership.
- Interest and enthusiasm for a research higher degree in a scientific field, and intend on pursuing a career in scientific research.
- OR, you are Indigenous and have a WAM equivalent to 55% or above in relevant 1st and 2nd year subjects
Applicants experiencing financial or personal hardship are encouraged to apply. Students from linguistically diverse, rural, international or Indigenous backgrounds are also encouraged to apply. Such factors are taken into account when evaluating applications.
Applications open: 1 July 2021
Applications close: 31 August 2021
Outcomes released: 15 November 2021
Program commences: 3 January 2022 (TBC)
Program concludes: 25 February 2022 (TBC)
Symposium: 18 February 2022 (TBC)
Although the Amgen Scholars Program is funded by the Amgen Foundation, there are research projects available in a variety of sectors beyond direct drug development.
The list of available projects for 2022 is available below. Please note that these are subject to change.
Please use contacts only for project-specific questions. If you have any queries about the program, please email email@example.com.
|Maher Research Laboratory||Mitochondria are the powerhouses of the cell providing the body with over 90% of the energy it needs to sustain life. Mitochondrial diseases collectively represent the most common inborn errors of metabolism in humans. These are debilitating and potentially fatal diseases that reduce the ability of the mitochondria to produce this energy. We are interested in studying mitochondrial diseases that result from defects in the biogenesis of Complex IV, particularly related to copper transport. Copper is an essential trace element for eukaryotes and mechanisms must be in place to enable its trafficking to prevent its toxicity. Defects in Cu incorporation into Complex IV are an active and rapidly growing area of research. This project will examine the role of a host of Complex IV assembly factor proteins. Our laboratory specialises in the technique of X-ray crystallography, which allows us to visualise the three dimensional architectures of these proteins and therefore understand how they work. We aim to study the structures and functions of these proteins so we can understand why dysfunction causes disease.||Megan Maher, firstname.lastname@example.org|
|Leung Research Group||
|Ivanhoe Leung, email@example.com|
|Epigenetics and Neuroplasticity Laboratory||This research project will involve investigation of intergenerational epigenetic inheritance in a mouse model. Following an experimental manipulation in adult male laboratory mice, we are interested in understanding epigenetic changes which may occur in this mice. These mice (as well as control males) will be mated with standard female mice and phenotyping will be conducted on the offspring to establish whether such intergenerational inheritance can involve epigenetic modifiers. This research has relevance to epigenetic modulation of brain function and dysfunction, and thus predisposition to various brain disorders.||Tony Hannan, firstname.lastname@example.org|
|Wille Lab||Exploring damage in plants by the air pollutants nitrogen dioxide and ozone Air pollution has become the largest environmental risk for society. Whereas much effort to gain insight into the detrimental effects of air pollution for human health is made, the impact on plants and vegetation is much less understood. Plants are an important food resource with wheat and rice being the leading source of energy in form of carbohydrates and proteins for humans worldwide. In light of the increasing pressure on agriculture to provide food security for a continuously growing population, it is remarkable that details of the damage in plants upon exposure to air pollutants are not yet well understood. Nitrogen dioxide and ozone are important irritant gaseous air pollutants in the environment, which are formed through combustion of fossil fuels and transformations of natural and man-made volatile organic compounds in the presence of light. This project aims to obtain a better mechanistic understanding how plants are damaged by nitrogen dioxide and ozone, using methods in physical organic chemistry (Wille lab, Chemistry) and analytical biochemistry (Roessner lab, BioSciences). By studying the chemical transformations of plant biomolecules upon exposure to nitrogen dioxide and ozone in isolation and in combination traits will be identified that could provide guidelines for the future development of crops with higher resilience to air pollution.||Uta Wille, email@example.com|
|White Research Group||Projects are available on the synthesis of precursor organic molecules for the purposes of radio labelling with the positron emitting isotope 18-F. The molecules will be labelled by collaborators at the Olivia Newton John Cancer Research centre and the labelled compounds tested as imaging agents for various types of tumour, including breast cancer and prostate cancers.||Jonathan White, firstname.lastname@example.org|
|Translational Neurogenetics Laboratory||Somatic Mutations and Epilepsy Genomic testing of DNA extracted from peripheral blood lymphocytes can fail to detect pathogenic variants in individuals with brain lesions and epilepsy. Analysis of brain tissue specimens collected at neurosurgery can reveal causative somatic mosaic variants. Technologies such as high-depth sequencing or droplet digital PCR are key in detecting and quantifying mosaic variants even at low frequency in brain tissue. Precision case management and support are required to explain complex genomic tests and facilitate sample collection. Molecular diagnosis of a somatic variant can inform clinical management, prognosis, treatment strategies and recurrence risk for these individuals and their families. Aim: 1. To identify the causative somatic mosaic variant in an individual with lesional epilepsy 2. To gain hands-on experience with current genomic technologies 3. To understand the pathway from the clinic, through the laboratory process, to molecular diagnosis and back to the bedside Lab Website: https://medicine.unimelb.edu.au/research-groups/medicine-and-radiology-research/austin-hospital/translational-neurogenetics-laboratory Find an Expert Site: https://findanexpert.unimelb.edu.au/profile/5791-michael-hildebrand||
|Probiotics, prebiotics and gut health
|The growing preference for functional foods favours the probiotic and prebiotic market growth and is expected to reach over USD 66 billion by 2024. Probiotics are live microorganisms which when administered in adequate amounts confer health benefits on the host through enhancing gut microbiome. Probiotics are associated with maintaining optimum microbial balance in the digestive tract with a number of well-documented health benefits. Therefore, these organisms such as lactobacilli and bifidobacteria have been extensively incorporated into various food products over the last decade. Colonic foods, which encourage the growth of favourable bacteria, are referred to as prebiotics. There is an obvious potential for a synergetic effect when combining probiotics and prebiotics appropriately, because prebiotics promote the growth and activities of probiotics. Traditionally, probiotic delivery has been associated with dairy foods, however there is an increasing demand for non-dairy probiotic products due to vegetarianism, concerns over milk cholesterol content, and lactose intolerance. In order to provide beneficial health effects for the host animal, probiotic bacteria must survive through the gastrointestinal tract, tolerating acid, bile and gastric enzymes, and then adhere and colonize in the intestinal epithelium. These functional properties can be influenced by the type food carriers used in probiotic delivery. Hence, studies on influence of non-dairy plant-based food matrices on probiotic functional efficacy are crucial. Our recent work focus on the impact of various non-dairy food substrates on the gastrointestinal tolerance of probiotics (selected strains of lactobacilli & bifidibacteria) and their colonic fermentation in vitro. In addition, cell culture techniques with respect to probiotic adhesin into intestinal epithelium and basic molecular biological applications are also used. This study will evaluate the gastrointestinal tolerance and colonic fermentation of various probiotic species/ strain combinations in the presence of selected prebiotic food substances (inulin and fructooligosaccharides) in plant-based food matrices using in vitro techniques.||Dr Senaka Ranadheera, email@example.com
|Biomaterials lab||Our lab develops new materials with the goal of improving the performance of biomedical devices or tissue engineered constructs. This project aims to develop next generation hydrogel bioinks for use in 3D printing/biofabrication technologies. This will be achieved through the synthesis of novel materials with controlled rheological and biological properties.||Daniel Heath,
|Mycoplasma Lab, Asia Pacific Centre for Animal Health||Mycoplasmas are the smallest free-living bacteria and many of them are pathogenic to humans and Animals. These pathogenic mycoplasmas are wall-less therefore resistant to many antimicrobials and develop antimicrobial resistance readily. Therefore, best method on controlling mycoplasma diseases is via vaccination. In our laboratory we work exclusively on developing vaccines against some of the major pathogenic mycoplasmas in production animals. We investigate the interactions between the mycoplasmas and their hosts to identify the virulent genes involved in pathogenicity of the bacteria, which would ultimately help to develop better vaccine candidates to control the diseases. These summer projects will investigate how pathogenic mycoplasmas interact with their host through in-vitro cell culture studies. You will get hands on experience in mycoplasma culture and quantification, cell-culture set up, different cell culture assays and molecular detection methods. These studies will help to establish in-vitro infection models for pathogenic mycoplasmas and drastically reduce the use of live animals for infection studies.||Dr Nadeeka Wawegama,|
|Preclinical Interface Neuromodulation Team, Bionics Institute||Electrical bionic control over bladder function Using electricity to alter the activity of peripheral nerves has the potential to treat a wide range of diseases that are poorly controlled by pharmaceutical drugs. As peripheral nerves affect many of the organs in our bodies, such electroceutical intervention has been used for a wide range of human diseases. Furthermore, compared with the pharmaceutical drug screening process, developing a stimulation therapy can be rapidly driven into the clinic. The Preclinical Interface Neuromodulation Team (PINT), led by Research Director James Fallon at the Bionics Institute, aims to rapidly develop and validate novel bionic therapies for the eventual treatment of human diseases. One of our recent focus has been the development of technology to control bladder function for the treatment of urinary dysfunction. Following pelvic surgeries such as colorectal resections, prostatectomies and hysterectomies, nerves that control urination are often damaged, leading to urinary dysfunction. Here we use our custom made electrode array to explore a range of stimulation strategies to either induce or delay urination.||James Fallon, firstname.lastname@example.org|
|Pires Research Group||Title: Predicting cancer risk and predisposition from genomics data
Summary: Over the course of evolution, mutations have the important role of introducing diversity into genomes. Mutations that affect proteins (those that we inherit from our parents and those that we accumulate over the years) may also lead to disease and disease predisposition, including many different types of cancer. Understanding and predicting the effects of these mutations on proteins may give us clues to their potential role in diseases and indicate whether we have a higher risk of developing certain types of cancer. Over the years we have developed a range of computational tools to quantitatively assess how mutations affect protein function (https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/24281696/) and showed this can be used to identify those mutations that may lead to kidney cancer (https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/24969085/). This project will build on these efforts to develop new methods to predict whether mutations can lead to other types of cancer by combining patient data, outcomes and genome information via supervised learning.
|Douglas Pires, email@example.com|
|My group is primarily involved in the synthesis of materials for applications in light harvesting, energy conversion and biological imaging. Our approach to research includes the following steps: 1. an application or problem is identified; 2. the design of new materials is conceived; 3. Compounds are synthesised and 4. the materials are tested and results are used to make improvements. This means a good understanding of synthesis, characterisation and applications is essential. Projects include: 1. Novel fluorophores for biological imaging. 2. Fluorophores for luminescent solar concentrators and organic lasers. 3. Improving solar cell efficiency by photon refinement: organic dyes for triplet fusion (TF) firstname.lastname@example.org|
|Epigenetics and Neuroplasticity Laboratory (project 2)||We are investigating how genetic and environmental factors combine to cause specific disorders of brain development and function affecting behaviour and cognition, including schizophrenia, autism spectrum disorders, anxiety disorders, depression, Huntington’s disease (a tandem repeat disorder) and dementia. We are interested in the mechanisms whereby specific genes regulate maturation and function of the brain and are dynamically regulated by interaction with the environment. This extends to intergenerational epigenetics, where environmental exposures (including exercise, stress and diet) modulate offspring phenotypes. Our research links data at behavioural and cognitive levels to underlying cellular and molecular mechanisms. We use a variety of behavioural tools, including automated touchscreen testing of cognition and high-throughput data analysis of vocalization and communication, that are directly translatable to clinical tests. We are establishing the extent to which experience-dependent plasticity can modulate these behavioural and cognitive endophenotypes, in models with targeted genome editing. This cellular level of understanding is linked, in turn, to molecular mechanisms, investigated with epigenetic, transcriptomic, proteomic and metabolomic tools. Our latest studies also link the brain and body, via genes and environment, including the microbiome-gut-brain axis. Based on this research, and the identification of key target molecules, we are also exploring the concept of ‘enviromimetics’, therapeutics that mimic or enhance the beneficial effects of cognitive stimulation and physical exercise. One goal is to develop such therapeutic agents to help reduce the personal and societal burdens of devastating disorders of brain and mind.||Tony Hannan, email@example.com|
|Sims Laboratory||Skeletal health is determined by the strength of our bones and how well they can resist breaking. To develop improved therapies for bone fragility (like osteoporosis, or osteogenesis imperfecta) we are working on new ways to stimulate bone formation on the outer surfaces of bone. Increasing bone width in this way will provide a better improvement in bone strength than forming bone on the inside of the structure (which is where current therapies work). In this project, we will characterise the cells located on the outer bone surface within a cellular layer known as the periosteum. Using fluorescent reporters that allow us to identify specific cell populations, we will determine how these cells contribute to bone formation. This project will include at least two of the following methods: 1) cell culture including proliferation/differentiation assays, 2) immunofluorescence and microscopy, and/or 3) RNA isolation and real-time PCR.||Natalie Sims, firstname.lastname@example.org|
|Animal Production Research Group||The animal production research group has internationally recognised expertise in production animal nutrition, physiology and management. Our research spans all production animal species including sheep, cattle, pigs and poultry. Or main research focus is understanding the drivers that underpin production efficiency to improve animal performance.
Our specific areas of research include:
|Kristy Digiacomo, email@example.com|
Applications are now closed for 2022.
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1. What is the application deadline for the Australia Program?
Applications will close on 31 August, 2021. Late applications are not accepted. Please plan for this accordingly, particularly when asking references to fill out the Letter of Recommendation.
2. How do I apply?
Applications will open on 1 July 2021. The application process includes an application form, a letter of recommendation, and a personal statement.
Read more about the application process on the Applications page.
3. What research projects are available?
Please see here for available research projects. Please note these are subject to change. Research projects are available in a variety of fields, and change on a yearly basis depending on what is available.
4. Can I apply for the Amgen Scholars Program if I’ve already finished my undergraduate degree?
No. Amgen Scholars must have at least one year left of their degree (FTE). If you have any questions about your eligibility, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org.
5. Do I need to have previously attended the University of Melbourne to apply to the Amgen Scholars Program?
No. You don’t need to be from the University of Melbourne but to be eligible you must be enrolled as a student at an accredited college or university from across the Australia, New Zealand and Oceania. Foreign nationals need to have work and study rights in Australia to participate in this program.
6. What about housing, food and travel expenses to and from the summer program in Australia?
Financial support is available to all students accepted to the Amgen Scholars Program. Financial support will cover travel, accommodation and associated costs and will be confirmed once successfully admitted to the program.
Amgen Scholars receive the following benefits:
- Stipend paid in two sums, up to $3600
- All accommodation and meals provided at Queen’s College
- Travel Costs including flights and public transport to and from campus
- Additional Benefits include access to athletic and recreational facilities, on campus activities, excursions to other scientific facilities, and weekly lectures.
7. Can I apply to participate in the Amgen Scholars Program in Australia if I am not a science or engineering major?
Yes. Students in any major may apply, although it is expected that most of the Amgen Scholars will have science, life science or engineering majors. Students are expected to have experience in a discipline appropriate to the research project they participate in, with approval from their research lab.
8. Do I need to have research experience prior to being admitted to the Program?
No. The Amgen Scholars Program encourages applications from both students experienced in research and newcomers to the field. We encourage applications from students attending universities where research opportunities are not available.
9. I’ve experienced personal or financial difficulties that mean my study/grades have been affected. Will I be able to share this in my application?
Yes, we encourage applications from students who may come from difficult circumstances. This will be taken into consideration.
10. Can I participate as an Amgen Scholar for more than one summer?
No. Students are invited to participate as an Amgen Scholar for one summer only. This ensures that the largest possible number of students get to experience the program.
11. Can I apply to participate as an Amgen Scholar at multiple institutions?
Yes. The Asia Program is open to undergraduates worldwide, so students eligible to apply to the Australian Program may be eligible to apply for the Asia Program as well. You will need to apply directly to each institution. However, you may not attend more than one Amgen Scholars Program.
Please contact us if you have any questions about the Amgen Scholars Program.
Amgen Scholars Program Coordinator
Faculty of Science