Amgen Scholars Program
Research in the real world.
The Amgen Scholars Program is an international program that gives 15 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 2021 ASP, you will have finished your second year at the end of 2020 and expect to graduate at the end of 2021.)
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.
Applicants experiencing financial or personal hardship are encouraged to apply. Students from linguistically diverse, rural, international or Indigenous backgrounds are also encouraged to apply.
Important Dates for 2021 Applicants
- Applications open: 1 July 2020
- Applications close: 31 October 2020 – extended from 31 August
- Program Dates: Monday 4 January 2021 – Friday 26 February 2021
- AMGEN Scholars Symposium: Friday 19 February 2021
Please only apply if you are available for the entirety of the program and can commit to living in Melbourne for 8 weeks.
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 2021 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 firstname.lastname@example.org.
|Metabolic Proteomics and Signal Transduction||The Metabolic Proteomics and Signal Transduction Group is focused on understanding how signal transduction regulates metabolism with the goal of identifying new therapeutic targets to treat metabolic disease. We are particularly interested in studying dynamic changes in proteins and their post-translational modifications, and understanding how these are regulated by genetic variants and metabolic insults to ultimately shape cellular physiology. We use a multi-disciplinary approach incorporating proteomics, cell biology, molecular biology, and physiology, and have a vast collaborative network of computational biologists, geneticists, tissue engineers, stem cell biologists and experts in molecular therapies. In this project you will gain experience working with cells and mice, and will use biochemistry and mass spectrometry to understand how defective signalling contributes to insulin resistance and type-2 diabetes.||Ben Parker, email@example.com|
|Scott lab||The Scott lab focuses on the application of mass spectrometry (MS)-based methodologies to characterise biological systems. The key focus of the lab is understanding how pathogens of the Burkholderia genus cause disease and why proteins decorated with carbohydrates influence Burkholderia pathogenesis. Currently we offer projects in two areas: Understanding the Role of O-linked glycosylation across the Burkholderia genus. Protein glycosylation, the chemical addition of sugars to proteins, is an important but poorly understood aspect of bacterial physiology. Within the Burkholderia genus, we have discovered a highly conserved O-linked glycosylation system. The conservation of this system across pathogenic and non-pathogenic species suggests that glycosylation plays a far more fundamental role in the physiology of Burkholderia than previously thought. The goal of this project is to understand the role of glycosylation in Burkholderia species. The long-term goal of this project is to learn how we can target protein glycosylation to generate new antimicrobial agents, and how we can exploit bacterial glycosylation systems to generate novel glycoconjugates such as vaccines. Development of novel proteomic tools to explore Burkholderia pathogenesis. Multiple bacterial species escape detection and removal by the host immune system by hiding within cells. Understanding how bacteria create hospitable intracellular environments is critical for developing approaches to help prevent infections in immunocompromised individuals. Within this project, we aim to explore state of the art approaches to track and quantify proteomic changes at the intracellular host pathogen interface. By understanding the proteome changes associated with Burkholderia cenocepacia (a serious opportunistic infection of CF sufferers) infections this will lead to a deeper understanding of the molecular pathogenesis of this pathogen.||Nichollas Scott, firstname.lastname@example.org|
|Polyzos Laboratory||Research in our laboratory focussed on the discovery of methods in synthetic organic chemistry that lead to the development of new pharmaceuticals. We are developing methods that achieve the direct synthesis of structurally diverse and complex biologically molecules with the enzyme-like efficiency observed in Nature. We pursue these challenges though the development of catalytic methods to enable the direct functionalisation of C-H bonds via transition metal and photochemical catalysis. Secondly, we have a profound interest developing new technologies for pharmaceutical manufacturing in Space. Our research team utilises flow chemistry technology and new light harvesting chemical reactions to enable the generation of medicines in a microgravity environment to meet the demand for long term space exploration and interplanetary colonisation by humans.||Anastasios Polyzos – email@example.com
|Structural Biology and Bioinformatics||Treating the person not the disease Genomic sequencing is being more routinely used to diagnose patients with genetic diseases, including cancer, and optimise treatment strategies. In order to realise the power of genomic information in clinical settings, we need new tools to rapidly assess the functional impact of novel variants. We have developed a range of computational tools to deconvolute the molecular consequences of coding variants giving rise to different phenotypes and clinical outcomes. The same disease phenotype, in turn, may arise from many different mutations that alter a patient’s outcome or how they may respond to a particular treatment. By analysing these mutations and predicting their effects on protein structure and function we are trying to revolutionise treatment strategies, an important step towards personalised medicine. We are currently working on a range of diseases including genetic diseases (Alkaptonuria, Urea cycle disorders, VHL), cancer (renal carcinomas, gangliomas, prostate cancer), and drug/vaccine resistance (TB, cancer, malaria, HIV, influenza). These projects will use computational (bioinformatics)) approaches to unravel the molecular mechanisms driving these mutations and derive novel predictive methods to guide patient treatment. One of the ultimate goals of these projects will be the development of webservers enabling the rapid analysis of mutations to help guide clinical decisions. This project will suit students with some familiarity with Linux operating systems and computer coding (Python). Techniques used will include: – Protein structure analysis – In silico mutation analysis – Machine learning and neural networks – Webserver development||David Ascher – firstname.lastname@example.org|
|Therapeutics Discovery and Vascular Function in Pregnancy||We are passionate and dynamic group, with the unified goal of discovering and translating new approaches to combat major complications of pregnancy, especially preeclampsia, fetal growth restriction and pre-term birth. Our research is focused on the development of novel therapeutics that are safe to be used in pregnancy, as well as designing novel approaches to deliver therapies directly to the placenta, or the mother’s uterine wall or her vasculature. Our pre-clinical research has led to a number of exciting clinical trials both internationally and nationally. We use sophisticated assays and technology as well as highly sought after human and animal models to understand the pathophysiology of the most serious diseases/syndromes of pregnancy, and to pre-clinically test leading candidate therapeutic strategies.||A/Prof Natalie Hannan – email@example.com|
|Molecular Genetics and Fungal Pathogenesis Lab||Research Interests: Understanding the molecular genetic mechanisms that regulate cellular morphogenesis and virulence in the human pathogen Talaromyces marneffei. Understanding the molecular genetic mechanisms that regulate development in the eukaryotic model organism Aspergillus nidulans. Potential project areas: • Genomic approaches to identifying and characterising genes important for infection. • Dissecting the molecular and cellular aspects of host-pathogen interactions. • Molecular genetic characterisation of transcriptional factors, and their circuits, controlling development.||Alex Andrianopoulos – firstname.lastname@example.org|
|Functional Materials Group||The use of polymeric materials for biomedicine has generated significant interest in the last twenty years. Dr Such and the Functional Materials group use expertise in the design of engineered polymer nanostructures to build new biomedically relevant materials such as antimicrobial agents or vaccine delivery systems. The group is particularly interested in understanding the structure property relationships relating nanoparticle structure to biological response in order to better optimise polymer materials in the future. Some general research projects that are currently under way in the Functional Materials group include: – Design of polymer-protein conjugates to improve cell targeting of nanoparticles to dendritic cells. This project involves the design of a polymer initiator based on a protein starting material. This initiator will be used to facilitate polymerisation. Nanoparticle assembly of the hybrid material will then be investigated. – Synthesis of star polymers with multiple antibiotics for combination treatment of bacterial biofilms. This project involves the synthesis of functional monomers incorporating antibiotic drugs and their incorporation into a star polymer backbone. These materials will be tested for their ability to kill bacterial biofilms.||Georgina Such – email@example.com|
|Stuart-Fox Lab – Biology of light and colour||Our research group focuses on the biology of colour in animals – how it is produced and perceived (animal vision), it’s function and adaptive significance. We focus not just on visible colour, but on wavelengths of sunlight invisible to humans, especially the near-infrared. Near-infrared properties are important for thermal balance – how quickly animals warm up in the sun. We use a range of different techniques including spectrometry (how surfaces reflect light), electron microscopy, behavioural experiments, field and laboratory experiments, and computational modelling. At the moment, we are mainly working on colourful beetles, but also on other invertebrates. We are interested in the applications of our research to bio-inspired technologies (optics and materials). Available projects will focus on the adaptive significance of near-infrared properties in invertebrates (different options) or the visual ecology of jewel beetles. Lab website: https://devistuartfox.com/ BioInspiration Research Initiative: https://research.unimelb.edu.au/bioinspiration||Amanda Franklin and Devi Stuart-Fox – firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com|
|Neural Networks||The goal of the Neural Networks laboratory at the Florey Institute is to understand the neural activity contributing to perception and behaviour in the mammalian brain. Individual neurons are continuously bombarded with thousands of synaptic inputs which must integrate to generate an internal representation of the external environment. We investigate how the brain processes this sensory information by measuring the activity of neurons within the neocortex. In particular, we measure the activity of dendrites, which actively transform synaptic inputs into neuronal output. We use various techniques to record from neurons in vivo including two photon calcium imaging, somatic and dendritic patch-clamp recordings and optogenetics. Through our work, we not only aim to reveal how sensory information is received, transformed and modulated in neurons, but also how this processing of synaptic input contributes to the overall neural network activity underlying behaviour.||Lucy Palmer – Lucy.firstname.lastname@example.org|
|Physical Organic Chemistry (Wille), Plant Biochemistry (Roessner)||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 (School of Chemistry), Ute Roessner (School of BioSciences) – email@example.com|
|Peptide Chemistry Lab||Novel methods for peptide synthesis: We are investigating novel synthetic methods for constructing functionalised peptides. We recently developed a new silver-promoted reaction of thioamides and carboxylic acids that generates peptide bonds and have employed this methodology in new peptide ligation and cyclization processes. Projects available include the synthesis of N-methyl cyclic peptides, and the use of thioamides in the native chemical ligation of peptides. We also have projects on the design and synthesis of biologically active cyclic peptides such as celogentin and teixobactin. Novel strategies for the stereoselective synthesis of unusual amino acids and efficient preparation of the side-chain cross-links present in these peptides are critical to their ultimate synthesis. Synthesised peptides are then assayed for their biological properties, such as antibacterial and anti-tumour activity.||Craig Hutton – firstname.lastname@example.org|
|NMR and Membrane Biophysics||Biologically active peptides: the relationship between structure and activity We have identified peptides from the skin glands of frogs, which are amongst the most powerful biologically active compounds in the animal kingdom. The aims of this project are to investigate the relationship between the structure and biologically activity of chosen groups of peptides such as antimicrobial peptides, which may be used as alternatives to conventional antibiotics. Solid-state NMR is being used to determine the insertion and structure of these membrane-active peptides in model membranes and in live bacteria, since these peptides act by lysing cell membranes.||Professor Frances Separovic – email@example.com|
|Bioanalytical Mass Spectrometry Laboratory||Bioanalytical Chemistry: Quantitative Mass Spectrometry-based Lipidomics and Proteomics to Identify Functional Biomarkers of Disease Lipids play key functional roles in a variety of cellular processes, including as regulatory components of biological membranes and membrane protein signaling complexes, in energy homeostasis, and as bioactive intra- and inter-cellular signaling molecules. Furthermore, the dysregulation of lipid metabolism is known to be associated with the onset and progression of several diseases, including cancer, diabetes and neurodegeneration. In order to understand the functional role of lipids (and proteins) in these diseases, research in the Reid lab is broadly focused on the development and application of enabling analytical (bio)chemistry, mass spectrometry and associated chemical strategies for quantitative ‘lipidome’ and ‘proteome’ analysis. This research is inter-disciplinary and highly collaborative, with lab members typically obtaining a wide range of complementary research skills and expertise across the chemical and biological sciences.||Gavin E. Reid – firstname.lastname@example.org|
|Donnelly Research Group||Research in the group focuses on synthetic inorganic chemistry and its application to biology.||Paul Donnelly – email@example.com|
|Epigenetics & Neural Plasticity Lab, Florey Institute of Neuroscience and Mental Health||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.||Prof. Anthony Hannan – firstname.lastname@example.org|
|Neuropeptide receptor||G protein-coupled receptors (GPCRs) are the most important cellular sensors in the human body and drugs targeting GPCRs account for ~40% of all prescription drugs. Conversely, over 85% (>310 receptors) of the GPCR family is not currently targeted by drugs. In particular peptide GPCRs, although linked to the pathogenesis of many diseases, have proved to be especially difficult to target with drugs. The reason for this is that very little is known about the molecular mechanisms underlying GPCR binding and activation, thus hampering drug development. Our laboratory targets GPCRs for drug development utilizing state-of-the-art molecular pharmacology, biochemical and real-time cell signalling assay techniques. These techniques enable us to map the native ligand binding sites of these receptors and determine the mechanisms of receptor activation as well their cell signalling characteristics. A complete understanding of the mechanism of ligand binding and activation is required to design drugs targeting these receptors. Furthermore, we are utilizing novel protein engineering techniques that enable these normally highly unstable proteins to be produced and purified for structural studies using advanced protein NMR techniques, crystallography and Cryo-EM. These studies are complemented by peptide drug development projects and small molecule screening projects with collaborators. Additionally, we are working with pharmaceutical industry partners (e.g. Takeda and Novartis) to facilitate drug development efforts. Projects are available on multiple GPCR targets with training in various techniques as outlined above.||Professor Ross Bathgate – email@example.com|
|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
|A/Professor Michael Hildebrand – firstname.lastname@example.org|
|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
Applications now extended until 31 October 2020.
The application process includes the following, via the application form:
- Identify your top 3 research interests and preferred lab placement
- Provide your official academic transcript
- Download the Letter of Recommendation form and ask a Course Coordinator, Academic Advisor or Subject Coordinator (or equivalent) from your home institution to provide a reference.
- Prepare a written bio and impact statement outlining:
- what excites you about your research interests
- why you want to be an Amgen Scholar
- what you hope to achieve through the program
- how the program will support your intention to enrol in postgraduate study
1. What is the application deadline for the Australia Program?
The application deadline is now September 20, 2020 for the 2021 Summer Program. 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 open on 1 July 2020 for the 2021 Summer Program.
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
- 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