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.
The program encourages applications from First Nations applicants. Applicants who have experienced adversity, financial difficulty, or otherwise challenging circumstances are also encouraged to apply.
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, #33 in the world, and has the largest cohort of research students in Australia.
The Program provides students with an enrichment program 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. Queen’s College also supports a range of extracurricular activities.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org.
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 2023 ASP, you will have finished your second year at the end of 2022 and expect to graduate at the end of 2023.) This does not include Honours.
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 2022
Applications close: 31 August 2022
Outcomes released: 1 November 2022
Program commences: 4 January 2023
Program concludes: 24 February 2023
Applications for the 2023 Amgen Scholars Program are now closed.
To receive updates about the program, sign up for the mailing list here.
Accommodation, pastoral care, dining and extracurricular activities are provided for the duration of the program at the historic Queen’s College, located on College Crescent next to the University of Melbourne.
Queen’s is one of Melbourne University’s larger colleges, featuring beautiful student spaces set in landscaped gardens. Facilities include the fully furnished student rooms, numerous studio and rehearsal spaces, a spacious library, and the Eakins dining hall. Scholars are provided with a private room for the duration of the program.
The College is perfectly located, a quick tram-ride away from the centre of Melbourne and a few minutes’ walk from the popular restaurants and shops of Lygon Street Carlton.
Throughout the program, Amgen Scholars Program participants can use the wonderful facilities Queen’s College has to offer while being close to their research laboratory. Weekly seminars are run throughout the program, facilitated at Queen’s.
Learn more about Queen's College
Questions about the accommodation and facilities provided through Queen’s College should be directed to email@example.com.
Available projects will be added to the site as they become available for the 2023 round. Please note that these are subject to change.
Lab head emails are for project specific queries only. If you have any general queries about the program, please email firstname.lastname@example.org.
|Lab head||Lab name||Project summary||Contact email|
|Daniel Heath||Biomaterials and Tissue Engineering Lab||Biomaterials are used to fabricate biomedical devices, tissue engineering scaffolds, and cell- and organ-on-a-chip devices, and the interactions between the material and the biological environment is critical to the success of the device. The Biomaterials and Tissue Engineering Lab focuses on development new materials that exhibit improved interactions with the biological environment.
In this project, students will evaluate the performance of biomaterials through cell culture assays, advanced microscopy and image analysis techniques, and molecular biology studies. Outputs from this work will lead to new materials that improve the performance of devices across a range of applications.
|Senaka Ranadheera||Probiotic Food Research Group||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 email@example.com|
|Jonathan White||White Group Laboratory||The student will work on a project synthesising a drug precursor which has been established to inhibit certain proteins associated with cancer proliferation. The precursor molecule will be radio labelled with the radioactive isotope 18-F for the purposes of positron-emission-tomography (PET)imaging of tumours at the Austin Hospital.||firstname.lastname@example.org|
|Prof Anthony Hannan||Epigenetics and Neural Plasticity Lab||We are interested in how genes and environment combine to sculpt brain development and function, in health and disease. We have examined the role of various molecular and cellular mediators, and environmental modulators, as they influence healthy cognitive and affective function on the one hand, and cognitive and affective disorders on the other. These findings have been extended to include environmental manipulations in models of various brain disorders, including autism, schizophrenia, depression and anxiety disorders. We have also discovered altered brain-body interactions, including the first evidence of gut dysbiosis (dysregulated microbiota) in Huntington’s disease, and a preclinical model of schizophrenia. Ongoing studies are exploring the gut microbiome as a therapeutic target and the possibility that specific environmental factors may modulate brain function via microbiota-gut-brain interactions. In a parallel program of research, we have been exploring epigenetic inheritance via the paternal lineage. We have discovered the transgenerational effects of various paternal environmental exposures. Our findings reveal significant experience-dependent effects on cognitive and affective function of offspring via epigenetic inheritance. We are investigating the relevance of these discoveries in mice to human transgenerational epigenetics and associated ‘epigenopathy’. Our ongoing studies are exploring mechanisms whereby experience can modify germ cells and associated sperm epigenetics, and how these epigenetic modifications (of mice and men) may modulate offspring phenotypes and their potential susceptibility to various brain email@example.com|
|A/Prof. Michael Hildebrand||Translational Neurogenetics Laboratory||Title: Genetic Testing of Small Tissue Specimens from Vascular Malformations for Molecular Diagnosis
Brief Description: An expanding range of treatments targeted at specific mutations are becoming available for children with severe vascular malformations. However, access to genetic testing and funding remain significant barriers to genetic diagnosis of these children. This is despite significant progress in understanding the molecular pathogenesis of these disorders in recent years. Here we introduce a new diagnostic strategy for children with vascular malformations to identify the underlying genetic cause in almost half of those tested by detecting somatic mosaicism at low variant allele fraction using DNA derived from small tissue specimens such as punch biopsies.
Methods: We will apply a tiered diagnostic strategy to individuals with intractable vascular malformations prior to further genomic sequencing including: 1) reanalysis of existing clinical exome data utilizing our bioinformatic pipeline with somatic variant calling to interrogate genes associated with vascular malformations; 2) droplet digital PCR (ddPCR) for sensitive detection of low variant allele fraction mosaicism; and 3) Sanger sequencing of specific hotspot regions of genes associated with vascular malformations.
Preliminary Data: We have studied 29 patients with vascular malformations, identifying pathogenic somatic variants in 13/29 (45%). Solved cases included 12 low flow lesions and one high flow lesion. In two patients with prior non-diagnostic tissue-based exome sequencing, reanalysis of existing exome data identified the causative variant. We utilized ddPCR assays to identify known recurrent PIK3CA variants in 8 patients with variant allele fractions between 1-18% in affected tissue; a recurrent TEK variant was identified in one patient. In two patients Sanger sequencing identified pathogenic variants in GNAQ and PIK3CA respectively.
Rationale, Hypothesis and Aims: Children with severe vascular malformations may be eligible for trials of targeted therapeutic interventions based on the identification of specific pathogenic variants. We will demonstrate the efficacy of a flexible, tiered diagnostic strategy including ddPCR, a cost-effective and sensitive method for detecting recurrent low-level mosaic variants that are often present in individuals with vascular malformations. The application of ddPCR provides the opportunity to detect low allele fraction variants from very small tissue samples such as punch biopsies. At present, such testing is not typically available through government funded pathology centres in Australia. Specialists caring for these children could consider contacting tertiary vascular centres in order to access targeted ddPCR and sequencing. If a pathogenic variant is detected, the child may be eligible for a targeted therapy.
Hypothesis: Somatic mutagenesis plays an important role in causation of intractable vascular malformations and provides opportunities for targeted therapies
Aim 1: To demonstrate the utility of a tiered genetic screening methodology for patients with vascular malformations
Aim 2: To determine the clinical efficacy of two targeted therapies when given according to genetic diagnosis in patients with vascular malformations who are refractory to standard therapy
|Lucy Palmer||Neural Networks Laboratory||Our goal is to understand the neural activity contributing to decision making, learning and memory 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 vast 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 learning and memory.
|Megan Maher||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 firstname.lastname@example.org|
|Dr Ivanhoe Leung||Leung Research Group: Research at the Chemistry & Biology Interface||Our research group conducts multidisciplinary research to study enzymes with a focus on structure, function and modulation. We aim to utilise our knowledge to help solve some of the world’s most urgent challenges. These include studying mutant enzymes that cause diseases such as cancers, targeting bacterial enzymes that cause antibiotic resistance, as well as harnessing the catalytic activity of enzymes to break down environmental pollutants.
A key step of our work involves the production and purification of recombinant proteins. In this summer project, you will conduct experiments to genetically modify microorganisms to produce recombinant proteins as well as optimising the procedure for protein purification. If time permits, you will also have the opportunity to use biophysical tools (such as mass spectrometry) to characterise the proteins that you will make.
There are no formal prerequisites although an understanding of basic molecular biology and an enthusiasm in enzymology will be helpful. Training and supervision will be provided throughout the summer period. You will be an integral part of our research group and contribute to the generation of new knowledge for scientific publications.
Examples of recent work from our group that include contribution from summer students (*):
Correddu, D.; Montaño López, J. d. J.*; Angermayr, S. A.; Middleditch, M. J.; Payne, L. S.; Leung, I. K. H. Effect of Consecutive Rare Codons on the Recombinant Production of Human Proteins in Escherichia coli. IUBMB Life 2020, 72, 266–274.
Correddu, D.; Montaño López, J. d. J.*; Vadakkedath, P. G.; Lai, A.*; Pernes, J. I.*; Watson, P. R.*; Leung, I. K. H. An Improved Method for the Heterologous Production of Soluble Human Ribosomal Proteins in Escherichia coli. Sci. Rep. 2019, 9, 8884.
Please feel free to contact me by email if you would like to find out more about our research!
|Craig Hutton||Hutton Lab||The Hutton lab research interests include the development of novel synthetic methods for the assembly and functionalization of peptides, the synthesis of biologically active cyclic peptide natural products, and the development of radiolabelled peptides for cancer email@example.com|
|Douglas Pires||Pires Group||Title: Computer-aided drug design: predicting and mitigating drug toxicity
Summary: A significant proportion of drug candidates fail clinical trials due to safety concerns denoted by poor toxicity profiles. Experimentally characterising different toxicity measures in vitro and in vivo is usually costly and time-consuming. Computational methods capable of identifying safe drug candidates early in the drug discovery process can assist in increasing the chances of success of a therapeutic, reducing cost and development time. This project aims to build the next generation of tools to predict and optimise toxicity profiles of drug candidates using machine learning and graph modelling, building on earlier efforts (https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4434528). These will assist the drug discovery pipeline by identifying and mitigating potential toxicity effects early in development.
Keywords: Machine learning, Bioinformatics, Cheminformatics, Graph Modelling, Drug Discovery, Health Informatics
|Professor Ross Bathgate||Neuropeptide receptor laboratory||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 neuropeptide 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 Nuclear magnetic resonance (NMR) 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 firstname.lastname@example.org|
|Alex Andrianopoulos||Fungal Molecular Genetics Lab||Research in the lab is focused on understanding the molecular genetic mechanisms that control how genes are turned on and off. To do this we predominantly study two experimental systems:
– The first focuses on the human pathogen Talaromyces marneffei, a small eukaryotic fungus that infects humans and ultimately leads to death of the infected host if untreated. By understanding how the fungus infects humans and causes disease we can develop strategies to control and combat fungal diseases.
In addition to the fundamental knowledge about how organisms function, the work also has important implications for developing new or improved applications for the use of fungi in biotechnology.
|Natalie Wee||Bone Cell Biology & Disease||Skeletal health is determined by the strength of our bones and how well they can resist breaking. We are interested in studying the specific cell types within bone that promote bone formation. These include periosteal cells on the outer layer of bone, and those embedded within bone known as osteocytes. To be identify these cells and examine their spatial localisation within bone, we have genetically tagged mouse models with fluorescent reporters specific to bone-forming cells. This project will investigate key questions including identifying where these cells are, how many there are in each location, and how they respond to a known stimulus. This project will focus on sectioning frozen bone, mounting and staining sections, scanning sections, and evaluating them for differences. There will also be opportunities to participate in primary cell culture and fluorescent genotyping, as well as to observe other bone research methods being used by others in our research email@example.com|
|Rachael Richardson||Optogenetics Research Group||Optogenetics is a biological technique to control the activity of neurons with light. This is achieved by expression of light-sensitive ion channels specifically in the target cells. The optogenetics program at the Bionics Institute encompasses projects with the broad aim of using optogenetics for precise and selective neuromodulation.
Optogenetics is a technology that overcomes the lack of specificity of electrical neuromodulation by modifying selective target neurons in a mixed neural population with light sensitive ion channels. These ion channels can be excitatory or inhibitory, providing unprecedented control over neural activity that is difficult to achieve safely with electrical stimulation. Moreover, light can be confined more easily than electric fields, thus providing higher resolution with fewer side-effects.
We are applying optogenetic technologies to sensory prostheses, deep brain stimulation and the peripheral nervous system. Our work involves genetic manipulation of neural populations in rodents, implantation of biomedical devices, electrophysiological recording and analysis, and behavioural assays. This project will suit a student with an interest in neuroscience and biomedical engineering.
|Prof Colette McKay||Human Hearing Group||This is a unique opportunity to explore the intersection between neuroscience, clinical practices, and a disorder seriously affecting 400 million people.
Hearing loss is one of the most common neurological disorders in the world, manifesting in many different forms. People suffering from hearing loss face many difficulties in everyday life: it impacts language acquisition for children and speech recognition for adults. The Human Hearing Research team at the Bionics Institute explores objective ways to measure different neurological limitations related to hearing loss. We are a multi-disciplinary team of engineers, clinicians, and scientists who work with people ranging from normal hearing infants to grandparents with cochlear implants to better understand their hearing journey. To do so, we use state-of-the-art technologies such as functional near infrared spectroscopy and direct electrode stimulation of the auditory nerve. We devise new clinical protocols and use the data gathered to build machine learning models which improve the diagnostic capacity of neurological conditions for people suffering from hearing loss.
We welcome you to join our research team during your break. As a part of the team, you will explore how different neurological limitations manifest in a variety of hearing outcomes
|A/Prof Andrew Wise||Bionic Auditory Neurosciences Group||Hearing loss related to noise exposure or ageing is associated with the loss of hair cells, auditory neurons and synapses formed between them. There currently is no drug treatment for hearing loss and therefore a significant demand for the development of a therapy to regenerate synaptic function. The aim of this project is to develop therapeutic drug delivery technology using nanoengineering to treat hearing firstname.lastname@example.org|
|Prof James Fallon||Peripheral Interfaces & Neuromodulation Group||The use of electric medicine devices to stimulate the autonomic nervous system has given rise to a broad range of promising new treatments for autoimmune diseases and chronic conditions and has gained significant momentum in the medical research community. However, most devices used to deliver bioelectric therapy are open-loop and provide a fixed level of stimulation that does not respond to individual needs. The next generation of bioelectric neuromodulation devices aim to provide closed loop (adaptive) control, in which the level of stimulation adjusts to a patient’s rapidly changing needs. The Peripheral Interface Neuromodulation Team at the Bionics Institute are developing a range of vagus nerve devices to prevent the recurrence of Crohn’s disease; and are developing similar devices to reduce inflammation in rheumatoid arthritis; and lower blood sugar levels in type 2 diabetes, in addition to a peripheral nerve device to improve bladder control. This approach offers exciting possibilities for the future treatment of autoimmune diseases and chronic email@example.com|
|Paul Donnelly||Donnelly Lab||Research in the Donnelly lab focuses on synthetic inorganic chemistry and its application to firstname.lastname@example.org|
|Mark Rizzacasa||Organic Synthesis||The main focus of our research is the asymmetric synthesis of bioactive natural products and analogues and the development of new synthetic methods in organic chemistry. This includes synthesis of oxygen containing heterocyclic compounds and the application of pericyclic reactions in the synthesis of natural products. We are also have a program of analogue synthesis and medicinal chemistry and well a total synthesis inspired by biosynthesis or ‘biomimetic’ email@example.com|
|David Jones||Organic Electronics Laboratory||A/Prof Jones develops new organic electronic materials for printed solar cells. His laboratory focuses on the development of new materials with exciting new properties. It is expected the student will, depending on their interests, with synthesise new singlet fission materials or complete a study looking at the spectroscopic properties on new singlet fission materials. Singlet fission is a fundamental process where two new quantum coupled states are generated from a single excited state and promises to significantly enhance the efficiency of solar firstname.lastname@example.org|
|Wallace Wong||Organic Materials Lab||My group is primarily involved in the synthesis of materials for applications in light harvesting, energy conversion, and chemical sensing. 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 good understanding of synthesis, characterisation and applications is essential.
1. Novel fluorophores for chemical sensing and biological imaging.
2. Fluorophores for luminescent solar concentrators and organic lasers.
3. Improving solar cell efficiency by photon refinement: organic dyes for triplet fusion upconversion.
|Georgina K Such||Functional Materials LAb||Engineering Smarter Nanoparticles for Nucleic Acid Delivery Nucleic acids have significant potential for modifying the function of cells however they are limited by low stability in biological conditions. This has led to the development of nanoparticle technology as delivery systems. Stimuli-responsive nanoparticles are particularly attractive for this application as they can be engineered to evade detection by the immune system, target specific cells and to control cargo release in response to specific stimuli. However, one of the critical challenges in achieving efficient nucleic acid delivery is effective delivery of the therapeutic cargo in the target region of the cell. In this project we will design a series of polymer nanoparticles with different stimuli-responsive moieties and load them with nucleic acid cargo. These nanoparticles will be used to probe the impact of different stimuli-responsive moieties on trafficking of the nanoparticles into the active region of the cell. This work will allow the development of nanoparticles with improved delivery of nucleic acids and thus these systems will be attractive for further study in gene delivery email@example.com|
|Alistair Legione and Paola Vaz||Asia Pacific Centre for Animal Health||Rapid detection of infectious diseases can improve the outcomes for those species suffering from them, or improve our biosecurity response to minimise further transmission. Our work will look at developing molecular rapid diagnostic tests using loop-mediated isothermal amplification (LAMP) techniques. These tests allow for detection of genomic material of our pathogen of interest using highly sensitive and specific methods, and can produce results in under an hour. These methods are ideal for testing for infectious viruses that affect wildlife, as decisions need to be made rapidly and traditional diagnostic techniques can take several days to return a result compared to point of care rapid tests. This project will look to develop a LAMP assay for diagnosis of a viral disease affecting wildlife, and compare the test to currently available molecular firstname.lastname@example.org , email@example.com|
|Dr. Suzie Sheehy||Particle Accelerator Laboratory||The Medical Accelerator Physics group has two experimental opportunities available for summer 2023 to work using real particle accelerators for research projects that will contribute to the future of either particle collider technology or new medical technologies e.g for more precise cancer treatment using ‘particle therapy’. – The X-LAB: X-band Laboratory for Accelerators is like a mini-CERN in the basement of the School of Physics. In fact, the lab is literally a part of CERN and developed in collaboration with them! Starting up in late 2022, this newly established lab is the first of its kind in the Southern Hemisphere, and will work toward compact particle accelerator technologies for the future of particle physics, but also for societal applications. – TURBO: Technology for Ultra-Rapid Beam Optimisation, is a novel concept to speed up patient treatment using ultra-precise form of radiotherapy, i.e. particle therapy. A student will have the opportunity to work with the team on experiments using a real proton accelerator known as a ‘pelletron’.||firstname.lastname@example.org|
|Assoc-Prof Jenny Gunnersen||Neuron Development and Plasticity||Our broad research goal is to understand how neurons become connected to each other to form functional circuits. We investigate the formation of dendritic branches and synapses, the connections between neurons, in order to understand these processes in development and disease. Changes in the number and strength of synaptic connections (plasticity) are vital for the development of effective neuronal circuitry and for learning and memory in the healthy brain. On the other hand, abnormal synapse numbers and activity are defining features of neurological disorders. Learning more about dendrite and synapse development and function in the healthy brain will help us decipher the aberrant molecular pathways responsible for cognitive disorders such as mental retardation, epilepsy, schizophrenia and dementia. Research in the Gunnersen laboratory is focussed on: the molecular and cellular mechanisms controlling synapse development, synapse loss in the earliest stages of Alzheimer’s disease and how this might be slowed or prevented, synapse formation/strengthening and how these processes contribute to the pathology of psychostimulant abuse and neuropathic email@example.com; firstname.lastname@example.org|
1. What is the application deadline for the Australia Program?
Applications will close on 31 August, 2022. 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 2022. 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). This does not include Honours (i.e. if you only have Honours semesters left, you are not eligible for the program). If you have any questions about your eligibility, please contact email@example.com.
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.
12. What if I was a mid-year entry to my degree and therefore will only have 1.5 years of my degree completed at the time of the program?
Apply anyway! We take mid year entry into consideration. As long as you still have 1 year FTE left of credits in your program, and have completed at least 1 year of FTE completed, you are eligible for the program.
The Huong (Kevin) Chau, Macquarie University
Kevin was part of the inaugural Melbourne Amgen Scholars Program cohort in 2020. Since the program, he has continued to pursue a research career. He graduated from a Master of Research in 2022 and is currently a PhD candidate in glycomics and glycoproteomics at Macquarie University.
His experience in the Amgen Scholars Program gave Kevin an insight and invaluable skills that he’s utilised in his ongoing research. Kevin says, “Working with Prof Gavin Reid in the lipidomics field also increased my interest in expanding my knowledge in the -omics research to other areas including glycomics and glycoproteomics. During my time at ASP, I strengthened a lot of lab skills that I had not had a chance to get my hands on during my Undergraduate. In addition, I was grateful to be exposed and make connections with plenty of academics as well as people working in the industry, which is definitely helpful for developing my career as a research scientist.”
Reflecting on the program, Kevin says he would recommend the program to any potential applicants after his experience: “I would highly recommend everyone to apply for this program as this is going to the lifetime experience that you are never going to forget. What would be greater than spending two months in Melbourne doing the things you love and making connections with other scholars sharing the same interest with you? The Amgen Scholars Program is a great experience to be exposed to the research and academic world.”
Kevin has gone on to receive multiple scholarships and awards in the few years since he attended ASP, including most recently the University Medal for Chemistry and Biomolecular Science. He continues to work with the Analytical Glycoimmunology Team at Macquarie University.
Yohaann Ghosh, Griffith University (formerly Sydney University)
Our Amgen Scholars Program alumni have been able to utilise the skills gained through ASP in their careers, and Yohaann Ghosh is no exception. Yohaan worked with A/Prof Kathryn Stok during the 2020 Amgen Scholars Program, completing a project focused on tissue engineering for osteoarthritis.
Yohaann says the program continues to benefit him in the years after the program. “To this day I still reap benefits from my time as an Amgen Scholar be that in academia, industry or clinical practice. Moreover, I was able to develop lifelong friendships with fellow scholars who share the same passion and enthusiasm for biotechnology and life sciences research,” says Yohaann.
When asked what advice he would give to someone thinking about applying to the program, Yohann says: “Just apply! As long as you’re keen and willing to turn up to the lab every morning then you’ll make the perfect Amgen Scholar. The benefits of the program extend way beyond your project alone. You’ll get to know industry leaders, learn how to present in front of large groups, and work as part of a research team – all highly transferable skills that aren’t taught in standard undergraduate curriculums.”
Furthermore, the Amgen Scholars Program was key in shaping his current career pathway. “The Amgen Scholars Program is the most well-funded and best-supported undergraduate research program in the southern hemisphere. The combination of practical lab experience and commercialisation training were the catalysts for my current pursuit in translational research – moving ideas from benchtop to bedside.”
Since the program, Yohaann has continued to study at dental school, teach anatomy & histology at Sydney Medical School, obtain further research scholarships in tissue engineering, published novel surgical techniques for facial reconstruction in peer-reviewed journals, and has had a textbook chapter recently accepted by Springer Nature for release in 2023.
Read more about Yohaann’s work here.
Thomas (Phu Minh Triet) Nguyen, the University of Adelaide
Amgen Scholars participants come to the program with many different motivations and inspirations. Thomas (Phu Minh Triet) Nguyen travelled from the University of Adelaide to undertake research after his mother experienced cancer when he was young. During his time in Melbourne, he investigated the underlying mechanism of intestinal cell death induced by tyrosine kinase inhibitor (TKI) of the human epidermal growth factor receptor (HER) family using a simple cell line model, under the supervision of Professor Ross Bathgate.
“Something that motivates me to pursue this research is dedicating it to my mum, Thuy. She was diagnosed with breast cancer while she was pregnant with my little brother back in 2004. I still remember watching my mom suffering from severe side effects of the breast cancer treatment. I promised to myself to become a scientist to study the underlying mechanism of breast cancer treatment-induced gut toxicities so that the outcome of my research could contribute to a tiny part in helping patients with breast cancer like my mum.”
Thomas’s experiences at the Amgen Scholars Program were key in building his research skills and preparing him for further research. To prospective applicants, he advises: “Whether you are looking for your first hands-on experience or gaining more research experience in a particular research area of interest, go for it! Participating in the ASP is a once in-a-lifetime experience. It’s not only about academic achievement but also about professional and personal maturity.”
Thomas is now continuing to study, now completing his Masters degree and working as an academic tutor in physiology.
Inoli Wadumesthrige Don, University of Canterbury
The amazing community that has been built amongst my fellow scholars and the opportunity to to gain a realistic view of life as a scientist – the program has solidified my interest in pursuing science as a career and becoming a scientist.
Lavi Singh, University of the South Pacific
My summer as an Amgen scholar was a key point in my undergraduate journey. It was my window into the world of academic research. I was able to immerse myself in the diverse community of scientists and explore research in an area I was interested in. I also made some of the most insightful and brilliant friends on the way.
In the News
Amgen Scholars: Bridging Science and People for Aboriginal Australia with Sidney Ruthven
The Bionics Institute: Amgen Scholars Program: Developing the researchers of tomorrow
Newsroom: Scientists Share: Naming new species with Sidney Ruthven
Please contact us if you have any questions about the Amgen Scholars Program.
Amgen Scholars Program Coordinator
Faculty of Science