Tackling bacteria head on: Investigating new therapeutic targets for treating important bacterial infections

Developing new antimicrobial compounds to treat serious bacterial infections


The problem: The global rise in infections caused by “superbugs”, which are resistant to many of the antibiotics we have available to us, is a cause of great concern today. These concerns are important to clinicians who facing increasing challenges in prescribing successful antibiotic regimens to patients so that they can enjoy a high quality of life. As a result new approaches to treating resistant bacterial infections are urgently needed.

The project: We will investigate different classes of enzymes which are involved in bacterial virulence as potential therapeutic targets and we will synthesise novel inhibitors and develop enzymatic assays. These compounds will then be characterised and investigated to see their effects in reducing the lethality of pathogenic bacteria in collaboration with Dr Mitali Sarkar-Tyson who leads the Burkholderia Research Group from the School of Biomedical Sciences at UWA, as well as industry partners.

The PhD project will primarily involve synthetic chemistry but if you are interested you can broaden your knowledge and skills in the areas of biochemistry and microbiology. You will be a part of a multidisciplinary team working within the group and interacting closely with a network of world-class scientists. Training will be provided to the candidate in all aspects of the project.


The laboratory is a highly collaborative environment where researchers work to solve problems in synthetic chemistry and chemical biology.

The laboratory enjoys extensive collaborations and researchers within the lab are provided with mentoring to aid their scientific development and enable them to realise their professional goals.

Project goals:

  • Address the development of chemical tools using novel methodologies, both organic and medicinal
  • Evaluate the effectiveness of such tools using molecular modelling, enzyme kinetics and protein chemistry
  • Use these tools to examine how the bacteria are being affected by the compounds.

If you are excited about interdisciplinary science, enjoy experimental research in chemistry and/or biochemistry and are interested please contact me.

Suggested readings


Research team leader: Associate Professor Keith Stubbs

I completed my undergraduate and PhD studies at UWA, followed by post-doctoral studies at Simon Fraser University in Vancouver, Canada. I am currently an Associate Professor and my research interests are synthetic chemistry, carbohydrate chemistry and chemical- and glyco-biology.


Funding and Collaborations

  • Funding - DSTL Industry Project
  • External collaborators - Dr Phil Ireland, Dr Christopher Jenkins and Dr Isobel Norville, Defence Science and Technology Laboratory
  • If this sounds interesting to you, get in touch! 


How to Apply 

Check criteria
  • To be accepted into the Doctor of Philosophy, an applicant must demonstrate they have sufficient background experience in independent supervised research to successfully complete, and provide evidence of English language proficiency
  • Requirements specific to this project - Applicants need to demonstrate adequate research by showing experience with organic chemistry and experience in biochemistry (desired but not essential). The level of experience required will depend on the project involved.
Submit enquiry to research team leader 
  • Contact the research team leader by submitting an Expression of Interest form via the button below
  • After you have discussed your project with the research team leader, contact [email protected] to proceed with your application


Scholarship specific to this project
  • A scholarship for this project is available ($30,000 p.a. for up to 3.5 yrs) which also comes with a research allowance. All interested domestic applicants should submit an expression of interest to Assoc. Prof. Keith Stubbs ([email protected]). The supervisor reserves the right to make an appointment before the closing date if a suitable candidate is identified.
Domestic students

All domestic students may apply for Research Training Program and University Postgraduate Awards (UPA) scholarships

International students

A range of scholarships are available from international organisations and governments. The full list, organised by country, is available on the Future Students website.

In addition, all international students may apply for International Research Training Program scholarships.

Indigenous students
Indigenous students are encouraged to apply for Indigenous Postgraduate Research Supplementary Scholarships.
Forrest Foundation scholarships
All international and Australian students who wish to study towards the degree of Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) at The University of Western Australia may apply for Forrest Scholarships.

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