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Fluorescent sensing of labile metal pools


Metals play an important role in biology, but there are only limited tools to study their functions and interactions. In this project we will develop new fluorescent tools to study the interactions of metal ions with cells.


Associate Professor Elizabeth New.

Research location

School of Chemistry

Program type



Almost all biological processes require metal ions for correct functioning, particularly as cofactors in many enzymes. If metal levels are too low, enzymes will lose function, but if they are too high, incorrect metal complexes can form, leading to diseases like Alzheimer’s. The pool of labile, or bioavailable, metal ions in a cell plays a particularly important role in the function of metalloproteins and the maintenance of metal homeostasis. We are designing fluorescent sensors for metal ions such as Ni(II), Mn(II), Cu(I) and Cu(II) that will allow us to understand the roles of metals in disease.

Additional information

This project will involve organic synthesis and photophysical characterisation, with an option for performing biological experiments in our lab, and with collaborators. Interested candidates must have strong research experience in synthetic chemistry.

In addition to the academic requirements set out in the Science Postgraduate Handbook, you may be required to satisfy a number of inherent requirements to complete this degree. Example of inherent requirement may include:

  • Confidential disclosure and registration of a disability that may hinder your performance in your degree;
  • Confidential disclosure of a pre-existing or current medical condition that may hinder your performance in your degree (e.g. heart disease, pace-maker, significant immune suppression, diabetes, vertigo, etc.);
  • Ability to perform independently and/or with minimal supervision;
  • Ability to undertake certain physical tasks (e.g. heavy lifting);
  • Ability to undertake observatory, sensory and communication tasks;
  • Ability to spend time at remote sites (e.g. One Tree Island, Narrabri and Camden);
  • Ability to work in confined spaces or at heights;
  • Ability to operate heavy machinery (e.g. farming equipment);
  • Hold or acquire an Australian driver’s licence;
  • Hold a current scuba diving license;
  • Hold a current Working with Children Check;
  • Meet initial and ongoing immunisation requirements (e.g. Q-Fever, Vaccinia virus, Hepatitis, etc.)

You must consult with your nominated supervisor regarding any identified inherent requirements before completing your application.

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Opportunity ID

The opportunity ID for this research opportunity is 1964

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