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Applying human drug discovery approaches to kauri die back disease

A postgraduate research opportunity at the University of Otago.


Close date
Saturday, 30 November 2019
Academic background
Sciences, Health Sciences
Host campus
PhD, Master’s
Pharmacology and Toxicology
Professor Michelle Glass


Phytophthora agathidicida is currently threatening New Zealand’s most iconic tree, the kauri. Current efforts to halt its spread through New Zealand forests are failing. Phytophtora zoospores swim through waterlogged soil towards the roots of their host plants and then encyst on the root surface and initiate infection. The molecular mechanisms controlling movement and infection appear to involve G protein coupled receptors and phospholipid kinases. This is exciting, as powerful methods are available for studying these proteins; indeed G protein coupled receptors and kinase together are the target of approximately 60% of all current human medicines. Here our multidisciplinary, international team propose a novel way to tackle the problem; by adapting methods refined in human drug discovery to understand the fundamental function of these proteins.

This knowledge will enable us to develop novel chemical tools that could help in the fight against this devastating pest.  This will be an excellent opportunity for a student to develop skills that will be highly marketable within industry and academia.  The project is a collaboration between University of Otago, Auckland and Victoria University and some travel between sites will be required.


Michelle Glass
Tel   +64 3 479 8524