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Oxidative stress and human ageing

A postgraduate research opportunity at the University of Otago.


Close date
Saturday, 25 February 2023
Academic background
Health Sciences
Host campus
Pathology and Biomedical Science (Christchurch)
Professor Mark Hampton


Over the last century, major improvements in the prevention and treatment of human disease have led to a dramatic increase in life expectancy. However, this achievement has come with an increased burden of age-related chronic disease and disability that will put ever-increasing pressure on our health system. Age is a major risk factor for many human diseases, but there is still much to learn about the changes that occur inside our cells as we age, and how we might be able to reduce the impact of the ravages of ageing.

Oxidative damage accumulates in aged tissues, but it is unclear if this is a cause or a consequence of ageing. To look for early changes, we have taken blood cells from people and looked at the oxidation levels of a particularly sensitive proteins in the cytoplasm and mitochondria. We have also challenged these cells with an oxidant to see how fast they recover from stress. There were differences in oxidation and recovery rates between people, and a potential association with biological age. In this project the student will assess blood samples from a large number of people of different ages. Red blood cells, platelets and various types of white bloods cells will be separated and analysed. Stem cells will also be isolated and cultured in vitro, and oxidation levels measured before and after treatment with compounds proposed to protect cells from oxidative stress.

Students will gain expertise in cell culture and biochemistry techniques, including western blotting. The project will provide insight into early events associated with human ageing, and help to develop methods for assessing the efficacy of compounds that may help promote healthy ageing.

Preferred student expertise:

  • Biochemistry, cell biology or related area

Further information:

This is one of a number of projects on offer for the 2023 intake of BBiomedSc(Hons) at the University of Otago, Christchurch campus.

Bachelor of Biomedical Sciences with Honours (BBiomedSc(Hons)) at the University of Otago, Christchurch
Professor Mark Hampton's profile
Centre for Free Radical Research
Department of Pathology and Biomedical Science


Mark Hampton