Gene function in gut endoderm development


The aim of this project is to unravel the functions of newly identified genes in the development of the embryonic gut and the organs that derive from it.


Dr David Loebel, Professor Patrick Tam

Research Location

Westmead - Childrens Medical Research Institute

Program Type



This project addresses a fundamental issue of embryonic development at the start of life: the molecular activity controlling the formation of major body parts of the embryo. The epithelium of the primitive gut is formed from definitive endoderm and the muscle and connective tissues are mesoderm-derived. The foregut forms the liver, pancreas, the epithelium of the digestive tract and lungs, the thymus, thyroid and parathyroid glands. The molecular basis for the formation, organization and differentiation of these organs is not well understood, and this project is aimed at contributing to our knowledge of this process. As a first step towards this, we compared the genes expressed in the foregut endoderm of mouse embryos with tissues that do not contain endoderm using microarrays. From this analysis we identified a set of genes that are predominantly expressed in the endoderm and which do not, as yet, have any known function in early development. We are now using a variety of approaches to study the functions of some of these genes during development of the endoderm and its derivative organs. In this project, the effects of reduced or absent gene function (by knockdown, gene-targeting or gene-trap) and overexpression (by electroporation, transfection and transgenic methods) will be tested in mouse embryos, embryonic stem cells and other appropriate cell models.

Additional Information

This opportunity is available for Honours and PhD students 

Techniques and methodologies used in this project: dissection and manipulation of mouse embryos, molecular biological methods for gene cloning and analysis of gene expression (including real-time PCR and in situ hybridization), histology, immunofluorescence, cell culture, transfection, cell and embryo electroporation 

Eligibility:          Honours entry: GPA on track for Hons I / IIA classification                
                        PhD entry:       Hons I classification, lab-based research experience would be preferable. 

The Children’s Medical Research Institute (CMRI) is an award-winning state-of-the-art medical research facility, with over 100 full-time scientists dedicated to researching the genes and proteins important for health and human development. The CMRI is supported in part by its key fundraiser Jeans for Genes®. Our scientists are internationally recognised research leaders and foster excellence in postgraduate training. CMRI graduates are highly sought after nationally and internationally. CMRI is located at Westmead, a major hub for research and medicine in NSW, and is affiliated with the University of Sydney. Easy to access by public transport. Projects are multi-disciplinary with training in molecular and cellular biology techniques, with some involving mass spectrometry, proteomics, protein-protein interactions, transgenic animals or live cell imaging. We are looking for top quality students who can prove a dedicated interest and enthusiasm for scientific research.  

Candidates may apply for a CMRI PhD scholarship, which exceeds the Australian Postgraduate Awards and NHMRC scholarships in value; visit the CMRI website for details.

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embryo, mouse, developmental biology, developmental genetics, cell lineage, gut, endoderm, gene expression, signaling, epithelial, molecular biology

Opportunity ID

The opportunity ID for this research opportunity is: 1042

Other opportunities with Dr David Loebel

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