Investigation into the pharmacology of analgesics in koalas


Conducting in-vitro and in-vivo studies to optimise the best dose of analgesics for koalas


Associate Professor Merran Govendir

Research Location

Sydney School of Veterinary Science

Program Type



Our previous research has demonstrated that koalas and other marsupials such as the common brushtail and the common ringtail possum eliminate non steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) from their bodies at a much faster rate than rats and dogs. If we want to provide analgesia (pain relief) for these species of wildlife when they attain traumatic injuries, we need to identify analgesics that can be administered not more than once daily and at a dose that provides good analgesia with minimal side effects. This project will initially use in-vitro systems to screen currently available analgesic medicines to find those that are not rapidly metabolised by koala liver enzymes. Once such drugs have been identified we will structure in–vivo clinical trials with our collaborating wildlife hospitals to determine whether these drugs provide good analgesia in clinically normal koalas.  You will learn about pharmacokinetic (PK) and pharmacodynamic (PD) principles and integrate these concepts by PK/PD modeling. We will need to develop liquid chromatography assays to detect the concentrations of some analgesics in biological fluids such as plasma and urine. You will also perform in-vitro microsome assays and in-vivo clinical trials.    

Additional Information

The successful PhD candidate will possess a good honours degree or equivalent.  To be applicable for a Australian Postgraduate Award (APA) or International Postgraduate Research Scholarship (IPRS) the candidate must have a first class honours degree or equivalent. The applicant must be a self-starter, strong communicator and with ambition to write their research up as manuscripts for journal publication during their candidature.   

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veterinary, Pharmacology, animal, Pain, wildlife, Koala, possum, therapeutic, medicines, pharmacokinetic, pharmacodynamic

Opportunity ID

The opportunity ID for this research opportunity is: 1938

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