Reverse Transcription

Location: Sydney, NSW

Duration: 3 months

Proposed start date: ASAP

Project Background

Genetic Signatures is a specialist molecular diagnostics (MDx) company focused on the development and commercialisation of its proprietary platform technology, 3Base™.

Genetic Signatures has released a suite of real-time PCR based products for the routine detection of infectious diseases under the EasyScreen™ brand. This proprietary MDx technology provides hospitals and pathology laboratories with the ability to screen for a wide array of infectious pathogens with a high degree of specificity in a rapid throughput (time to result) environment.

Genetic Signatures wish to improve their detection of RNA viruses by incorporating improved reverse transcriptase into their real-time PCRs.

Research to be Conducted

The process of reverse transcribing RNA into a form compatible with DNA polymerase enzymes is the most important step in the molecular detection of viral pathogens in clinical samples. Many companies offer different reverse transcription (RT) enzymes to perform this step. The two most commonly used enzymes are MMLV and AMV reverse transcriptase. In addition, manufacturers have introduced many different mutations into these enzymes to improve sensitivity, length and decreased susceptibility to inhibitory substances commonly found in clinical samples.

This project will involve testing a large number of enzymes with various RNA viruses and human sample types to identify a universal RT enzyme that is compatible with Genetic Signature’s customer’s workflow.

Skills Required

We are looking for a PhD student with the following:


  • Experience with RNA templates and reverse transcription PCR
  • Experience with Real-time PCR assay development or optimisation


  • Experience with multi-plexed, or probe-based PCR
  • Experience in infectious diseases
  • Familiar with requirements of diagnostic assays

Expected Outcomes

The expected outcome is that assay sensitivity can be improved by incorporating the most efficient reverse transcriptase identified while preserving assay performance in terms of cycling speed and specificity. It is important that the same enzyme can be used over a range of RNA viruses using Genetic Signatures universal cycling protocol.

Additional Details

The intern will receive $3,000 per month of the internship, usually in the form of stipend payments.

It is expected that the intern will primarily undertake this research project during regular business hours, spending at least 80% of their time on-site with the industry partner.  The intern will be expected to maintain contact with their academic mentor throughout the internship either through face-to-face or phone meetings as appropriate.

The intern and their academic mentor will have the opportunity to negotiate the project’s scope, milestones and timeline during the project planning stage.

Applications Close

25 September 2019


APR – 1085