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   Applications accepted all year round  Funded PhD Project (Students Worldwide)

About the Project

Project opportunity. A position is available at the University of Queensland Diamantina Institute under Prof. Ian Frazer and Dr. Jazmina L Gonzalez Cruz for an enthusiastic, talented, and highly motivated student to undertake PhDs in cancer immunology.

About the Project

The incidence of Oropharyngeal Squamous Cell Carcinoma (OPSCC), a subset of head and neck cancer, is rising globally, especially in young people. In Queensland, new presentations with OPSCC have increased by 11% in just 4 years. Persisting infection with Human papillomavirus (HPV) type 16 (HPV16) is now recognized as the initiator of >60% of all OPSCC. However, current vaccines for HPV are ineffective in preventing patients with pre-existing HPV infection progressing to cancer.

Immunotherapies add a new dimension to the management of recurrent or disseminated cancer. They are a promising choice for HPV-associated cancers due their capacity to activate patient’s anti-tumor CD8 T-cells, an immune subset that has been positively correlated with a more favorable disease outcome in HPV16+OPSCC patients. However, available immunotherapies come at a high cost (~$150,000 per patient per year) and only result in an improved outcome in 5-30% of cancer patients. Therefore, novel immunotherapies, specifically those targeting tumor antigens and inducing tumor-specific CD8 T-cells, are an attractive approach to improve patient outcomes through personalized medicine.

In this project, we will use high throughput immune approaches to define which mechanisms predict disease and treatment outcome, and how to use this information to better design treatment plans for cancer patients.

The PhD program duration will cover a minimum of 3.5 years. The position depends on the elected student being awarded with a national or international UQ HDR scholarship. Scholarship application will be submitted by the research team once the candidate has been selected.

REQUIREMENTS

  • Strong immunology background
  • First Class Honours or Masters Degree in related field
  • Good hands-on laboratory skills
  • Strong oral and writing skills
  • Strong ambition and work ethics
  • Have a competitive CV to be eligible to apply to a national or international UQ HDR scholarship

TECHNIQUES THAT WILL BE ACQUIRED THROUGHOUT PHD

· Conduct quality research into anti-tumour immune and immune-evasion responses in several human cancer scenarios using high-through put technologies, such as RNA and DNA sequencing, spatial transcriptomics and proteomics (10XGenomics Visium, CODEX).

· Be part of the clinical team composed by surgeons, oncologists and scientists based at Princess Alexandra hospital.

· Conduct pre-clinical experiments with mouse models to test our hypothesis.

APPLICATION

If interested, please send your CV, academic record/grade transcripts and a short cover letter to  with ‘PhD Application’ in the subject line. Applications will be accepted until all positions have been filled.


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