Cutting off the fuel supply to starve cancer: Identifying metabolic vulnerabilities in cancer
A universal characteristic of all cancer cells is the reprogramming of cell metabolism to provide the energy and building blocks necessary to support proliferation and survival. Reprogramming of cell metabolism occurs as a consequence of oncogenic mutations and renders cancer cells dependent on a unique set of nutrients. It is now widely recognized that the altered metabolic activity of cancer cells provides a window of opportunity to develop tumour-specific anticancer therapies.
Using transcriptomic and metabolomic approaches, the aims of this project will be to:
(1) compare and contrast metabolic reprogramming induced by well-described oncogenes;
(2) compare and contrast the nutrient requirements of cancer cells dependent on well-described oncogenes and
(3) identify and validate key metabolic vulnerabilities that can be targeted for the preclinical development of novel anticancer strategies.
The student will gain experience in mammalian cell culture, molecular biology techniques, metabolomics and stable-isotope labelling techniques.
The Brown laboratory investigates mechanisms that drive resistance to chemotherapy and targeted therapy agents in breast cancer.
This knowledge is applied to the pre-clinical development of novel and more effective interventions for breast cancer therapy.
The Cox laboratory investigates mechanisms by which oncogenic pathways reprogram metabolism to fuel liver growth in the context of development, regeneration and cancer. Our research team uses a combination of metabolomic and transcriptomic approaches in zebrafish (Danio rerio) to study metabolic reprogramming in vivo. Our ultimate vision is to identify therapeutic strategies that exploit the metabolic vulnerabilities of liver tumors.
Peter MacCallum Cancer Centre, Melbourne Australia
Peter MacCallum Cancer Centre is Australia’s only public hospital solely dedicated to cancer, and home to the largest cancer research group in Australia. Cancer is a complex set of diseases, and modern cancer research institutes such as Peter Mac conduct research covering a diversity of topics that range from laboratory-based studies into the fundamental mechanisms of cell growth, translational studies that seek more accurate cancer diagnosis, clinical trials with novel treatments, and research aimed to improve supportive care.
All students engaged in postgraduate studies at Peter Mac are enrolled in the Comprehensive Cancer PhD (CCPhD) program, regardless of which university they are enrolled through. The program is managed by the Sir Peter MacCallum Department of Oncology (The University of Melbourne), based at Peter Mac.
Tapping into the depth and breadth of knowledge and experience offered by the ten partners of the Victorian Comprehensive Cancer Centre (VCCC) alliance, the University of Melbourne’s Comprehensive Cancer PhD Program provides a unique opportunity for multidisciplinary cancer-related PhD candidates to experience clinical and research activities across the alliance.
The Comprehensive Cancer PhD program builds on established conventional training for cancer research students providing a coordinated program of skills, research and career training in addition to usual PhD activities. The program is designed to complement existing PhD activities and provides opportunities to develop professional skills that will help candidates to fulfil their career ambitions
All PhD students at Peter Mac must have a scholarship from The University of Melbourne or through another government, trust or philanthropic organisation. Before applying for a scholarship, you must have agreed on a project with an institute supervisor.
For further information about the university application process, see:
For further information regarding scholarships (both local and international), see:
Closing dates for applications for scholarships to commence in 2019: Round 1 -31 October 2018; Round 2 - 28 Nov 2018; Round 3 - 20 Feb 2019.