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Defining the role of p53 in cancer immunotherapy


Project Description

Despite clear evidence of an association between the tumour suppressor p53 and immunity, a gap in knowledge exists regarding its role in modulating immune responses, or its value in predicting patient responses to immunotherapy. Given the unprecedented frequency of p53 mutation in cancers and the heterogeneous responses to immunotherapy, this question deserves rigorous exploration.

P53 activity has been associated with tumour-infiltration and immune activation. Despite the prevalence of p53 mutations in human cancers (>50%) and its link to immune regulation, the impact of p53 status on the immune response, and on the response to immune checkpoint inhibitors has not been explored. These fundamental questions, which potentially affect many cancer types and a large proportion of cancer patients, form the basis of this study.

The project will involve work with cancer cell lines, transgenic mouse models, and human samples. In addition the project will expose students to a variety of molecular, cellular biochemical techniques, immune profiling, and to genomic and bioinformatics analyses.


The Haupt laboratory explores novel regulatory pathways governing tumour suppressors.
The research is directed to:
1. Delineating the role of oncogenic E3 ubiquitin ligases in cancer
2. Defining mechanisms that disable tumour suppressors, with a special focus on new therapeutic targets to disable the potent cancer driver, the mutated form of the major tumour suppressor p53.

https://www.petermac.org/research/labs/ygal-haupt

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.
https://www.petermac.org/education/comprehensive-cancer-phd-program

Funding Notes

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:
View Website

For further information regarding scholarships (both local and international), see:
View Website
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.

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