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  PhD in Protein biochemistry/Cancer biology – Are there protein amyloids in cancer?

   School of Biological Sciences

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  Dr V Morris, Dr Christoph Goebl  No more applications being accepted  Funded PhD Project (Students Worldwide)

About the Project

PhD candidates are being recruited to join the team at the Centre of Free Radical Research, University of Otago, Christchurch. At the Centre for Free Radical Research you will complete your postgraduate study while working alongside other students and experienced scientists from all over the world.

We recently discovered that one of the most frequently mutated proteins in cancer, the tumour suppressor protein p16, can form amyloid structures upon oxidation (1). Amyloid protein structures are frequently found in neurodegenerative diseases such as Alzheimer’s disease (a-beta) or Parkinson’s disease (alpha-synuclein). 

In this project, we aim to spearhead the investigation of amyloids in cancer. Amyloid p16 seems to be non-functional and might therefore contribute to tumour development. This PhD fellowship will enable the candidate to study p16 amyloids in great detail, including mechanistic and structural studies of molecular changes, computational modelling, cell biological and tumour analysis and method development for future diagnostic applications. The specific focus will depend on the interest of the candidate. 

The project will be supervised by Dr Christoph Göbl at the University of Otago, Christchurch and Dr Vanessa Morris, at the University of Canterbury. This project involves collaborations with international research groups located in the USA, Canada, Germany, Austria and Australia and we will consider a research stay with one of our partners during course of the studies.

We welcome students from various backgrounds including biology, chemistry, medicine, engineering or others. You will join a young and enthusiastic international team of cancer researchers. If you think that certain aspects of this project sound interesting to you, don’t hesitate to contact us for more information.

Applicants must be eligible for admission to the PhD programme at the University of Otago. Entry requirements can be found here.

Funding Notes:

This 3 years project is fully funded by a Marsden Project Grant. It covers subscription fees and a yearly stipend of NZD $35,000.


In the first instance, applicants should contact Dr Vanessa Morris or Dr Christoph Göbl by email to discuss the project. Further information may be sought from suitable candidates that will include:

o  a copy of your CV

o  a copy of your academic transcript

o  a pdf copy of your research thesis

Biological Sciences (4)


Göbl C.*, Morris, V.K.*, van Dam, L.*, Visscher M., Polderman P., Hartlmüller C., de Ruiter H., Hora,M., Birner-Gruenberger, R., Vos H., Reif, B., Madl T. and T. Dansen. (2020) Cysteine oxidation triggers amyloid fibril formation of the tumor suppressor p16INK4A. Redox Biology 28, 101216

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