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Predicting the development of oral cancer

  • Full or part time
  • Application Deadline
    Applications accepted all year round
  • Competition Funded PhD Project (Students Worldwide)
    Competition Funded PhD Project (Students Worldwide)

Project Description

Human head and neck cancer is a devastating disease with poor survival rates. Oral cancer (OC) is the most common type of head and neck cancer affecting the oral cavity where it is driven by the continuous exposure to risk factors including tobacco use, alcohol abuse, infection with high-risk human papilloma viruses (HPV) and genetic pre-disposition. Over the last thirty years, improvements in survival rates of oral cancer patients have remained modest, hampered by the late diagnosis of the disease.

In this project, we will use mouse models of OC that mirror the human malignancy to identify initial molecular changes that predict cancer development. We expect that analysing the tissue integrity in these models of the OC risk factors will provide a window for disease initiation. Discoveries in these models will lead to identification of biomarkers for early diagnosis and disease progression in OC patients.

A wide range of skills will be taught including biochemistry, molecular biology, cell culture and knockout mice.


The Darido lab investigates human head and neck cancer - a devastating disease with poor survival rates. The molecular heterogeneity of the disease and the lack of laboratory models have hindered the development of improved treatment modalities for heterogeneous head and neck cancer patients. We have recently discovered the genetic defects that trigger head and neck cancer development. These defects are also evident in subsets of human cancers. We are currently exploring novel treatment strategies aimed at targeting the genetic defects, and we expect that our findings will lead to new personalised therapies for head and neck cancer patients that are likely to improve their outcomes.
https://www.petermac.org/research/labs/charbel-darido

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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