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Role of the tumour microenvironment in gastric cancer

Project Description

Gastric cancer (GC) is the fourth most common cancer globally and 7th in incidence in Australia. It has a poor survival rate which can be attributed to the advanced stage at diagnosis in most patients. The molecular and cellular mechanisms underlying the development of GC are not well described. Traditionally cancer research involved studying the cancer cell itself. More recently, there has been growing interest in studying the normal cells and molecules which surround the cancer cell. This tumor microenvironment consists of a variety of stromal cell types including cells such as fibroblasts. It is believed that the dynamic communication between tumor cells and the surrounding cell types may play a major role in cancer initiation, progression and establishment of metastatic disease.

The aim of this project is to investigate tumor-stromal interactions in gastric cancer utilizing established and primary cell lines. Once the molecular pathways by which a tumor cell progresses has been elucidated it is possible that these processes could be exploited in the development of novel therapeutics. Our previous genomic experiments have provided a number of exciting candidate genes that may be involved in this interaction. This is novel research that may have a major benefit to our understanding of cancer and improve patient outcomes.

Peter MacCallum Cancer Centre in Melbourne 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.

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.

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:
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For further information regarding scholarships (both local and international), see:
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Closing dates for applications for scholarships to commence in 2020: Round 1 -31 October 2019; Round 2 - 31 Jan 2020; Round 3 - 15 May 2020.

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