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How is fate determined during T cell development, leukemogenesis and responses?

  • 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

Understanding how cell fate programming works will lead to improved diagnostic and therapeutic opportunities for leukemia, and to improved immunotherapies for cancer and infectious disease.

We have developed new methods for imaging single cells and their progeny through many generations of T cell development and activation. These methods mean that we can now assemble pedigrees that describe both the relationships between different differentiation stages, and molecular and behavioral attributes of their ancestors and progeny. The next step is to use these pedigrees and the wealth of information associated with them to determine the relative contributions of genetic, epigenetic, extrinsic and stochastic influences on fate determination.

This PhD project will involve development of new computational approaches to determine how behaviours in the T cell progeny (differentiation, growth, death, division) are influenced by ancestory, intrinsic and extrinsic cues.


The Russell lab explores how blood cell signalling influences fate decisions during development and immune responses. This will help to improve immunotherapies for cancer and infectious disease, and to understand how leukemia occurs when development goes wrong. Key for our research approach is to develop and apply new imaging and computational approaches, and for this the lab is partly located in the Centre for Micro-Photonics, Swinburne University.
https://www.petermac.org/research/labs/sarah-russell

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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