Study As
Full Time

Principal Supervisor
Dr Anna Brown

Main Campus
City West

Applications Close
27 Jan 2023

Study Level

Applications Open To
Domestic Candidate or International Candidate

Tuition Fees:
All domestic students are eligible for a fee waiver. International students who receive a stipend are eligible for a fee waiver. Find out more about fees and conditions.

Project Stipend:
$29.863 p.a.

About This Project 

Develop new responses to acute myeloid leukaemia

If you’re keen to pursue a career in molecular biology and interested in developing life-changing therapies for acute myeloid leukaemia, the University of South Australia – Australia’s University of Enterprise – is offering a pioneering project-based PhD with real-world impact within our Centre for Cancer Biology.

Collectively, blood cancers are the second most common cancer diagnosis and cause of cancer death in Australia.  It is thought that approximately 15% of these blood cancers originate from a genetic risk, where the individual has inherited a germline predisposing variant. 

Through our decades long work in the Australian familial conditions study (AFHCS) we have identified and follow hundreds of families that carry an inherited genetic risk of blood cancer. In AFHCS families, we have identified three specific genes that lead to the development of acute myeloid leukaemia (AML). 

In this project, we are trying to understand what triggers the development of AML in these at-risk individuals. We will study how different environmental factors, bacterial or viral infections, and cell stress interact with the genetic risk influencing blood stem cell behaviours and the bone marrow microenvironment leading to AML development. The aim of this work is to identify new therapeutic targets that could interrupt this process and prevent AML development in people with inherited risk.

You will be based in the Molecular Pathology Research laboratory at the Centre for Cancer Biology. The Centre has a balance of highly experienced and early career researchers and their expanding portfolio of research provides opportunities for career development in a vibrant and highly supportive environment. 

The team is supervised by world leaders in genetic predisposition to blood cancers with extensive expertise in genetics, genomics, bioinformatics, molecular and cell biology and haematology/oncology, and the team have active national and international collaborations with other world leaders in this area. This project will incorporate state of the art genomics technologies and bioinformatics strategies and algorithms with in vivo and in vitro functional studies

The Centre of Cancer Biology carries out a world-class program of innovative research, making breakthrough discoveries in the fundamental causes of cancer, and translating these discoveries into new ways to prevent and treat this group of diseases. You will benefit from the Centre’s state-of-the-art laboratory facilities and the ACRF cancer Genomics Facility which provides access to cutting-edge genomics research equipment, computing technology and bioinformatics expertise.

What you’ll do

In this project-based research degree, you will perform laboratory-based experiments in both in vitro and in vivo models of leukaemia development. You will optimise CRISPR modification approaches and use these to generate defined leukaemia models to test novel therapeutic compounds and study alterations to blood cell development. 

You will participate in collating genomics and clinical data from human leukaemia predisposition studies and will be required to interact with collaborators from around the world, which will likely generate new collaborations. 

Upon completion, you will have sound skills in working with genetic mouse models, state-of-the-art humanised bone marrow ossicle model, CRIPSR-editing of stem cells, microscopy, molecular and cellular biology assays, bioinformatics, and genetic variant curation. You will also develop skills in scientific data analysis, methodology, literature review and critique, written and oral presentations.  

You will attend and participate in lab meetings and departmental/interinstitutional seminars and  have opportunities to present your work at local/national/international conferences and publish in high impact scientific journals.

This project will be performed in an excellent environment and you will gain highly-valued exposure to both research and clinical fields of genetics, haematology and cancer biology. There is a high probability of generating publishable novel findings with both immediate and longer-term impact on patients in Australia and worldwide.

Where you’ll be based

You’ll be based at the Centre for Cancer Biology on UniSA’s City West campus. CCB is a medical research institute which carries out a world-class program of innovative research, making breakthrough discoveries in the fundamental causes of cancer, and translating these discoveries into new ways to prevent and treat this group of diseases.

The CCB is an alliance between SA Pathology and the University of South Australia and boasts the largest concentration of cancer research in South Australia, currently hosting 22 full-time research group leaders and their teams.

CCB laboratories carry out research in leukaemia, breast cancer, prostate cancer, skin cancer, brain cancer and colon cancer, focussing in the specialised areas of gene regulation, molecular signalling, translational oncology and cancer genomics. In addition to these laboratories, our ACRF cancer Genomics Facility is providing access to state-of-the-art genomics research equipment, computing technology and bioinformatics expertise to Adelaide BioMed Precinct and the wider research community.

Translation of new discoveries into clinical practice is strengthened by the co-localisation of the laboratories within a single Institute, as well as its proximity and close collaboration with the Royal Adelaide Hospital, the University of South Australia, the University of Adelaide and SAHMRI.

The CCB also has alliances with leading pharmaceutical companies to rapidly exploit new discoveries. The Institute aims to be a hub of internationally recognized cancer research excellence, achieving tangible outcomes for cancer patients.

The CCB is a member of the Association of Australian Medical Research Institutes (AAMRI).

Supervisory Team
Financial Support

This project is funded for reasonable research expenses. Additionally, a living allowance scholarship of $29,863 per annum is available to eligible applicants. Australian Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander applicants will be eligible to receive an increased stipend rate of $46,653 per annum (2023 rates). A fee-offset or waiver for the standard term of the program is also included. For full terms and benefits of the scholarship please refer to our scholarship information for domestic students or international students.

Eligibility and Selection

This project is open to application from both domestic and international applicants.

Applicants must meet the eligibility criteria for entrance into a PhD. Additionally, applicants must meet the projects selection criteria:
  • Science degree with honours in appropriate fields
  • Basic laboratory skills
Applicants who can also demonstrate the following will be highly regarded:
  • Cell culture experience
  • Advanced molecular biology skills
  • Good written and oral scientific communication skills
All applications that meet the eligibility and selection criteria will be considered for this project. A merit selection process will be used to determine the successful candidate.

The successful applicant is expected to study full-time and to be based at our City West campus in the heart of Adelaide.

Essential Dates 

Applicants are expected to start in a timely fashion upon receipt of an offer.  Extended deferral periods are not available. Applications close on Friday, 27 January, 2023.

How to apply:

Applications must be lodged online, please note UniSA does not accept applications via email.

For further support see our step-by-step guide on how to apply , or contact the Graduate Research team on +61 8 8302 5880, option 1 or email us at You will receive a response within one working day.

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