Study As
Full Time

Principal Supervisor
Dr Manuela Klingler-Hoffmann

Main Campus
City West

Applications Close
26 Sep 2023

Study Level

Applications Open To
Domestic Candidate or International Candidate

Tuition Fees:

All domestic students are eligible for a fee waiver. Find out more about fees and conditions.

Project Stipend:
$32,500 p.a. (Domestic only)

About this project

Develop innovations to improve outcomes for ovarian cancer patients 

If you are passionate about building a career in cancer biology and keen to develop more effective treatments for ovarian cancer, the University of South Australia – Australia’s University of Enterprise – is offering a hands-on project-based PhD within UniSA Clinical and Health Sciences, in partnership with the Letitia Linke Research Foundation. 

Epithelial ovarian cancer (EOC) is the most lethal gynaecological cancer. It has a 5-year overall survival rate of about 30–40%, and this has not improved much over the last 30 years, despite advances in surgery, imaging technologies, and new targeted therapies.  

While most ovarian cancer patients respond well to the first line carboplatin treatment, 20% of patients do not. Of the initial responders, most will eventually present with recurrent disease and need further treatment.  

There is currently no test available that can predict if a cancer will respond to a particular treatment or not. This makes current therapy a trial-and-error process and oncologists must look for scientific guidance to choose the right therapy for each patient the first time, every time.  

Our project will develop patient-derived sample testing to enable personalised treatment. It has the potential to make a positive impact on patients' lives here and now. We will also perform proteomics analysis to investigate if protein abundance correlates with treatment response. 

Our aim is to provide drug response profiles of patient-derived cancer cells which can assist with therapy decisions, and lead to personalised and more effective therapy for ovarian cancer patients. This innovation has genuine potential to disrupt the status quo for advanced cancer treatment.   

You will join UniSA Clinical and Health Sciences, which is home to key clinical and health sciences research concentrations that investigate diseases such as cancer, diabetes, heart and cardiovascular disease and a range of related therapies.  

The Mass Spectrometry and Proteomics Group is one of the leading groups in mass spectrometry and proteomics within Australia and the national node form imaging mass spectrometry is supported by NCRIS and the State Government. You will benefit from career-advancing access and expert mentoring in this area. 

What you’ll do

In this project-based research degree, you will be involved in retrieving cancer cells from fluid within the abdominal cavity (ascites) or from primary tumours. You will then test the cancer cells in vitro to determine which therapy would work best for the individual patient.  

We will guide you on how to use proteomics to investigate how protein abundance can be used to predict drug response and shed light on the biological processes responsible for chemoresistance.  

You will have the opportunity to become an efficient user of a variety of state-of-the art mass spectrometry equipment, data analysis tools and cell biology techniques. 

As part of the project, you will help establish robust and reproducible patient-derived sample testing, correlate drug response profiles with clinical outcomes, generate protein expression profiles using mass spectrometry, and link proteome analysis and functional data to understand mechanisms of chemoresistance. 

You will be supported and encouraged to disseminate your research via academic publications and national and international conferences. This is an opportunity for you to witness research translation from the lab to society and contribute to life-changing and career-advancing innovation. 

Where you’ll be based

You will be based in the UniSA Clinical and Health Sciences Unit. We address critical and emerging health needs while improving the quality of patient care. We are at the forefront of clinical discovery through our research into causes and cures of disease. Every day, our researchers investigate the best ways to help improve patient outcomes and create positive change in the health industry.   

We present our insights to the people who need it most, through our collaborations and partnerships with local industry and community, government and research institutions worldwide.  Our clinical and health science programs encompass pharmacy, nursing and midwifery, laboratory medicine, biomedical sciences, and nutrition and food sciences.   

UniSA’s world-class facilities provide a seamless transition from study to career, with our specialist clinics providing hands-on experience to students while serving the local community. UniSA Clinical and Health Sciences is a community of ideas and innovation. We produce versatile graduates, generate new knowledge that contributes to a healthier society, and translate our research into successful healthcare strategies.

Supervisory team

Financial Support 

This project is funded for reasonable research expenses.  Additionally, a living allowance scholarship of $32,500 per annum is available to Australian and New Zealand citizens, permanent residents of Australia. 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 this group.  For full terms and benefits of the scholarship please refer to our scholarship information.  
International applicants will not be eligible to receive the scholarship.

An additional top-up scholarship with a value of $5,000 per annum will be offered to the preferred applicant supported by The Letitia Linke Research Foundation. Additionally, a $5,000 travel grant will also be available to the successful applicant.

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:  
  • An enthusiastic PhD student with a background in biochemistry, mass spectrometry, analytical chemistry and/or cell biology.

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 Tuesday, 26 September, 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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