Study As
Full Time

Principal Supervisor
Professor Yeesim Khew-Goodall

Main Campus
City West

Applications Close
09 Jul 2023

Study Level

Applications Open To
Domestic 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 

Tackle chemo-resistance in breast cancer patients

If you are seeking to advance your career in cancer biology and interested in developing new breast cancer treatments, the University of South Australia – Australia’s University of Enterprise – is offering an important project-based PhD with world impact in our Centre for Cancer Biology.

Triple negative breast cancer (TNBC) is the most aggressive form of breast cancer and the most challenging to treat due to a paucity of reliable targeted therapy. TNBC patients are treated via chemotherapy and whilst many respond very well to this treatment, about 1 in 5 will relapse due to becoming chemo-resistant. This is true even for patients with early-stage disease, who would usually have the best chance of recovery. Patients who have become chemo-resistant have few other options available to them. We are driven to understand how chemo-resistance arises so that we can offer those with TNBC the most effective and successful treatment possible. Our work has made some advances in this area and we have discovered pathways that could be targeted to overcome chemo-resistance. This project will give you the opportunity to participate in unravelling the mysteries of chemo-resistance and contributing to landmark discoveries on how it arises. You’ll become part of the Centre for Cancer Biology, which is a vibrant community of researchers dedicated to helping cure cancer. It is equipped with state-of-the-art facilities, including high resolution microscopy, flowcytometry, next-generation sequencing and single-cell sequencing. It is a highly collaborative environment, with weekly internal and external research seminars that will introduce students to some of the most cutting-edge research happening in Australia.

What you’ll do

In this project-based research degree, you will mostly undertake lab-based experimental work. You will attain skills in in-vitro cell culture and assessment of proliferation, apoptosis and autophagy, brightfield and fluorescent microscopy, generation of knockout and knockin cell lines using CRISPR/Cas9 technology, as well as basic biochemistry and molecular biology techniques. There will be opportunities for you to develop your communication and networking skills by presenting your research at regular seminars and attending relevant national conferences (approximately one a year). You will also have ample opportunities to meet other researchers locally and from interstate through our external seminar series, which will increase your chances of employment in a field of your choice post-PhD.

Where you’ll be based

You’ll be based at the Centre for Cancer Biology (CCB), which 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 $32,500 per annum is available to Australian and New Zealand citizens, and permanent residents of Australia, including permanent humanitarian visa holders. 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. International applicants are not invited to apply at this time. 

Eligibility and Selection

This project is open to application from domestic applicants only. Applicants must meet the eligibility criteria for entrance into a PhD degree. A merit selection process will be used to determine the successful candidate. The successful applicant is expected to study full-time and 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, Sunday 9 July 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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