Personalising immune checkpoint inhibitor treatment for lung cancer patients

School of Medicine

Lead Researcher: Associate Professor Tara Roberts

About the project

The Ingham Institute for Applied Medical Research (opens in new window)Opens in a new window in Liverpool is a Western Sydney University associated medical research centre. We are now offering a research scholarship to a highly motivated PhD candidate to work on an NHMRC funded project utilising multiplexed immunofluorescence to characterise the immune system of lung cancer patients. This scholarship is funded by a philanthropic donation from Lyn Ingham.

Immune checkpoint inhibitors (ICI) have become standard of care for most non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC) patients resulting in overall increased survival. However, the response to ICI is not uniform with up to half of patients not benefitting from the treatment. Consequently, there is a significant need to improve patient selection. As part of a prospective cohort study this project will examine the individual immune contexture of patients with NSCLC receiving ICI treatment.

The project will be based at the Ingham Institute and is a collaboration between Western Sydney University, the Centre for CTC Research & Diagnostics (A/Prof Therese Becker) and the Cancer Systems Microscopy laboratory (Dr John Lock) located at UNSW. It will span optimisation of techniques integral to multiplexed single cell immunofluorescence, including semi-automated image analysis embedding artificial learning modules, flow cytometry and next generation sequencing of liquid biopsy samples.

What does the scholarship provide?

  • Domestic students will receive a tax-free stipend of $32,192 per annum to support living costs, supported by the Research Training Program (RTP) Fee Offset.
  • International students will receive a tax-free stipend of $32,192 per annum to support living costs. Those with a strong track record will be eligible for a tuition fee waiver.
  • Support for conference attendance, fieldwork and additional costs as approved by School/Institute.
  • International candidates are required to hold an Overseas Student Health Cover (OSHC) insurance policy for the duration of their study in Australia. This cost is not covered by the scholarship.

Eligibility criteria

We welcome applicants from a range of backgrounds who are keen to apply their skills in data science, health analytics, or related quantitative discipline to current population health priorities. In particular, the project is suitable for candidates with strong interests in the application of data science to chronic diseases

The successful applicant should:

  • hold qualifications and experience equal to one of the following (i) an Australian First Class Bachelor (Honours) degree, (ii) coursework Masters with at least 25% research component, (iii) Research Masters degree, or (iv) equivalent overseas qualifications.
  • demonstrate strong academic performance in subjects relevant to immunology, cancer biology, fluorescent microscopy, cell biology and use of various analytical and academic computer software.
  • Previous experience with programming and an interest in machine learning is desirable
  • have an understanding of the importance of personalised medicine
  • be willing to learn techniques applicable to multiplex immunofluorescence of immune cells, next generation sequencing and data analysis.
  • Ability to work collaboratively across sites to ensure success of the project
  • be enthusiastic and highly motivated to undertake further study at an advanced level.

International applicants must demonstrate English language proficiency.(opens in a new window)

How to apply

Follow the step-by-step instructions on the how to apply for a project scholarship(opens in new window)Opens in a new window page.

  • Note: You do not need to complete 'Step 5: Submit an online application for admission' when applying for this scholarship. You must complete 'Step 6: Submit an online application for a project scholarship'.

Incomplete applications or applications that do not conform to the above requirements will not be considered.

For questions and advice about the research project, please contact the Lead Researcher;
A/Prof Tara Roberts,

For questions and advice about the application process, please contact the Graduate Research School:

Applications close 29 February 2024

*Applications close at 11.59pm Australian Eastern Daylight Time (AEDT).

Scholarship reference code: PS2024_090_SoM