PhD Research Project in Melanoma University of Queensland, School of Biomedical Sciences Australia

PhD Research Project - Melanoma

Area:Faculty of Medicine

Salary (FTE):Advertised at multiple classifications

Work type:Full Time - Scholarship

Location: St Lucia

School of Biomedical Sciences


The University of Queensland School of Biomedical Sciences is a distinguished centre for teaching and research in the academic disciplines of Anatomy, Developmental Biology, Physiology, Pharmacology and Pathology. The School has more than 40 full-time research and teaching staff and is one of the largest Schools of its type in Australia. It has links to other prestigious research centres on the St Lucia campus including the Queensland Brain Institute (QBI), the Institute of Molecular Bioscience (IMB) and the Australian Institute for Bioengineering and Nanotechnology (AIBN). Our diverse research provides an exciting environment for national and international research fellows and higher degree students. It is concerned with advancing the understanding of how cellular mechanisms contribute to the function of the human body in health and disease.  Details of the research interests of academic staff may be accessed on the school’s web site at


In addition to its graduate research programs, the School teaches undergraduate students in Science, Medicine, and Health Sciences.


The Piper Lab is interested in brain development and function, with a specific focus on neural stem cells in cortical development. Using the developing mouse brain as a model system, we employ a range of cellular, molecular, transcriptomic and behavioural approaches to unravel the mechanisms that mediate neural stem cell biology within the developing and the adult brain. Recently, our work has begun to focus on applying our understanding of stem cell biology into other contexts.  Specifically, we have been studying the role of transcriptional regulation of metastatic gene profiles in melanoma. We, in collaboration with Dr. Aaron Smith (QUT), have revealed a set of key mechanistic factors that promote melanoma cell migration. We now aim to further understand the genes that mediate metastasis in this malignant cancer, and to work towards defining druggable targets. Prospective students with interests in these areas are encouraged to apply.


More details on the Piper lab’s projects, people, and publications can be found on its website at


The Project


Melanoma is a major Australian health problem.  Melanoma arises from the malignant transformation of melanocytes, and is the deadliest form of skin cancer.  Australia has the highest rates of melanoma globally and prognosis in the case of metastatic disease is poor due to the aggressive nature of the tumour cells and notorious resistance to conventional therapies. This proposal has direct relevance to the understanding melanoma at a critical point in the progression of this disease to metastasis.  This work will lay the foundation for targeting specific sub-populations of cells within a tumour, to block key tumorigenicity hallmarks such as invasion and metastasis.   The role of the successful candidate will be to work as part of a multi-university and multi-disciplinary team, embedded in the School of Biomedical Sciences at the University of Queensland.


The aims of this PhD project are: 


This project will explore our Hypothesis that regulatory programs facilitated by NFIB in melanoma cells co-ordinate the epigenetic, metabolic and physiological changes necessary for tumour cells to adapt to, and overcome, the challenges encountered in metastatic dissemination.  Accordingly, a deeper understanding of the role played by NFIB in the BRN2-MITF axis will reveal novel targets to limit tumour metastasis and complement and extend the therapeutic arsenal currently used to address this disease. 


The person


Applicants should have a degree in Science with a very strong interest in stem cells and cancer biology. The candidate is also required to meet the minimum requirements for entry into the PhD program. The research group is very dynamic and fast moving and hence it is crucial that any candidate is a team player with an independent and professional work ethic. The candidate must have excellent communication skills in terms of both written and spoken English language expression.


The successful applicant is expected to obtain their own tuition fee and living allowance scholarship. For information on scholarships, see 



Enquiries related to this position should be directed to Associate Professor Michael Piper



To submit an application for this project, please complete an application to the PhD program online here: 


Please list Associate Professor Michael Piper as the supervisor and list ‘NFIB in melanoma biology’ as the project title.


All applicants will be required to supply the following documents:

  • A cover letter that addresses how you meet the requirements for the PhD program and addressing the desired skills and attributes;
  • A curriculum vitae detailing education, professional experience, research experience, publications, and relevant competencies;
  • Academic transcript for all post-secondary study undertaken, complete or incomplete, including the institution grading scale;
  • Award certificates for all completed post-secondary study
  • Evidence for meeting UQ’s English language proficiency requirements; and
  • The name and contact details of two referees who can best comment on your prior research experience. UQ will contact your referees directly, but you will need to enter their details into the application form.


Application closing date

International Students – 3 June 2018 (11:55pm Eastern Australia Standard Time)

Domestic Students – 12 August 2018 (11:55pm Eastern Australia Standard Time)


Advertised: 20 Apr 2018 

Applications close: 12 Aug 2018 (11:55 PM) E. Australia Standard Time

If you apply for this position please say you saw it on Medicinoxy


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