Phd Position

Phd Position

University of Otago

Dunedin, New Zealand

PhD Studentship Opportunity: Epigenetics of melanoma immunotherapy response

As a result of our new Health Research Council of New Zealand grant, we have a
PhD scholarship ($30,000 NZD per annum for 3 years) available for a well-qualified
and highly motivated student to undertake a PhD project that will investigate
epigenetics of melanoma immunotherapy response.
Project Summary: New Zealand has the highest
incidence and mortality rate of melanoma in the
world, accounting for the majority of skin cancer
related deaths. Very recently, the development of
cancer immunotherapies has had a major impact in the treatment of patients with advanced melanoma. Immune checkpoints can allow cancer cells to evade the host immune system. By blocking immune checkpoints with monoclonal antibodies a proportion of patients gain significant survival benefit. The interaction between the programmed death 1 (PD-1) receptor and its ligand PD-L1 is one of the most
important and well-characterised checkpoints. Currently, two antibodies (nivolumab,
pembrolizumab) that target PD-1 are approved in NZ for treating melanoma and
non-small cell lung cancer. However, while these therapies can be very effective, a
relatively high proportion (~60%) of melanoma patients have little or no response to
these treatments. Predicting which patients will respond is presently hampered by
a lack of understanding of the underlying biology, but recent research, including our
own, has identified that epigenetic factors play an important role.
This project will be based on bioinformatic and molecular analysis of human
melanoma tissues from patients who have responded, or not, to immune checkpoint
blockade immunotherapy. The experimental work will involve DNA methylation
analysis, and a range of molecular and cellular techniques, including bioinformatics.
The successful candidate will have obtained a BSc(hons), BBioMedSci(hons) or
MSc. Basic knowledge of the following areas would be desirable: bioinformatics,
genetics/epigenetics and molecular biology.
For further information please contact Prof Mike Eccles or Dr Aniruddha Chatterjee.
Expressions of interest close on 1 February 2019.

Professor Mike Eccles
Department of Pathology
University of Otago
New Zealand
Phone: +64 3 479 7878

Dr Aniruddha Chatterjee
Department of Pathology
University of Otago
New Zealand
Phone: +64 3 470 3455

Please apply via recruiter’s website.