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Epithelial Transition Zones in Cancer Research Scholarship





The Centre for Inflammation currently has a full-time postgraduate scholarships available for suitably qualified candidates with a strong Honours degree (or equivalent) in biomedical science, pharmacology, chemistry, biomedical engineering or pharmacy to undertake research studies leading to a PhD focused on identifying which cells give rise to lung cancer.

Lung cancer is a major cause of death worldwide and a disease in need of much better treatments. It is known that cigarette smoking is a causative factor in the vast majority of lung cancers, but much remains to be learnt about how it arises. The two most common types of lung cancer are adenocarcinoma (AdC) and squamous cell carcinoma (SCC). Although they resemble cells within the alveolar and airway compartments of the lung, respectively, the cell of origin of these distinct cancers has not been clearly established. Epithelial transition zones are found at the junctions of two types of epithelial tissues, such as where the airway epithelium meets the lung alveolar epithelium, and can give rise to cells of both tissues. In other organs, epithelial transition zones are hotspots for carcinomas and those that arise there are more aggressive.

This project will investigate the epithelial transition zones within the lung, using markers known to be associated with them in other tissues, as well as markers of different types of lung epithelium. We will combine our established mouse models for lung cancer and cell lineage tracing to identify the cell of origin of AdC and SCC and examine both mouse human lung tissue for pre-malignant biological changes in lung epithelial transition cells. Structural and functional changes in their genes will be investigated to identify potential mechanisms for driving those biological changes.

The candidate will gain experience in advanced microscopy, sequencing and general molecular biology methods.