PhD Scholar in Molecular and Cell Biology

Brisbane, Australia
30 May 2018
End of advertisement period
01 Sep 2018
Academic Discipline
Life sciences, Biological Sciences
Contract Type
Fixed Term
Full Time

The University of Queensland Diamantina Institute

The University of Queensland Diamantina Institute (UQDI) aims to develop a better understanding of the molecular and cellular basis of disease, and to translate that understanding into practical outcomes for patients. UQDI has more than 300 researchers and students who work closely with clinicians in the areas of cancer, immunology and genomic medicine. The institute forms part of the Faculty of Medicine and is based at the Princess Alexandra Hospital teaching campus in Brisbane. 

UQDI is located in the Translational Research Institute (TRI), an extremely well-equiped research centre with outstanding facilities for biomedical research. Details of the research interests of academic staff may be accessed on the UQDI web site at The University of Queensland is a member of the Go8 group of the leading research-intensive Australian universities and is consistently rated in the top 100 universities worldwide.

The Role

The successful scholar will pursue a PhD degree investigating how early melanomas and skin cancers develop from precursor lesions or via the de novo development pathway. This research project will be headed by Dr Mitchell Stark and Professor Peter Soyer from the Dermatology Research Centre. The Centre and Researcher webpages can be found here

The Project


Skin cancer diagnosis in Australia is increasing at a seemingly exponential rate, contributing to 80% of all cancer diagnosis. Each year 750,000 non-melanoma skin cancers (basal cell carcinomas or BCC, and squamous cell carcinomas or SCC) in addition to 14,000 melanomas are diagnosed with the vast majority being caused by repeated sun exposure. Most skin cancers are preventable but considering a large proportion of our population has spent a lifetime in the sun, prior to sun safety awareness campaigns, a greater emphasis on early diagnosis is crucial to reduce the overall number of skin cancers. The issue is: How does a treating clinician actually achieve this without new tools in their arsenal? The environmental cause of skin cancers is considered to be well known but are there other factors involved? Why do skin cancers develop in certain areas of the skin but not in others? Likewise, we are only beginning to understand why a benign lesion (e.g. ‘mole’ (naevus) or a ‘seborrheic wart’ (seborrheic keratosis or SK)) is more likely to develop rather than its malignant counterpart (melanoma, BCC, or SCC). Furthermore, how do we clinically recognise a lesion that has malignant potential without surgical excision?


The successful candidate will perform deep whole exome or genome sequencing, whole-transciptome, small RNA, and methylation analysis on normal skin, sun-damaged skin, benign and intermediate melanocytic and keratinocytic lesions, and malignant lesions using patient material collected and stored from previous and ongoing clinical studies. It is essential that the candidate possess the requisite bioinformatics skills to analyse these datasets as well as the biological background to enable the data to be interpreted followed by functional laboratory validation. Skills in gene-editing and silencing techniques would be highly desirable.

The Person

We are seeking candidates who satisfy the following selection criteria:

  • First Class Honours, a research masters degree, a coursework masters with a GPA equivalent to 5.65/7 with a relevant research component, or equivalent research experience, and a strong motivation to pursue a PhD degree.
  • A broad basic knowledge across molecular and cell biology.
  • Demonstrated bioinformatic skills and or experience with working with large datasets is essential.
  • Relevant laboratory experience, particularly in molecular biology, sterile tissue culture, western blotting and microscopy is essential.
  • Experience with study participant recruitment is desirable
  • Ability to work independently and within a team.
  • Attention to detail and an ability to think laterally.
  • Demonstrated organisational ability and good record-keeping skills.

Applicants must satisfy the criteria and be awarded a scholarship from the University of Queensland Graduate School (see details below).

Applicants must fulfil the PhD admission criteria for the University of Queensland, including English language requirements.

Demonstrated research capacity (research outputs such as publications or conference presentations) will be highly regarded.


The successful applicant will receive a living allowance stipend rate of Base stipend of $27,082 per annum (2018 rate), indexed annually, tuition fees, Overseas Student Health Cover (OSHC) for three years with the possibility of up to 2 x 6 month extensions in approved circumstances. For further information on scholarships refer to .

The successful applicant may also be eligible for a top-up scholarship awarded on a competitive basis.


For further information about the research projects or to discuss the role, please contact Dr Mitchell Stark ( To submit an application for this role, use the Apply button below. All applicants must supply the following documents: Cover letter, CV/Resume and Academic Records (indicating GPA scores/grades).

For information about entering the UQ PhD program and for the full terms and conditions, please visit the UQ Graduate School website at Please note that at this stage of the process you do not need to complete the online application for admission form. Shortlisted candidates will be interviewed by the lead researcher and the successful applicant will be provided with information on how to apply for admission to UQ. 

For information on completing the application process click here.

Application closing date:

1 September 2018 11:55pm E. Australia Standard Time

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