PhD Opportunities – DNA Methylation Heterogeneity in Cancer

Cancer cells within a single tumour can differ in clinically important properties such as their ability to initiate metastasis or survive therapy, and a thorough understanding of the molecular characteristics underlying this heterogeneity will have important implications for cancer treatment. DNA methylation is dynamically regulated during development and globally dysregulated in many cancer types, yet little is known about the heterogeneity of this epigenetic modification in cancer.

Recently developed single-cell sequencing technologies have allowed DNA methylation heterogeneity to be studied in unprecedented detail. Based in the Hunter Medical Research Institute, the laboratory of Dr Heather Lee will apply these methods to investigate DNA methylation heterogeneity and dynamics in cancer. Two opportunities exist for talented molecular biologists to undertake a PhD project in this newly established research team.

Specific aims that could be addressed are:

1. To determine the relationship between DNA methylation plasticity and cellular plasticity during epithelial to mesenchymal transition and metastasis.

2. To investigate the contribution of DNA methylation heterogeneity to the heterogeneous response of cancer cells to therapy.

3. To identify targets for DNA methylation biomarker development based on molecular characterisation of circulating tumour cells, metastasis initiating cells or putative cancer stem cells.

These research projects will involve collaboration with scientists at the Garvan-Weizmann Centre for Cellular Genomics at the Kinghorn Cancer Centre, Sydney. Depending on the specific aims of the research project, the candidate will develop technical skills in cell culture, in vitro assays of cancer biology, in vivo models of cancer, DNA methylation analysis, single-cell sequencing technologies and bioinformatics.

Applications are open to international and domestic candidates.

Interested applicants are advised to email a curriculum vitae and cover letter to the address below.

Email: sbs-rsu@newcastle.edu.au

Applications are open until suitable candidates are found.