PhD Scholarship in Gold-based drugs for the effective treatment of ovarian cancer

This project will develop and test new gold-based compounds as alternatives to current ovarian cancer chemotherapies.

Scholarship will fund a 3 year PhD candidature to work in the Chemistry Department of the RMIT School of Science CAMIC Laboratory. Project is a collaboration with immunologists (SHBS) to test gold-compounds as anti-ovarian cancer therapeutics.

  • The value of the Scholarship is equivalent to a standard RMIT Scholarship. 
  • This Scholarship will be available for up to 3 Years with extension to 3.5 years if required. 

Applicants need to have a background in synthetic organometallic chemistry using air sensitive technologies and some interest in medicinal chemistry. They must have completed a relevant Bachelor’s Degree and Honour’s or Master’s in synthetic inorganic chemistry/medicinal/pharmacology. Due to COVID-19 restrictions, applicants living in Australia at time of application will be preferred.

Email  Dr Ruchika Ojha and Distinguished Professor Suresh Bhargava ( directly with their statement of interest, cover letter addressing the desirable criteria, CV and academic qualifications.

Also see the HDR How to Apply website.

Applications are open now.

Applications will close once candidates are appointed.

Current treatments for ovarian cancer are largely toxic, and ultimately, ineffective for many patients. A current collaboration between Professor Bhargava (Science) and Professor Plebanski (Health & Biomedical Sciences, SHBS) seeks to enable clinical progression for their novel class of gold-based drugs that show superior selectivity and activity for otherwise drug-resistant cancer cells, for the treatment of ovarian cancer (Mirzadeh et al., 2021, DOI: 10.1093/mtomcs/mfab039).

As part of Professor Bhargava’s team, the PhD candidate will contribute to building structure-activity relationships (SARs) based around targeted modifications of their patented gold-based drug candidate using innovative in vitro protocols to refine lead drug candidate(s). This will involve a novel comprehensive approach, including analyses of cellular fate such as reduction/oxidation in diverse biological fluids, tumour cells and tissues, the transport into and within cells, the main leaving ligands and the major site of action, using for the first time, synchrotron μ-XAS and XFM and vibrational spectroscopic (VS) microscopy in the lead laboratory of Prof. Lay (USyd) in Australia. The candidate will further be co-supervised by Distinguished professor Magdalena Plebanski on specific aspects to the project related to interaction with biological materials at SHBS. 

Desirable criteria:

  • Interest in and ability to work in an interdisciplinary setting, including with scientists and/or engineers.
  • Experience in metallo-compound, cancer or immunotherapy research.

Primary contact: Dr Ruchika Ojha, Research Fellow


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RMIT University acknowledges the people of the Woi wurrung and Boon wurrung language groups of the eastern Kulin Nation on whose unceded lands we conduct the business of the University. RMIT University respectfully acknowledges their Ancestors and Elders, past and present. RMIT also acknowledges the Traditional Custodians and their Ancestors of the lands and waters across Australia where we conduct our business - Artwork 'Luwaytini' by Mark Cleaver, Palawa.