PhD Scholarship in Self-Assembled Lipid Nanoparticles for Targeted Cancer Therapeutics

Undertake an interdisciplinary project on developing drug delivery carriers for cancer therapy.

This project aims to develop lipid-based nanoparticles as drug carriers for cancer therapy. The PhD candidate will learn new skills in chemistry, materials science, biomedical engineering and nanomedicine.

Up to $31,000 per annum for three years with a possible extension of six months (full-time).

Candidates with a background in chemistry, biomedical science or biomedical engineering, ideally with experience in nanotechnology or biomaterials are encouraged to apply.

To be eligible for this scholarship you must:

  • have a first-class Honours or equivalent in chemistry, nanotechnology, biotechnology or related disciplines
  • meet RMIT University’s entry requirements for the Higher Degree by Research programs
  • meet RMIT’s entry requirements for the Doctor of Philosophy.

Interested candidates should contact Dr. Nhiem Tran via nhiem.tran@rmit.edu.au and provide:

  • a statement to outline your interest
  • an electronic copy of your academic transcripts
  • a CV that includes any publications and the contact details of two referees.

For international applicants, evidence of English proficiency may be required.

23 September 2020.

23 November 2020 (unless previously filled).

Cancer is a leading cause of death and a major health problem in Australia. Currently, chemotherapeutics are widely used and still provide the best survival chance for cancer patients. Chemotherapy drugs, however, also damage normal cells in the body, leading to many side effects that have been limiting their effectiveness. To address these problems, nanomedicines, a drug delivery strategy based on nanoparticles encapsulating toxic chemotherapeutics, have emerged and held great promises for the next generation of targeted cancer treatment to reduce systemic side effects. Such drug delivery systems also offer other advantages including:

1. enhanced solubility of newly discovered, poorly soluble drugs

2. controlled release of the drugs for enhanced bioavailability 

3. protection of the drugs from degradation in the body to overcome biological barriers.

Among the drug delivery systems that are being developed, self-assembled lipid nanoparticles stand out due to their customisable nanostructures and extensive porous networks. These features allow them to encapsulate and slowly release non-water-soluble chemotherapeutics. We have also successfully attached antibodies to the surfaces of lipid nanoparticles to help them recognise cancer cells for targeted drug delivery. This project aims to formulate multifunctional lipid nanoparticles that can provide sustained release and targeted delivery of anti-cancer chemotherapeutic drugs, including paclitaxel, temozolomide, and dasatinib. Extensive investigation of structure – function relationship between lipid nanostructures and solubility and release of drugs will be performed in vitro and in vivo. First, advanced biophysical techniques such as small angle X-ray scattering, cryogenic transmission electron microscopy, HPLC will be employed. Second, biochemical assays such as bioconjugation, gel electrophoresis, ligand binding assays, in vitro cell viability and cell uptake assays will also be performed to confirm the recognition of cancer cells by nanoparticles. Last but not least, biological functions and therapeutic efficacy of the developed nanoparticles will be evaluated in vivo using ovarian cancer and/or brain cancer xenograft models.

This project is a collaborative interdisciplinary project that offers training on lipid nanoparticle formulation, colloid and surface chemistry characterisation, and the evaluation of bio-nanomaterials in vitro and in vivo.

This scholarship will be governed by RMIT University's Research Scholarship Terms and Conditions.

Dr. Nhiem Tran via nhiem.tran@rmit.edu.au

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Acknowledgement of country

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.