PhD Scholarship on ‘Using biobanks to study cancer targets and develop cancer vaccines’.

This project will use biobanked patient samples to study cancer diagnosis and treatments, and translate these into clinical benefits, such as personalised cancer vaccines.

Scholarship will fund a 3-year PhD candidature to work in the Cancer, Ageing & Vaccine Laboratory (SHBS). Project is a collaboration with WEHI and Hudson Institute to improve cancer diagnosis, prevention and treatment.

  • The value of the Scholarship is equivalent to an RMIT full Scholarship
  • This Scholarship will be available for 3.5 years.

Applicants need to have a background in immunology or cancer biology, preferably cancer immunology and most preferably ovarian cancer. They must have completed a relevant Bachelor’s Degree and Honour’s or Master’s. Due to COVID-19 restrictions, applicants must living in Australia at time of application.

Email Distinguished Professor Magdalena Plebanski ( 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.

31 December 2023.


The Cancer, Ageing and Vaccines Laboratory seeks to understand cancer biology and immune responses and to translate these findings into real-world clinical benefits. As part of this research, the lab runs several clinical trials, such as SOLACE2, which is testing combination chemotherapies for ovarian cancer treatment (Scott et al., 2019, and IOCT, which recently identified a key biomarker for diagnosis of ovarian cancer (Kampan et al., 2020, doi: 10.1038/s41598-020-59009-z). 

Most recently, is our collaboration with Professor Scott (WEHI) on the Stafford Fox Rare Cancers trial. This trial seeks to understand why people diagnosed with three or more cancers have a much better survival rate than those diagnosed with one or two cancers. The project will study biobanked samples from these "super survivor" individuals to test if they have specific health characteristics, set at just the right level to control or knock out their cancer. 

One key goal of these trials is to identify the key functional targets for the immune response and leverage this to initiate development of personalised cancer vaccines. As part of this goal, the PhD candidate could choose to become involved in any number of aspects and Is welcome to discuss ideas and options with Distinguished Professor Magdalena Plebanski.

Across all projects, the PhD Candidate will use techniques such as germline/tumour sequencing data, plasma analysis and work with patients’ immune cells work to identify key functional targets. They may perform epigenetic techniques, DNA sequencing (HLA-typing and WES), transcriptomics and immunoassays such as ELISpots.

Desirable criteria:

  • Practical experience and conceptual background in cellular immunology, particularly tumour immunology.
  • Practical experience and conceptual background in solid tumour biology, particularly ovarian cancer.
  • Interest in, and ability to, work in an interdisciplinary setting including immunologists, cancer biologists, and clinicians.
  • Experience in tissue culture.

For further inquiries please contact Distinguished Professor Magdalena Plebanski (

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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.