Maximising the success of cancer immunotherapy by preventing extracellular vesicle hijacking of the immune system

Project opportunity

This Earmarked Scholarship project is aligned with a recently awarded Category 1 research grant. It offers you the opportunity to work with leading researchers and contribute to large projects of national significance.

Cancer immune evasion, where cancer cells actively hide from or inhibit the body’s immune cells is recognised as a central hallmark of tumour development. Immune evasion (or immunoevasion) enables cancer cell survival and seeding during metastasis, resulting in disease progression. Thus, immunoevasion is one of the main challenges of effective cancer therapy. Understanding the interactions between cancer and immune cells is critical for developing novel therapeutic strategies to treat cancer.

This project leverages natural killer cells as a cancer immunotherapy to re-engineer the immune system to develop novel, safe and highly effective therapies for hard-to-cure solid cancers, a major unmet clinical need. Tumors contain extracellular vesicles that suppress natural killer cell function and promote cancer growth and invasion. Understanding the mechanisms by which extracellular vesicles suppress anticancer immune responses is required to maximise the success of natural killer cell therapies. This project will elucidate immunosuppressive mechanisms and identify key targetable pathways used by extracellular vesicles to highjack immunity, enabling the development of strategies to maximise therapeutic potential.

Scholarship value

As a scholarship recipient, you'll receive: 

  • living stipend of $32,192 per annum tax free (2023 rate), indexed annually
  • tuition fees covered
  • single Overseas Student Health Cover (OSHC)


Associate Professor Joy Wolfram

School of Chemical Engineering


Preferred educational background

Your application will be assessed on a competitive basis.

We take into account your

  • previous academic record
  • publication record
  • honours and awards
  • employment history.

A working knowledge of cell culture, molecular biology techniques, and preclinical cancer models would be of benefit to someone working on this project.

The applicant will demonstrate academic achievement in the field(s) of cellular and molecular biology and/or cancer therapy and the potential for scholastic success.

A background or knowledge of immunotherapy and/or extracellular vesicles is highly desirable.

Latest commencement date

If you are the successful candidate, you must commence by Research Quarter 1, 2024. You should apply at least 3 months prior to the research quarter commencement date.

If you are an international applicant, you may need to apply much earlier for visa requirements.

How to apply

You apply for this project as part of your PhD program application.

View application process