Epigenetic Drivers of Tumour Mestastasis

Degree type


Closing date

25 September 2023



Citizenship requirement

Domestic / International

About the research project

Metastatic cancer is responsible for the vast majority of deaths associated with solid tumours. Once tumours have spread to distant sites in the body, there are few treatment options, and these often only serve to slow progression. Although there have been significant advances in understanding the biological pathways and molecules involved, we have not been able to identify the key determinants of metastatic capability for most tumour types. Whilst there has been a comprehensive international effort to characterise acquired genetic mutations through DNA sequencing of tumours, these sequence changes fail to explain metastatic propensity in the majority of tumours. More recently, it has been speculated that epigenetic changes acquired during progression from primary tumours to secondary metastatic lesions are acting as important key epigenetic-driver events.

The Epigenetic and Molecular Determinants of Metastatic Cancer (EpiMMet) study is a collaboration between the Menzies Institute for Medical Research, the Tasmanian School of Medicine and Tasmanian clinical oncologists and pathologists. This aim of this study is to understand the epigenetic drivers that underpin metastatic capability, through analysis of matched primary and metastatic lesions from the same individual. This study employs 'omics' technologies (methylomics and transcriptomics) to the analysis of tumour specimens from patients with metastatic cancer, to identify differentially methylated and expressed genes. This analysis will highlight potential putative molecular targets of metastasis that will be validated in cell culture models and in publicly available datasets. This study includes the investigation of prostate, breast and lung cancers with a focus on those with a propensity to metastasise to bone. This project will involve bioinformatics analysis of omics data, as well as laboratory-based molecular biology techniques.

Primary Supervisor

Meet Prof Joanne Dickinson


Applicants will be considered for a Research Training Program (RTP) scholarship or Tasmania Graduate Research Scholarship (TGRS) which, if successful, provides:

  • a living allowance stipend of $31,500 per annum (2023 rate, indexed annually) for 3.5 years
  • a relocation allowance of up to $2,000
  • a tuition fees offset covering the cost of tuition fees for up to four years (domestic applicants only)

If successful, international applicants will receive a University of Tasmania Fees Offset for up to four years.

As part of the application process you may indicate if you do not wish to be considered for scholarship funding.


Applicants should review the Higher Degree by Research minimum entry requirements.

Ensure your eligibility for the scholarship round by referring to our Key Dates.

Additional eligibility criteria specific to this project/scholarship:

  • Applicants must be able to undertake the project on-campus

Selection Criteria

The project is competitively assessed and awarded.  Selection is based on academic merit and suitability to the project as determined by the College.

Additional essential selection criteria specific to this project:

  • Excellent oral and written communication skills in English
  • Completion of a degree with honours or equivalent and demonstrated skills in laboratory techniques, in particular molecular biology techniques

Additional desirable selection criteria specific to this project:

  • Bioinformatic skills

Application process

  1. Select your project, and check that you meet the eligibility and selection criteria, including citizenship;
  2. Contact Prof Joanne Dickinson to discuss your suitability and the project's requirements; and
  3. In your application:
    • Copy and paste the title of the project from this advertisement into your application. If you don’t correctly do this your application may be rejected.
    • Submit a signed supervisory support form, a CV including contact details of 2 referees and your project research proposal.
  4. Apply prior to 25 September 2023.

Full details of the application process can be found under the 'How to apply' section of the Research Degrees website.

Following the closing date applications will be assessed within the College. Applicants should expect to receive notification of the outcome by email by the advertised outcome date.

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