• Cancers
  • Immunology
  • Oncology

Location: QIMR Berghofer (Herston)

Type of student: PhD or MPhil only

Type of work: 

  • Literature review
  • Statistical analysis
  • Wet lab work

Avoiding destruction by immune cells is a hallmark of cancer, yet how tumors ultimately evade NK cell control remains incompletely defined. We have a project based upon the previously unrecognized TGF-B-dependent differentiation of conventional NK (cNK) cells in settings of lymphopenia and tumors. Strikingly, a higher proportion of cNK cells and their capacity for relatively high IFN-g/TNF-a production favored host protection from tumor initiation and growth, whereas tumor-localized NK cells that had differentiated appeared exhausted and corresponded with tumor growth. These data highlight the unexpected plasticity of cNK cells under pathophysiological conditions and reveal a novel mechanism by which tumors escape innate immune responses. We now wish to understand the role of innate-like cells in tumors and we wish to identify in preclinical models using various new fusion proteins the cancer therapeutic potential of specifically inhibiting NK cell differentiation and TGF-b signaling in cNK cells.

The project will concern research work in a team in the areas of cellular and molecular immunology, cancer cell biology, and angiogenesis in both mouse and human tumors.

Prerequisite skills: Theoretical training in immunology is highly desirable. Technical skills in animal experimentation, flow cytometry and/or cellular immunology are preferable.

Immunology in cancer and infection