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Developing a nanoparticle-based oral cancer vaccine

Project summary

St Lucia
Research area
Biological sciences, Biomedical and clinical sciences, Engineering, Health sciences

Project description

Colorectal cancer (CRC) is one of the most common and lethal tumours worldwide. Current therapies are often unsuccessful because CRC frequently recurs with metastasis after treatment cessation.

Vaccines offer great promise in preventing post-treatment recurrence, with clinical trials in progress. However, the efficacy of current (injected) vaccines remains limited due to a lack of T cell migration and gut tissue-resident memory T cells (TRM) generation, which are crucial to combat CRC tumours that grow at gut mucosa.

Oral immunisation outperforms injected immunisation (e.g. intramuscular) in generating gut TRM. While adjuvants are crucial for vaccine efficacy, currently licensed vaccine adjuvants (e.g. Alum) cannot trigger sufficient T-cell immunity and are not optimal for oral delivery.

This project aims to address the urgent need for a CRC vaccine by developing a novel oral nanoadjuvant that effectively elicits gut TRM responses.

This will be achieved by integrating our patented bioadhesive spiky nanoparticles and immune modulator strategies.

Developed nanovaccine has the potential to provide gut-localised antigen delivery and a pro-inflammatory microenvironment to promote rapid and long-lived anti-tumour TRM immunity for CRC prevention.


This is an Earmarked scholarship project that aligns with a recently awarded Australian Government grant.

The scholarship includes:

  • living stipend of $32,192 per annum tax free (2023 rate), indexed annually
  • your tuition fees covered
  • single overseas student health cover (OSHC).

Learn more about the Earmarked scholarship.


Preferred educational background

Your application will be assessed on a competitive basis taking into account your:

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

Working knowledge of nanomaterials, drug delivery, cancer therapy, and animal handling would be beneficial.

You'll demonstrate academic achievement in biomedical engineering and the potential for scholastic success.

A background or knowledge of nanotechnology and immunology is highly desirable.

How to apply

This project requires candidates to commence no later than Research Quarter 1, 2026. To allow time for your application to be processed, we recommend applying no later than 30 September, 2025 30 June, 2025.

You can start in an earlier research quarter. See application dates.

Before you apply

  1. Check your eligibility for the Doctor of Philosophy (PhD).
  2. Prepare your documentation.
  3. Contact Dr Jie Tang ( to discuss your interest and suitability.

When you apply

You apply for this scholarship when you submit an application for a PhD. You don’t need to submit a separate scholarship application.

In your application ensure that under the ‘Scholarships and collaborative study’ section you select:

  • My higher degree is not collaborative
  • I am applying for, or have been awarded a scholarship or sponsorship
  • UQ Earmarked Scholarship type.

Apply now