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The molecular basis of breast cancer in young women

This project is closed for international students.

Project summary

Research area
Biomedical and clinical sciences

Project description

Breast Cancer in young women is becoming more common and is associated with particularly adverse outcomes. 

The project seeks to better understand the mechanisms of tumour development in such patients, some of whom have a known family (genetic) history of the disease, while for others, there is no known genetic reason for this to occur. 

We will be studying a series of samples from patients diagnosed at this young age, involving the morphological annotation of clinical specimens followed by: Aim 1 – the characterisation of DNA mutations as they accumulate through different stages of neoplastic development; and Aim 2 – the concomitant RNA transcriptional programs as they change through these stages of development. The latter data will be generated through recently developed technology known as spatial transcriptional profiling. 

The project will generate significant volumes of data, which will need sophisticated analysis using conventional and increasingly complex bioinformatics and machine learning approaches. 

The proposed student will work at this analytical stage of the project in developing new tools to analyse complex data. The student will contribute to the generation of analytical pipelines for this new technology, which is increasingly becoming a method of choice in many disciplines. 

Other outcomes would relate to the development of a mechanistic understanding of the very early stages of tumour development in young patients, which will have future significance in disease screening and treatment.


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 cancer biology, genomics, spatial transcriptomics, and bioinformatics/machine learning would be beneficial.

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

A background or knowledge of breast cancer, genomics, transcriptomics, and spatial profiling is highly desirable.

How to apply

This project requires candidates to commence no later than Research Quarter 1, 2024. To allow time for your application to be processed, we recommend applying no later than 30 September, 2023 30 June, 2023.

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 Associate Professor Peter Simpson ( 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