Study level

  • PhD
  • Master of Philosophy
  • Honours


Topic status

We're looking for students to study this topic.


Dr Nathalie Bock
Senior Research Fellow
Division / Faculty
Faculty of Health
Dr Laura Bray
Senior Research Fellow
Division / Faculty
Faculty of Engineering
Dr Christoph Meinert
Visiting Fellow
Division / Faculty
Faculty of Engineering


3D organoid model technologies have led to the development of innovative tools for precision medicine in cancer treatment. Yet, the lack of resemblance to native tumours, and the limited ability to test drugs in a high-throughput mode, has limited translation to practice.

This project will progress organoid models by using advanced tissue engineering technologies and high-throughput 3D bioprinting to recreate 'mini-tumours-in-a-dish' from a patient’s own tumour cells, and study the effects of various components of the tumour microenvironment on drug response.

In better modelling the clinical context in vitro, drug candidates will be tested to better support personalised clinical decisions in breast cancer, the second most common cancer in women in Australia.

Research activities

The project aims to develop novel preclinical models of breast cancer research and thus focus on three main research axes:

  • Developing new hydrogel systems for breast cancer 3D organoid cell culture and optimising printability on a high-throughput bioprinting platform.
  • Collecting breast cancer tumour tissues from consented patients undergoing tumour resections in Brisbane and optimise tissue processing for bioprinting on the high-throughput platform. We will characterize the resulting bioengineered breast tumour organoids and do drug testing, to match the right patient with the right therapy.
  • Developing a tissue-engineered preclinical bone tumour microenvironment and co-culturing with breast tumour organoids to screen which patients exhibit high potential to metastasise to bone, informing whether progression to an incurable stage of the cancer may happen. Drug testing will further help to indicate which clinical drug regimen is best for patients with existing metastases.

Skills, techniques and other learning opportunities offered:

  • Hydrogel manufacture
  • Bioprinting
  • Tumour tissue processing
  • Primary human cell culture
  • 3D cell culture techniques
  • Exposure to clinicians
  • Exposure to industry partners

Skills and experience

Eligible candidates considered should be:

  • passionate about biomedical cancer research
  • aelf-motivated, able to plan and prioritise work to meet deadlines
  • able to take initiative and undertake complex problem-solving activities
  • able to work in a multidisciplinary team environment including academics, clinicians and industry partners
  • interested in learning and utilising a large range of laboratory-based techniques merging dissimilar fields (biomaterials, tissue engineering, cancer research)
  • excellent in verbal & written communication skills.



Please contact Dr Nathalie Bock for more information.