Study level

  • Vacation research experience scheme


Topic status

We're looking for students to study this topic.


Dr Laura Bray
Senior Research Fellow
Division / Faculty
Faculty of Engineering

External supervisors

  • Akhilandeshwari Ravichandran, QUT Postdoctoral Fellow


Over the past few decades, cancer mortality has risen more than 2.6-folds in Australia, mandating novel research to study and understand the mechanisms of cancer biology. Recent advancements in technology have led to development of novel scaffold-based, bioengineered 3D tumour models that recapitulate the complex, in vivo cancer microenvironment better than the conventional 2D monolayer cultures.

Specifically, tumour cells encapsulated in hydrogel systems are widely used as effective 3D tumour models because of how closely they mimic the native tissue extracellular matrix. Despite their relevance in studying cancer biology, visualising cells and their specific proteins in hydrogels can be a challenge because of the 3D structure.

Optimisation of tissue sectioning and cellular staining of 3D tumour models is essential for high quality microscopic analysis of cells and tissues. This will enable the evaluation of cancer biomarkers in 3D tumours which is crucial for cancer diagnosis and therapeutic clinical intervention.

Research activities

  • Development and optimisation of histological methods for visualisation of hydrogel-based 3D tumour models.
  • Analysis of 3D tumour models using immunohistochemistry (IHC) and immunofluorescence (IF).
  • Identify cancer biomarkers for different 3D tumour models including breast cancer, leukaemia and ovarian cancer.
  • Working closely with biomedical engineers and histology experts in QUT laboratories.


The project aims to develop and evaluate methods for imaging 3D tumour models, including:

  • cryopreserving different types of engineered tumour tissues including breast cancer, leukaemia and ovarian cancer
  • using Cryostat to produce relevant micron-sized sections of the different 3D tumour models
  • using IHC and IF to identify and analyse the expression of specific markers in the tumour sections.

Skills and experience

  • Excellent understanding of basic cell biology.
  • Excellent problem solving and analytical skills.
  • Excellent communication skills.


You may be eligible to apply for a research scholarship.

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