Study level

  • Honours

Faculty/School

Topic status

We're looking for students to study this topic.

Research centre

Supervisors

Associate Professor Pamela Pollock
Position
Associate Professor
Division / Faculty
Faculty of Health

External supervisors

  • Dr Darren Korbie AIBN
  • Prof Sandi Hayes Menzies Institute

Overview

Ovarian cancer is the sixth most common cause of death from cancer in women, with a five-year survival rate of less than 45 per cent. However, there is emerging research that shows the benefits of exercise therapy during recovery following certain cancer treatments, and how exercise can improve and extend the lives of women with ovarian cancer.

This project is a collaboration exploring these health and survival outcomes in ovarian and other gynaecological cancers, and in particular how new diagnostic testing can be used to profile and understand the molecular mechanisms that explain why cancer outcomes are enhanced by exercise. 

The ultimate goal of the project is to develop a ‘molecular clock’ assay which can predict a patient’s cellular age, and examine if exercise therapy for cancer patients can reverse the accelerated molecular ageing induced by chemotherapy, and whether there are correlations to health and survival outcomes.

Nanotechnology aspects of the research project will focus on two fundamental molecular diagnostic applications:

  • monitoring of immune cytokine response in cancer patients with applications related to a novel nanopillar ‘immunostorm’ chip
  • next-generation sequencing applications, bioinformatics, and epigenetics from blood samples collected from cancer patients during the trial.

Hypotheses

  1. The stress and toxic chemotherapy inherent to cancer diagnosis and treatment cause accelerated molecular ageing at the cellular level due to inflammation, which can be measured with ‘molecular clock’ assays.
  2. The outcomes of clinical exercise interventions can reverse the accelerated cellular ageing induced by chemotherapy.

Aims

The project aims to:

  • develop a novel molecular assay which measures different proteins, cytokines, and/or epigenetic markers predicted to correlated to cellular age and exercise outcomes
  • assess the performance of the assay in a cohort of clinical samples from patients who have undergone a clinical exercise intervention
  • relate the results of the assay back to the clinical outcomes achieved in the study, e.g., long-term survival, response to exercise, reversal of molecular ageing.

The research project is a collaboration between QUT and the Australian Institute for Bioengineering and Nanotechnology at the University of Queensland, and Menzies Institute of Health, Griffith University.

Research activities

Overall, applicants can expect to engage in a multidisciplinary program of research that will expose them to nanofabrication techniques, molecular biology and next-generation sequencing, molecular diagnostics, and its application in real-world cancer care and clinical exercise science.

Outcomes

The project will develop a novel assay that will predict a patient’s cellular age, which would be used to provide molecular data examining whether an individual’s ‘molecular clock’ can be reversed through exercise.

You will be mentored in scientific writing, with the end goal of submitting a paper for publication by the end of the Honour project.

Skills and experience

You should apply if you are interested in:

  • molecular diagnostics
  • applied clinical science
  • nanotechnology in a cancer setting.

Similarly, clinical exercise physiology, exercise science and exercise physiologist students interested in:

  • exploring the biochemistry
  • biomarkers underlying clinical exercise science.

Scholarships

You may be eligible to apply for a research scholarship.

Explore our research scholarships

Keywords

Contact

Contact the supervisor for more information.