Study level


Master of Philosophy

Faculty/Lead unit

Topic status

We're looking for students to study this topic.


Dr Arutha Kulasinghe
Research Fellow
Division / Faculty
Faculty of Health
Professor Ken O'Byrne
Professor of Medical Oncology
Division / Faculty
Faculty of Health
Professor Derek Richard
Chenhall Research Scientist
Division / Faculty
Faculty of Health


Lung cancers are the leading cause of cancer related deaths in Australia, with a 5-year survival of 15%. With the emerging success of immune checkpoint blockage leading to durable responses and prolonged survival in 15-40% of cases, there is now a need for predictive biomarkers to guide selection for immunotherapies.

The immune contexture of the tumour microenvironment (TME) is an important factor in dictating how well a tumour may respond to immune checkpoint therapies (1). Spatial and immunological composition with cellular status can aid in identifying micro-niches within the TME. This project aims to spatially map tumours using digital spatial profiling technology (1,2) (NanoString GeoMX DSP and Multiplex-IHC) to understand the tumour-immune cell interactions at play.


  1. Describe the spatial immune contexture in non-small-cell lung cancer
  2. Identify spatial biomarkers associated with disease outcome.


  1. Wargo et al., Nature Medicine 2018;
  2. Rimm et al., Clinical Cancer Research 2019, 2020.

Approaches/Skills and techniques

  • Multiplex immunohistochemistry
  • Cell sorting (FACS)
  • Microscopy (Inverted, confocal, high resolution)
  • Spatial/geometric mapping of cells


The findings will spatially describe the tumour microenvironment in lung cancer to identify biomarkers associated with disease outcome. These findings will represent a novel means by which to identify whether a specific therapy would be effective from diagnostic tissue biopsy. Ultimately leading to a more personalised treatment for lung cancer patients.



Contact the Supervisor for more information.