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Investigating breast cancer cell signalling pathways activated by cancer associated adipocytes

A postgraduate research opportunity at the University of Otago.


Close date
Friday, 23 February 2018
Academic background
Sciences, Health Sciences
Host campus
On-campus or via distance?
Pathology and Biomedical Science (UOC)
Dr Margaret Currie, Dr Elisabeth Phillips


In breast cancer, many obese patients have worse outcomes and shorter survival following chemotherapy, but the reasons remain unclear. Recent publications, and our own studies, have shown that breast cancer cells that are cultured with breast adipocytes (fat cells) become more invasive and more resistant to radiation therapy and chemotherapy drugs.

To begin to understand how fat cells are promoting breast cancer cell invasion and resistance to therapy, we have used discovery mass spectrometry to identify proteins and peptides secreted by cancer associated adipocytes (CAA). In addition, we have identified breast cancer cell proteins and peptides that are up- and down-regulated by CAA and their secreted products.

We are looking for a BBiomedSc (Hons) to join our established team, to investigate key signalling pathways involved in this breast cancer cell response to cancer associated adipocytes. The student will learn cell culture and various techniques for analysing proteins (e.g Western analysis and targeted inhibition of key signalling molecules).

Preferred student expertise

An enthusiastic science student with an interest in cancer biology who has some previous laboratory experience.

Further information

This project is one of the many available for the 2018 intake of BBiomedSc(Hons) at the University of Otago, Christchurch campus.


Dr Margaret Currie
Tel   64 3 364 0544