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A postgraduate research opportunity at the University of Otago.


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Academic background
Health Sciences, Sciences
Host campus
Pathology and Biomedical Science (Christchurch)
Associate Professor Gabi Dachs, Dr Elisabeth Phillips, Professor Margreet Vissers, Professor Bridget Robinson


PhD candidates are being recruited to join the Mackenzie Cancer Research Group, University of Otago, Christchurch. Our group has close working relationships with cancer clinicians at Christchurch hospital, making our research highly translatable.
Cancerous tumours evolve numerous pathways to avoid destruction by anticancer therapy. Hypoxia (lack of oxygen) is a characteristic of most solid tumours and presents a poor prognostic indicator for many cancers. We are interested in ways to overcome or exploit tumour hypoxia. Our data indicates that areas low in oxygen are also likely to lack other nutrients, including vitamin C. We know that both vitamin C and iron function as cofactors for a super-family of enzymes that play a role in cancer progression, yet there are many unanswered questions. Potential student projects may utilise cell culture models, specialised animal models or clinical samples from patients with cancer to investigate:

  • Factors that determine vitamin C and iron uptake and accumulation in cancer cells
  • Interactions between cancer therapy and vitamin C
  • Alternative roles of vitamin C and iron in cancer cells
  • Effect of vitamin C on DNA methylation patterns
  • The role of iron in the hypoxic pathway

We are looking for enthusiastic and highly motivated science/biomedical science students to do their PhD, BBioMedSc(Hons), or other postgraduate degree with us. Ideal candidates would have a particular interest in cancer and a background in: cell biology, biochemistry or molecular biology.
Applicants must be eligible for admission to the PhD programme at the University of Otago.

Admission to the PhD programme

Funding Notes

Whether you are a domestic or an international student, the University of Otago has a range of Doctoral Scholarships available to you.

If you are a straight A student (GPA of 8 – 'A' grade) or higher, who has completed an Honours or Master's degree with an appropriate research component from a New Zealand university then you will be considered for a University of Otago Doctoral Scholarship.

University of Otago Doctoral Scholarship

Other scholarship opportunities


In the first instance, applicants should contact Associate Professor Gabi Dachs, Professor Margreet Vissers, Dr Elisabeth Phillips or Professor Bridget Robinson by email to discuss a project. Further information may be sought from suitable candidates, including:

  • a copy of your CV
  • a copy of your academic transcript
  • a pdf copy of your research thesis

Further Information

The Department of Pathology and Biomedical Science has a number of potential topics and projects on offer in the fields of biomedical science and pathology for a range of postgraduate qualifications, including PhD and BBiomedSc(Hons).
We welcome enquiries and encourage all prospective students to directly contact potential supervisors in their field of interest.


Gabi Dachs

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