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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)
Professor Margreet Vissers


PhD candidates are being recruited to join the team at the Centre of Free Radical Research, University of Otago, Christchurch.

At the Centre for Free Radical Research you will complete your postgraduate study while working alongside other students and experienced scientists from all over the world.

We have projects for cell biology, biochemistry or genetics students, and for medical students, or nutrition students.

Potential topics include:

  • Understanding the regulation of the hypoxic response in cancer biology in cancer biology, using cell culture models, animal models of breast cancer and glioma, and human clinical studies. We are particularly interested in how vitamin C influences tumour hypoxia and how this could interact with chemotherapy and radiation, using any and all of the above methods.
  • The effects of optimal micronutrient intake on human health and immunity. We are particularly interested in the regulation of the fate and function of neutrophil immune cells under conditions of hypoxia which occur commonly at inflammatory sites. Vitamin C affects the hypoxic response and neutrophil fate and will be a focus of our investigation. This project involves live cell imaging and monitoring of neutrophil cell death processes in vitro, in conjunction with measurement of cell biology and signalling changes.
  • Understanding the regulation of the vitamin C dependent 2‐oxoglutarate‐dependent dioxygenases that control the hypoxic response and many epigenetic processes. The enzymes of interest are the proline and asparagine hydroxylases that regulate the HIF transcription factors, the TET enzymes that are DNA demethylases and the Jumonji enzymes that demethylate histones. The TET and Jumonji enzymes are important in regulating epigenetic processes. These projects involve cell biology and genetics methodologies.

Applicants must be eligible for admission to the PhD programme at the University of Otago.

PhD programme entry requirements

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 are likely to be guaranteed a University of Otago Doctoral Scholarship.

University of Otago Doctoral Scholarship

Other scholarship opportunities


In the first instance, applicants should contact Professor Margreet Vissers by email to discuss a project. Further information may be sought from suitable candidates that will include:

  • 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.


Margreet Vissers

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