Every year, the Jreissati Pancreatic Centre at Epworth awards three PhD top-up scholarships to support outstanding individuals pursuing a doctoral degree in Victoria with a specific focus on pancreatic cancer research. These scholarships are intended to supplement existing funding and provide additional financial support to selected candidates. Each scholarship comprises $10,000 AUD per year for a maximum of three years. 

We welcome applications at various stages of investigation, encompassing all areas of pancreatic cancer research: 

  • fundamental/basic research
  • diagnostic advancements
  • innovative treatment strategies
  • translational studies
  • initiatives related to cancer survivorship.
The next round of applications will open in June 2024.
 

Past projects

Here are a few examples of PhD candidates we’ve helped to fund:


Sakshi Arora

The Olivia Newton-John Cancer Research Institute

Project title: Investigating the role of EphA3 and ADAM10 as novel therapeutic targets in pancreatic cancer progression

Summary: We are investigating two proteins (called EphA3 and ADAM10) that we found to be increased in pancreatic cancers and associated with poor patient outcomes. Our preliminary research showed that reducing levels of these proteins in pancreatic cancer cells or the surrounding tumour microenvironment inhibits pancreatic cancer growth. We will now use antibodies that we developed to specifically bind these proteins, as tumour selective drugs, to determine if they could be effective in blocking tumour growth, as a basis for new anti-cancer therapies.


Arian Ansardamavandi

The University of Melbourne

Project title: Role of P21activated kinase (PAKs) in vascular normalisation and tumour immune response

Summary: Solid cancers are known to develop dysfunctional blood vessels. Additionally, approximately 90% of pancreatic cancers are caused by genetic aberrations, including mutations in the KRAS gene. KRAS activates the P21-activated kinase (PAK) cascade which plays a pivotal role in promoting cancer growth and effectiveness of chemotherapy. Utilising mouse models of pancreatic cancer, we will investigate PAK’s effects on tumour vessels and modulating fibrosis (scar tissue) within pancreatic cancer.

 

Clara Kosasih

Walter and Eliza Hall Institute

Project title: Targeting cytokine receptor signalling as a new treatment

Summary: Cytokines are small proteins that enable cells within our body to communicate. We have shown pancreatic cancer has elevated levels of a cytokine that unexpectedly interacts with epidermal growth factor receptor (EGFR). This is important, as drugs that target EGFR are available to pancreatic cancer patients; however, pancreatic tumours seem to be resistant. We will utilise our patient-derived pancreatic cancer models to explore these interactions and design combination treatment strategies to overcome resistance.