The Higher Thinking Scholarship for Low Grade Brain Tumour Research

3-Year PhD Scholarship Award

$30,000 per year scholarship

Supervisor: A/Prof Kerrie McDonald

Laboratory: Cure Brain Cancer Foundation Biomarkers and Translational Research Group, Lowy Cancer Research Centre, UNSW

As Australia’s only dedicated laboratory to understanding the progression and treatment of low-grade brain tumours, this is a unique opportunity for a student wanting to undertake PhD studies.

Low-grade brain tumours affect very young adults (24-48 years of age). The cause is unknown. Despite being relatively benign in nature, low-grade brain tumours can cause seizures, significant cognitive deficits and high morbidity. Unfortunately, low-grade brain tumours have a high propensity to progress to higher grade, malignant brain tumours.

There are currently no novel treatment options for low-grade brain tumours. This is the major focus of our laboratory- to treat the brain tumour and prevent disease progression.  As a direct result of funding from “Higher Thinking”, we have developed crucial laboratory models of low-grade brain tumours. We have initiated and molecularly characterized low-grade brain tumour cell lines and also animal models.

The objective of this new PhD project will be to utilize the models we have developed and subject the cell lines to a high-throughput drug screen at the Lowy Cancer Research Centre.  The drug-screening facility has the potential to screen over 300 FDA-approved drugs in one session and identify novel drugs that have cell killing capacity. The student will identify new treatments and validate their effectiveness and ability to cross into the brain using our mouse models. Ultimately, this PhD project will result in the development of new clinical trials for low-grade brain tumour patients.

How to apply:

Interested applicants are invited to contact Associate Professor Kerrie McDonald ( and should include the following:

  • Expression of interest
  • Up-to-date CV
  • Academic transcripts
  • PhD project