Lung Cancer PhD Scholarships – the Neville Bantoft Bequest
Through its National Lung Cancer Program Lung Foundation Australia (LFA) has facilitated a partnership between Australian universities and the Bantoft family to establish four co-funded lung cancer PhD scholarships supporting lung cancer researchers throughout the period 2013-2016.
The process began in 2011 when Mr John Bantoft contacted LFA to request a proposal for a bequest for his son, Neville, who was diagnosed and passed away from lung cancer aged 40. In discussions with the family it was identified that research into lung cancer, particularly non-smoking related lung cancer or lung cancer in the young, was their inspiration for the use of these funds.
LFA proposed to use the funds to encourage young researchers/clinicians to undertake lung cancer research via 3 year PhD Scholarships, to further understanding and potentially stimulate the next generation of doctors to become specialists or develop a special interest in lung cancer.
In 2013 expressions of interest from Universities around Australia were invited to partner, co-fund and administer the PhD scholarships for researchers commencing a higher degree. The University of Queensland, Edith Cowan University WA and University of Tasmania agreed to match or provide a greater contribution towards the scholarships in line with the NHMRC Standard or Clinical Stipend levels. A fourth scholarship was co-funded in 2014 by Federation University in Victoria.
- The University of Queensland Thoracic Research Centre will address ways to translate molecular medicine for lung cancer patients. Diagnostic biopsies in lung cancer are usually small and a challenge for molecular testing. This PhD will examine ways of testing and finding actionable mutations and biomarkers that have clinical utility for improving outcomes for people with lung cancer through precision medicine.
- University of Tasmania aims to assess the effectiveness of cell culture models of COPD with respect to epithelial to mesenchymal transition. Cell culture models will be used to further understanding of the molecular mechanism of COPD and its link to lung cancer and to test potential therapeutic agents.
- Edith Cowan University is working to improve the lives of patients with lung cancer through the use of exercise as medicine. They are collaborating with Professor Gary Lee at Sir Charles Gairdner Hospital to study the effects of exercise in mesothelioma.
- At Federation University the Berzins group has identified a significant defect in the frequency of mucosal associated invariant T cells in the blood and tumour tissue of patients with lung cancer compared to blood from healthy donors. The project will characterise these cells in patients with lung cancer using different functional assays and investigate the significance of the defect by studying the interactions between MAIT cells and the tumor cells.
Continuing its support of lung cancer research, LFA is establishing three new co-funded PhD scholarships and a call for expressions of interest will be made in the coming weeks. The LFA annual $10,000 grant-in-aid will open for applications at the same time. If your institution is interested to partner, co-fund and administer these scholarships, and for more information about the application process, contact Glenda Colburn, Director – Lung Cancer National Program.