Current scholarships available

PhD position - Chemistry – Synthesis of analogues of pateamine

Centre for Biodiscovery, Victoria University of Wellington

The natural product pateamine is a potent inhibitor of eukaryotic initiation factor 4A (eIF4A).  eIF4A has recently been identified as a target in the treatment of cachexia (muscle wasting) and for overcoming drug resistance in cancers. The goal of this project is the synthesis of pateamine analogues, which will inform structure-activity relationship studies and investigate the potential for selectivity between eIF4A isoforms. This PhD position is funded by Worldwide Cancer Research and will focus on developing a synthetic route to new pateamine analogues, under the supervision of Associate Professor Paul Teesdale-Spittle, Dr Joanne Harvey and Professor Gary Evans.

Prospective candidates should have a strong Masters or Honours degree with experience in organic synthesis and good organisational, time management and communication skills.  The successful candidate will join a vibrant research group and gain experience in a broad range of organic chemical reactions and relevant analytical techniques.


Full stipend of NZ$23,500 plus a contribution to fees of up to NZ$8,000 per annum for three years.


Applications should include a cover letter, CV and academic transcript sent to Paul Teesdale-Spittle (

Closes 1 June 2015 or when position is filled thereafter.

PhD position – Chemistry - Cancer vaccines

The Ferrier Research Institute, Victoria University of Wellington

Unlike traditional cancer therapies, such as chemotherapy, radiotherapy and surgery that target malignant tissue directly, cancer immunotherapy targets the immune system. Cancer vaccines are a form of cancer immunotherapy that aim to 'retrain' the immune system to see and kill malignant tissue using natural pathways. With the explosion of new knowledge in the field of chemical immunology, we are now able to design and manufacture synthetic peptide vaccines for the fight against cancer.

These vaccines contain protein fragments known as tumour associated antigens (TAAs) that when associated with appropriate additional signals, are able to target and kill cancer cells in a controlled manner.

In a collaboration with other Maurice Wilkins Centre investigators in the immunotherapy field, Professor Gavin Painter's team from the Ferrier Research Institute have already designed and synthesised a number of synthetic vaccine components that retrain the immune system to fight brain cancer and asthma.

The focus of this synthetic chemistry PhD project will be the design and synthesis of multi-component vaccines for melanoma.


The project is funded through the prestigious MWC scholarship programme and accompanied with a full stipend of NZ$25,000 per annum plus fees , for three years.


The position is only open to New Zealand permanent residents. Applicants should complete the PhD Admission and Scholarship application online available online clearly indicating they wish to apply for the Cancer Vaccine’s Scholarship. The position will remain open until filled.