Principal Advisor: Dr Mitchell Stark

Email: m.stark@uq.edu.au

Phone: 07 3443 8027

Research group: Stark Group - Skin cancer genomics and biomarker discovery

Organisational unit: UQ Diamantina Institute

Melanoma can be a deadly disease if metastatic dissemination is allowed to go unchecked. In most cases, an early invasive melanoma is surgically removed but there is currently no way to accurately predict if this melanoma has already spread internally. Circulating, blood-based biomarkers, or a ‘liquid biopsy,’ is an avenue that can enable minimally invasive early detection of progressive disease. Metastatic melanoma now has some effective advance therapeutic options, however not all patients respond. Advanced therapeutic options are known to be more effective if disseminated disease is detected early, however the decision for adjuvant therapy is currently made according to the sentinel lymph node biopsy (SLNB) status; but this procedure is unable to capture all melanoma recurrence and cannot be applied to all melanoma patients. This PhD project will explore the use of liquid biopsies in early and late-stage disease. The successful candidate will have access to clinically well-annotated melanoma patients from existing studies as well as a prospective trial of melanoma patients eligible for SNLB with a goal of determining if a liquid biopsy can predict SNLB status. These data will guide future clinical care of melanoma patients.