High Value Nutraceuticals Masters Scholarship

Closing date: 30/11/2021
Extended to November
Value of Award: $12,500 per annum stipendContribution to tuition fees $7,500
No. of awards: One
Tenure: The scholarship is for one year of full-time study (120 points) only.  The recipient must commence study no later than February 2022.


Application Form

Cervical cancer is one of the most common cancers in women. In New Zealand (NZ), Māori women have almost twice the incidence compared with non- Māori women. Cervical cancer is mainly caused by human papillomavirus (HPV). Despite the HPV vaccination becoming more available, there are still many cervical cancer patients diagnosed every year in NZ who need effective treatment. Dendritic cells (DC) are professional antigen presenting cells uniquely able to induce naïve T cell activation and effector differentiation. DC-based vaccine hence becomes a potentially effective cancer immunotherapy. However, a DC-based vaccine requires adjuvant(s) to induce effective immune response. We have previously identified that a polysaccharide named fucoidan extracted NZ seaweed Undaria pinnatifida has antiproliferation effect in cultured cervical cancer cells, and the low molecular weight fucoidan (LMWF) fraction also exerts immunomodulation effect in vitro. We have discovered that U. pinnatifida grown in NZ contains a unique LMWF fraction, which has better bioactivities compared with others. We therefore hypothesise that fucoidan, especially the low molecular weight fraction, extracted from NZ seaweed U. pinnatifida, can be developed into an adjuvant to HPV DC-based cancer immunotherapy. It is expected that with the enhanced response, the combination immunotherapy will become an effective treatment for cervical cancer.

The overall aim of this research is to discover the potential of LMWF extracted from NZ seaweed U. pinnatifida to be developed into an adjuvant in cervical cancer immunotherapy. The specific aims are: 1) successfully obtain LMWF and develop a LMWF formulation as a potential immune-adjuvant; 2) study LMWF’s ability to stimulate DC proliferation and maturation and its effect as an immuno-adjuvant in a cell culture system. The main outcome will be an immuno-adjuvant to be developed and ready to be applied in the clinical setting. Such new use will be attractive to researchers around the world, and we will submit the results to high impact journal for publication. An effective immuno-adjuvant may lead to a successful immunotherapy for cervical cancer, which will benefit all patients.

Selection criteria:

  • 1) The successful candidate will demonstrate enthusiasm and have an outstanding academic record and be prepared to conduct the doctoral study in Auckland, New Zealand. 2) High proficiency in English is essential. Applicants who have completed tertiary and/or postgraduate education in English will be prioritised. 3)  Knowledge in the areas of biochemistry, biomedical science, human physiology, chemistry, and clinical trial would be an advantage. 4) The holding of this scholarship is conditional on acceptance into the AUT Master of Science (Research) or Master of Philosophy programme. Applicants must fulfil all conditions for admission to the AUT MSc (Research) or MPhil programme in AUT University, which can be found on the AUT University website https://www.aut.ac.nz/study/study-options/science. This includes having completed the required academic qualifications for direct entry and meeting the requirements for English language proficiency. 5) Due to COVID-19 situation, no offshore international applicant will be considered. Students who are already in New Zealand, both domestic and international can apply.

General Information:

How do students apply?
Applicants must complete the online application available through the AUT Scholarships Database www.aut.ac.nz/scholarships. The following documentation must be uploaded or received on or before the closing date.  1) A cover letter describing your research experience and your interest in this project. 2) A curriculum vitae (no more than 3 pages) including the names and contact details of two referees. 3) Academic transcript(s) for any previous tertiary study that was completed at a university other than AUT.  4) Two academic references.  Applicants must not submit referee’s reports directly but send a request to their referees from the online application system. Please advise your referees that they will be receiving an email requesting a reference statement.
Application Form

Decision makers
Applications will be considered by the principal investigator of the project and will be based on demonstrated strength in the following: 1) the applicant’s academic record; 2) the applicant’s past research experience and publication record (if appropriate); 3) the referees’ statements. The Selection panel’s decision will be final. The scholarship will not be awarded if the selection panel is of the opinion that the applicants are not of sufficient merit; the position may then be re-advertised.  

How and when do students learn of the decision?
Applicants will be notified of the outcome by the University Scholarships Office once the panel have made their decisions.

What conditions are attached to acceptance of this award?
The stipend cannot be released until the successful applicant is enrolled at in the AUT Master of Science (Research) or Master of Philosophy programme at AUT. The scholarship is to be taken up no later than February 2022. The successful applicant will be required to sign the AUT Postgraduate Scholarships Contract.  

Additional information
CLOSING DATE: Applications are open and will close on 30 November 2021. If an appropriate candidate is not identified the scholarship may be reopened.

Who else has information about this award?
It is recommended that you contact Professor Jun Lu (jun.lu@aut.ac.nz) to discuss the project and requirement before sending in your application.

For guidelines, application forms and more information about this award contact:

Auckland University of Technology

Phone: +64 9 921 9837

Email: scholars@aut.ac.nz

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