Cancer Council NSW is an independent charity, and the only organisation that works across every area of every cancer: research, prevention, support and advocacy. Cancer Council NSW is dedicated to conducting and funding world-class research that underpins our work in preventing cancer.

The Cancer Research Division is offering three PhD scholarships, each one for three years. Two scholarships focus on Lynch Syndrome (LS) and the third focuses on lung cancer in the Pathways to a Cancer-Free Future program.


Supervisor: Dr Natalie Taylor

Engagement with consumers who are affected by Lynch syndrome

Lynch syndrome (LS) is an inherited cancer syndrome which significantly increases a carrier’s lifetime risk of several cancers, most notably colorectal cancer (CRC). Recent Australian data has shown that up to 54% of CRC patients with suspicious LS phenotypes were not referred for genetic testing. Evidence indicates that hospitals and patients face a plethora of infrastructure, psychosocial and environmental barriers to detect LS patients.

As part of a large CCNSW research program, this project will investigate both qualitative and quantitative perspectives of individuals with LS throughout their patient journey, which may include genetics referral, screening, disease detection, treatment and/or surveillance.

This will be a mixed methods PhD project and may consist of the following components.

  • Development of a discrete choice experiment to assess hypothetical scenarios amongst people (general public + LS individuals) about testing uptake and result dissemination
  • Development of a health-state preference survey questionnaire to quantitatively assess utility/disutility of impactful health states
  • Use the two studies above to better estimate quality-adjusted life years, and cost-effectiveness of screening pathways for LS patients

This PhD project will be linked to two existing LS projects being conducted at CCNSW: 1) NHMRC funded project to perform cost-effectiveness evaluation of screening for LS mutation carriers; and 2) Cancer Institute NSW and Cancer Australia co-funded project to improve detection of colorectal cancer patients with a high risk of LS.

The overarching aim of this PhD will be to generate new and robust evidence regarding utilities and dis-utilities for LS patients that can be entered into the existing LS model, and further improve estimates of cost-effectiveness of LS screening pathways.

Vitally, this PhD will capture a more holistic understanding of the patient perceived perspectives regarding LS testing and treatment options in Australia.


Supervisor: Dr Natalie Taylor

Investigating factors affecting the impact of interventions to improve referral of colorectal cancer patients with a high likelihood risk of Lynch Syndrome

Currently, a national project is underway to test the impact of theory-based interventions within the health service on improving referral behaviours for colorectal cancer patients with a high likelihood risk of LS.

Understanding how change has happened, through the identification of mechanisms of action and the assessment of intervention fidelity, so that effective components of interventions can be scaled up, and translated across different clinical problems, contexts, and population groups, is essential.

Through a range of mix-method theory based process evaluations, mediation analyses, and sub-study designs, this PhD will aim to identify and understand the mediating mechanisms underpinning interventions aimed at optimising the identification of LS patients in Australia.

This work will also aim to enhance understanding of the range of processes and pathways that are used to identify LS patients across Australian states and Local Health Districts.


Supervisor: Dr Nicole Rankin

Pathways to a cancer-free future

The Pathways to a cancer-free future (‘Pathways’) program presents an innovative approach to addressing those interventions that are likely to have the greatest impact on improving lung cancer outcomes by 2040. The program will make a significant contribution to reducing the burden of illness in the Australian population by engaging with key stakeholders, guiding future research priorities and health policy, and translating research evidence into action. Pathways is underpinned by multiple streams of work in statistical modelling and projections, systematic reviews, exploration of large epidemiological datasets and implementation science.

The applicant will be expected to work as part of the lung cancer team to identify and evaluate relevant lung cancer interventions and focus on one topic area, choosing from either: interventions to improve the early detection of lung cancer, or psychosocial, palliative and survivorship care interventions to improve quality of life. The applicant should be willing to explore issues concerning the value and cost of interventions, how they will translate into real-world settings and the potential to translate into policy. An ability to engage with key stakeholders, including consumers and experts in lung cancer and other relevant areas, will be required.


Applicants should have an academic background in epidemiology, public or population health, health sciences, psychology, behavioural science, health economics, or a related discipline. A bachelor’s degree with first-class honours (including a research component equating to one full time semester of study), or equivalent research experience, with publications in refereed journals is highly desirable.

The PhD stipend is AU $30,000 per year, tax free, and is currently available for three years from Semester 1, 2018. An additional $2,500 funding to support research activities will be available each year for all three candidates. Candidates must be a citizen or permanent resident of Australia or New Zealand. The research will be carried out at Cancer Council NSW. The successful candidate must also fulfil the entry requirements for admission to candidature for the degree of Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) at the University of Sydney. Please refer to The University of Sydney – Postgraduate research entry requirements via this link:

Interested candidates should submit their CV, a cover letter (which should include which of the three scholarships is of interest), and academic transcripts to Emily Hogden before 5pm, Friday 19th January 2018 via email:

For further information please email

Apply Now
  • Reference:
  • Location: Sydney
  • Skill: Research, Policy & Analysis
  • Work type: Full Time
Back to search results