HDR Scholarship - Establishing immunophenotyping protocols in saliva

Applications now open. A PhD scholarship is available to initiate and conduct research on the topic 'Establishing immunophenotyping protocols in saliva'.

Project Supervisor

Additional Supervision


Geelong Waurn Ponds Campus

Research topic

Immunophenotyping has become an essential component of the diagnosis, treatment and management of leukaemia and other blood-based conditions. Sampling for these assays is currently conducted using invasive methods designed to obtain and isolate immune white blood cells from blood samples via a catheter system. These blood draws carry a high risk of adverse patient outcomes and are associated with decreased patient comfort. Saliva sampling represents a novel approach to conducting these assays, being easily acquired and with minimal risk to patients. Although nucleated white blood cells have previously been confirmed in saliva, studies focusing on the quantification, isolation, and preservation of these cells are rare.

The project will focus on establishing evidence of a novel, non-invasive protocol for immunophenotyping in saliva. This project will build on pilot data by developing preservation & isolation protocols & analysing cell content using various methods based on cell size, density, and immune phenotype. The project will also develop protocols for Fluorescent Activated Cells Sorting (FACS), microfluidic separation and application to the diagnosis and monitoring of specific human blood disorders. The endpoint of these studies will be commercialisation and translation to clinical immunophenotyping protocols.

Project aim

The main research question is ‘Can we preserve, isolate, and sort the immune cells found in saliva samples?’ We hypothesise that immune white blood cells (peripheral blood mononuclear cells) can be isolated and preserved in saliva samples. FACS, cytology and microfluidics can be used to sort the cells isolated from saliva samples. The project aims are:

  1. To establish a proof-of-concept for immunophenotyping in saliva samples using flow cytometry;
  2. To develop a microfluidic device to further investigation of immune cell subtypes in saliva;
  3. To compare and evaluate the efficacy, robustness, reliability of three broad cell quantification/ separation approaches (FACS, cytology and microfluidics).

Important dates

Applications will remain open until a candidate has been appointed


This scholarship is available over 3 years.

  • Stipend of $28,900 per annum tax exempt (2022 rate)
  • Relocation allowance of $500-1500 (for single to family) for students moving from interstate
  • International students only:  Tuition fees offset for the duration of 4 years. Single Overseas Student Health Cover policy for the duration of the student visa.

Eligibility criteria

To be eligible you must:

  • be either a domestic or international candidate. Domestic includes candidates with Australian Citizenship, Australian Permanent Residency or New Zealand Citizenship.
  • meet Deakin's PhD entry requirements
  • be enrolling full time and hold an honours degree (first class) or an equivalent standard master's degree with a substantial research component.

Please refer to the research degree entry pathways page for further information.

Additional desirable criteria include:

  • An Honours or Master’s degree in Pathology, Biochemistry, Molecular Biology, or relevant disciplines.
  • Experience in pathology or cytology
  • Experience in working cancer and/or haematological conditions
  • Excellent communication, time-management and organisation skills

How to apply

Please email a cover letter, CV and academic transcript to Dr Wong and Prof Craig. The CV should highlight your skills, education, publications and relevant work experience. If you are successful you will then be invited to submit a formal application.


Contact us

For more information about this scholarship, please contact Dr Yen Ting Wong or Prof Jeffrey Craig

Dr Yen Ting Wong
Email Yen Ting Wong
+61 3 522 78797

Prof Jeffrey Craig
Email Prof Jeffrey Craig
+61 3 522 78655