Student Projects

CAR T cells – redirecting T cells for cancer immunotherapy

Project Supervisor/s

Suitable for Honours, Masters and PhD students

Chimeric Antigen Receptors (CARs) are genetically engineered molecules that can redirect T cells to recognise particular antigens, such as those expressed by cancer cells. T cells that are transduced by CAR targeting CD19 have been effective in treating B cell cancers, e.g. B-cell leukaemia and lymphoma, where conventional treatments have failed. This exciting technology is one of the major breakthroughs in cancer therapy this decade. However, not all patients respond, not all responses are durable and there is limited success to date in CAR T cells targeting solid cancers. This project involves developing and testing new concepts in CAR T cell engineering to make them more effective, safer and more able to target solid cancers. There is also an opportunity for students to be involved in clinical correlative research to better understand the immunobiological determinants of clinical response and toxicity. 


  • To develop new CAR T cells that are directed at novel antigens or combination of antigens using novel gating strategies.
  • To develop CAR T cells with different signalling functionality to enable their evasion of the immunosuppressive tumour microenvironment.
  • To examine the fate of CAR T cells and the bystander immune compartment in clinical CAR T cell therapy.

Approach/ Method

  • Molecular biology approaches to design and clone new CAR constructs and the generation of CAR T cells using viral vectors.
  • Functional testing of CAR T cells in vitro and in vivo using immunological techniques, including flow cytometry, live cell imaging and small animal models.
  • Analysis of clinical samples and correlation with clinical data.

To apply for this project, please contact the project supervisor/s

Ensure you have familiarised yourself with QIMR Berghofer's student program