Research Supervisor Connect

How invasive cancer cells negotiate the 3D tissue environment


My team uses cell biology approaches to discover the cellular machinery that allows deadly, invasive cancer cells to negotiate the surronding 3D environment.


Associate Professor Geraldine O'Neill.

Research location

Westmead - Childrens Hospital at Westmead Clinical School

Program type



A key emerging question in cancer biology today is how cancer cells negotiate the mechanical and structural features of the surrounding tissue as they migrate through the tissue to form secondary tumours. My team actively pursue how cancer cells coordinate their cytoskeleton with adhesion to the extra-cellular matrix during interstitial dissemination and invasion. We particularly focus on two tumour types that appear to originate from neural crest cells: glioblastoma brain tumours and neuroblastoma. For each of these tumours the ability of the cancer cells to invade and spread is a major obstacle to successful treatment.

Techniques used in the project:
We use different model systems (3D gels and gels with defined biophysical characteristics) together with a range of cell biology and microscopy techniques to investigate glioblastoma and neuroblastoma invasion.

Possible areas for PhD research projects: I have a number of projects available that can be tailored to suit students' interests for either PhD or Masters candidates.

Additional information

My lab is based at the Kids Research Institute of the Children's Hospital at Westmead. We have a highly supportive post-graduate team on campus providing local student support. We have ready access to the latest confocal microscopes, an in-house live cell imaging microscope, KRI-supported microscopy specialist who provides training and assistance, recently installed TIRF-capable microscope and extensive laboratory and tissue culture facilities.

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Opportunity ID

The opportunity ID for this research opportunity is 147