PhD Scholarship Top-up student profile: Ameline Lim

10 September 2014
TCRN PhD Scholarship Top-up Recipient: Ameline Lim

Metabolomic modelling in Glioblastoma and normal human Astrocytes

Award: Xin Ying (Ameline) is the recipient of a one-year PhD Scholarship Top-up

Supervisor:  Dr. Anthony Don, Team Leader of Metabolite Signalling Group at the Lowy Cancer Research Centre and senior lecturer within the Prince of Wales Clinical School at UNSW.

Malignant astrocytic gliomas such as Glioblastoma (GBM) are the most common lethal brain tumours. In recent years, it is estimated that there are 500-1000 new cases of GBM each year in Australia and incidence is rising. Despite the invasive surgical removal of tumours coupled with radiotherapy and chemotherapy, the recurrence of GBM is inevitable with a median survival of less than 15 months and 5-year survival of less than 10%.

Altered cellular metabolism is a hallmark of cancer, which contributes to cancer cell growth and their resistance to cancer treatment. One of the important aspects of metabolism that should be considered in GBM is lipid metabolism since the brain is a very lipid rich organ. In my research project, I will combine the advances in human genome, genetic model systems and the detailed analysis of lipid metabolism to counter the complex biology of GBM. By utilising innovative tools for analysing publicly available genomic data together with modelling of cell metabolism, I will pin-point significant changes in metabolism in GBM. These metabolic weak points of the cancer can then be validated and further investigated using sophisticated GBM cell culture models and experimental analysis of metabolism.

My project will also investigate how new pre-clinical drugs provided by a commercial biotechnology partners target the altered metabolism of GBM cells to eliminate cancer cells. The project therefore has direct relevance for the development of new cancer therapeutics in Australia. 


What is the translational application of your research?

It may take as long as one or two decades for original research to be put into routine clinical practice. Thus, the translation of research findings into sustainable improvements in clinical practice and patient outcomes remains a significant obstacle to improving the quality of health care.

For my PhD project, I will utilise Liquid Chromatography Mass Spectrometry and big data analysis to study the metabolism of Glioblastoma stem cells and normal human astrocytes, to improve on current therapeutics targeting Glioblastoma and develop new therapeutic options. Our team has a commercial collaboration with the biotechnology company, Novogen investigating new drugs that target metabolism. These drugs are in pre-clinical development for Glioblastoma cancer cells.

My studies will also help to facilitate the evaluation of appropriate models and tools for drug development.


The TCRN provides opportunities for me to connect with many other researchers in the same field as well as to clinicians and patients. By connecting with other researchers, clinicians and patients, it allows me to learn about the research done by others and also valued opinions from the clinicians and patients’ perspective on my research approach.

Hence, such communications and interactions will inspire me to improve and improvise my experimental approach for better translational outcomes. In the long run, TCRN will broaden the networking opportunities through various interactive workshops and seminars.

Ameline Lim commenced her first year of PhD studies at the Prince of Wales Clinical School, UNSW in February 2014.

Read more about TCRN PhD Scholarship Top-Up Awardees