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PhD-student (ESR5): Targeted inhibition of novel immune checkpoints

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DepartmentDept. of Hematology
Apply no later than30 April 2019

Working environment

The PhD candidate will be working as part of an international consortium on their search for an immunotherapeutic approach to cancer treatment and will start their 3 year research project at the University Medical Center Groningen (UMCG) / Netherlands, one of the leading academic centers of the Netherlands. At the UMCG, functional immunomodulatory activity of the new therapeutic approach will be performed using patient-derived tumor and immune cells. After 18 months, the candidate will continue in Berlin / Germany at the nanobiotechnology company Surflay Nanotec GmbH. Surflay is a leading company in nanoparticle development and Drug Delivery Systems (DDS) and binding analysis using whispering galley mode. With this project, the candidate will acquire experience in both industrial and academic research.

This project is part of a collaborative training network of 10 closely related projects (www.i-direct-itn.eu) in which PhD students will benefit from networking opportunities. This includes a multidisciplinary training programme with network-wide training events that will be provided to the candidates. Herewith, this project will yield the candidate a unique opportunity to obtain knowledge/expertise on important facets of academia and industry.

Job description

This PhD student position offers an exciting and innovative research project that aims to uncover and develop new immune checkpoints for cancer immunotherapy and will result in a PhD thesis. The project is dedicated to the validation and therapeutic antibody-based targeting of new immune checkpoints recently identified at the UMCG using (single cell) RNA sequencing of tumour-infiltrating lymphocytes. Further, antibodies will be embedded in drug delivery systems based on nanoparticles, e.g. optimized for long-term circulation and targeting to the tumour site by passive EPR mechanism and active binding of antibodies/peptides to the surface of particles. This research project will end with a PhD thesis defense at the University of Groningen.

Keywords: immune checkpoints, RNAseq, bispecific antibody, drug-delivery, surface modification nanoparticles


Key Responsibilities:

  • Multi-color IHC and flow cytometry on patient-derived material
  • Development of novel immune checkpoint antibody-based therapeutics
  • Preclinical in vitro and in vivo proof-of-concept studies using primary patient-derived cells
  • Various nanoparticle encapsulation, release and surface modification activities
  • Further optimization of the particle properties for long-term drug release and specific targeting
  • Development and optimization of polymeric scaffolds for realistic cell growth conditions
  • Ensuring controlled delivery of particles to targets and a controlled release of immobilized active material on-target via suitable triggers (pH, etc.)
  • Operation, optimization and further development of a bioanalysis platform that uses functionalized microparticles (model tumor cells) as sensors (Measurement principle: Whispering Gallery Modes)
  • Management, presentation and publication of research data

What do we need

  • You are in the first four years of your research career and not have a doctoral degree
  • Residence duration in the Netherlands does not exceed 12 months in total within the last 3 years
  • MSc in biochemistry, biology, biotechnology
  • Collaboration skills, demonstrating agility and initiative. Ability to communicate fluently and effectively in English

The UMCG has a preventive Hepatitis B policy. The UMCG can provide you with the vaccination, should it be required for your position.

In case of specific professions a ‘Certificate of Good Conduct’ is required.

What do we offer

A PhD student position for 3 years as part of a Marie Curie Actions Innovative Industrial Doctorate training network. 1st Hosting institution: Location: UMCG, Groningen, Netherlands, duration: 18 months. 2nd Hosting institution: Location: Surflay, Berlin, Germany, duration: 18 months. Intended start date: June 2019. Benefits according to EU MCA regulations.

Applying for a job
Please send your application to Contact as job application ESR5 Targeted inhibition of novel immune checkpoints. The application deadline is 30 April 2019.
(please do not use the digital application form)