Postdoctoral fellow and/or PhD student for cancer research

Vacancy number: 190009

Apply no later than: 03 February 2019

Working environment

The European Research Institute for the Biology of Aging (ERIBA) is a research institute embedded with the University Medical Centre Groningen (UMCG). The mission of ERIBA is to better understand the molecular mechanisms that result in age-related decline and age-related diseases, such as neurodegenerative disease or cancer. We aim to develop novel strategies to prevent or combat age-related diseases and to provide evidence-based recommendations for healthy ageing. Our research teams are working with different model systems and technology platforms and share their knowledge and expertise to accelerate discoveries. The ERIBA is part of the central UMCG campus in the vibrant university city Groningen in the north of the Netherlands.

The Foijer lab at ERIBA is looking for a postdoctoral fellow and/or PhD student for a Dutch Cancer Society (KWF)-funded project:
With a rapidly ageing population, cancer incidences are on the rise. Chromosomal INstability (CIN) is one of the key drivers of cancer cells, fueling cells with potential to change their genomes into cancer-genomes that typically display major changes in the DNA content of the cell, a state known as aneuploidy. As aneuploidy discriminates cancer cells from healthy cells, it potentially provides a powerful target for therapy. However, in order to target aneuploid cells, we need to understand the impact of CIN and the resulting aneuploidy on (cancer) cells. However, while most cancers are aneuploid, by itself, this abnormal DNA content typically decreases cellular fitness, presumably because most chromosome combinations are non-beneficial. This aligns well with our observations that CIN-driven cancers frequently develop highly similar karyotypes that presumably represent the optimal karyotypic state despite frequent chromosome missegregation events.

Job description

In this project we will investigate how changes to karyotypes (i.e. karyotype evolution) influence cellular fitness of cancer cells and non-cancer cells. For this, we will use models recently developed in our lab as well as newly-developed models to generate aneuploid cells with various karyotypes, which will be analyzed for cellular fitness using various state of the art technologies including single cell DNA/RNA sequencing, high resolution time-lapse imaging and CRISPR functional screens. As CIN is an important driver for tumor karyotype evolution, it also helps cancer cells acquire therapy resistance. We will therefore, in parallel, use similar approaches to investigate this process in more detail, taking advantage of our existing models measuring the frequency of drug resistance phenotypes and determining the contribution of CIN to these phenotypes.

Together, this project will reveal how karyotypic variability affects cancer cell fitness and evolution in state-of-the-art models for chromosome instable cancer. As we will also determine the mechanisms underlying the fitness changes of cancer cells as a result of karyotypic changes, our work will contribute to the development of drugs that target CIN cancers and prevent further evolution of the tumors, thus decreasing the chances for metastasis, tumor recurrence and therapy resistance.

For more information, also see:
1. Foijer F et al, eLIFE. 2017 Mar 20;6. pii: e20873
2. Bakker B, et al. Genome Biol. 2016 May 31;17(1):115.
3. Foijer F et al, Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2014 Sep 16;111(37):13427-32

What do we need

For this Dutch Cancer Society-funded project, we are looking for an ambitious and highly motivated postdoctoral fellow and/ or PhD student.
Further qualifications:

  • MSc or PhD in bio-molecular sciences, medical biology or related area
  • Experience with primary cell cultures and (single cell) sequencing platforms is a big plus
  • Affinity and/or experience with bioinformatics
  • Inquisitive, pro-active and independent research attitude
  • Excellent communication skills and a team player
  • Technically aptThe 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 Behaviour’ is required.What do we offerMore informationApplying for a job
  • Please use the digital application form at  the website of the UMCG.- only these will be processed. You can apply until February 3 2019. Immediately after sending the digital application form you will receive an email- confirmation with further information.
  • For more information about the vacancy you can contact the project leader Dr. F. Foijer, e-mail: f.foijer@umcg.nl (please do not use this e-mail address for applications)
  • Both positions are for 4 years (with one-year trial period).
    Salary indication for the postdoc position is scale 10, with a maximum salary amount of € 4.361,- gross per month, depending on your qualifications and experience, based on a full-time position.
    The PhD position is for 4 years. PhD students receive a starting salary of € 2.357,- gross per month in year 1, increasing € 3.020,- in year 4, based on a fulltime position.
    In addition, the UMCG will offer you 8% holiday pay and 8.3% end-of-year bonus.
    The terms of employment comply with the Collective Labour Agreement for Medical Centers (CAO-UMC).
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