Working at Amsterdam UMC

PhD Student | Cancer Biology and Pharmacology

Targeting key factors in extracellular vesicles and pancreatic cancer microenvironment for the individualized selection of effective drugs against metastasis.
PhD Student | Cancer Biology and Pharmacology
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  • Hours: 36 uur per week
  • Division: Laboratories
  • Contract type: fixed-term
  • Salary: € 2.495 - € 3.196
  • React until: 27 October 2021
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About your role

Pancreatic ductal adenocarcinoma (PDAC) is an extremely aggressive disease with notably poor prognosis, in urgent need of improved diagnostics and treatment strategies. Metastasis to the liver is the primary contributor to the dismal outcome of pancreatic cancer and most patients die of hepatic failure. A better understanding of the cell biology and metastasis mechanisms at play should provide new opportunities for improving patient care.

Patients with liver metastasis have worse 5-years survival compared to patients with lung and nodal metastasis. Despite the morphological closeness of these organs and the common infiltration of the vasculature, the extremely high frequency of liver metastasis is poorly understood. Recent studies suggest an important role for extracellular vesicle (EV)-mediated interactions between the primary and metastatic tumors and their surrounding tissues.

EVs or ‘exosomes’ have long been considered only as containers for cellular waste, but our prior studies show they drive cell-communication both within tumor cells and in tumor microenvironment (TME). Remarkably, in mouse models PDAC-derived EVs seem critical for the development of liver metastatic niches. We have been able to extend this evidence, and we hypothesize a pivotal role for EVs in PDAC metastasis expansion and reseeding. This hypothesis has major clinical implications since pharmacological inhibition of metastatic progression can enhance the efficacy of current treatments, inhibiting disease progression, and improving survival and quality-of-life of PDAC patients.

Using in vitro, ex vivo and in vivo cancer models and next generation techniques (omics and cell-specific CRISPR-Cas9 knockout), you will face the novel exciting challenges to: 1) study in detail the pro-metastatic properties of EVs study, dissecting the communication between PDAC metastatic cells and components of the metastatic niche, 2) evaluate whether specific combinations of drugs can block the pro-metastatic actions of cancer EVs in preclinical mouse models, and 3) identify circulating biomarkers to monitor tumor progression in liver metastatic sites using cancer patient plasma, with a particular focus on circulating EV-associated factors and oncogenic kinases. To achieve these goals you will be embedded in and supported by multidisciplinary research teams who bring expertise in all relevant areas.

Question about this vacancy?
Brend de Jong Brend de Jong +31204448704 Recruitment Adviseur
The project

For further information on background, research and methodologies see the key publications:

  • Supadmanaba IGP, et al. Expert Opin Drug Metab Toxicol. 2021 May 21:1-10.
  • Baglio et al., Clin Cancer Res. 2017 Jul 15;23(14):3721-3733.
  • Giovannetti E, et al. Semin Cancer Biol. 2017 Jun;44:43-59.
About you

You are a highly motivated and ambitious candidate with a master degree with an interest in the tumor microenvironment dynamics. Prefer candidates who have a degree in molecular oncology, molecular biology or equivalent.

In addition you meet the following requirements:

  • Strong commitment, interest in working with new drugs, and desire to translate your results into the clinic are recommended;
  • You have affinity with modern molecular biology and next-generation techniques (CRISPR technology, next-generation sequencing, mass cytometry) and you are looking forward to associate them with animal studies;
  • You are able to function well in a team as well as independently, possess good communication skills and are comfortable with an international cross-disciplinary environment;
  • Fluency in spoken English and proficiency in writing are recommended. English proficiency test score is required.
Our offer

We offer an initial contract for 12 months that will be extended (after evaluation) for another 36 months.

  • The monthly wage will increase yearly to the maximum salary in the fourth year of 3,196 € gross per month.
  • Additional benefits include an 8.3% end-of-year bonus and 8.0% holiday pay.
  • The opportunity to follow further training and development.
  • Pension is accrued at the ABP. VUmc contributes a large part of the premium (70%).
  • In addition to excellent accessibility by public transport, we reimburse 75% of your OV travel costs (commuting costs).
  • For Dutch citizens it is mandatory to provide a VOG (Verklaring Omtrent Gedrag). Foreign citizens need to provide comparable police clearing certificates.
About your workplace

You will work in a collaborative project of three departments (Medical Oncology, Pathology and Surgery, PIs: Dr. E Giovannetti, Dr. R Baglio, Dr. M Pegtel and Prof. G. Kazemier), with strong international networks with Top European Institutions. Each of these departments has several PhD students, technicians and postdoctoral researchers who share their expertise and ideas in fruitful meetings.

Working at Amsterdam UMC means working in an inspiring and professional environment where developing one`s talents and academic skills are encouraged. We offer you ample opportunity for development, deepening and broadening, additional training, and a place to grow! The culture is open and collaboration generally low key. Moreover, we strive for equal opportunities for everyone. This means that there is room for everyone’s culture, origin, ideas and creativity.

What to expect
A job in our beautiful capital
Working for the most preferred employer in healthcare (intermediair 2021)
All colleagues have the same goal: contributing to tomorrow's care
We care not only for our patients, but also for you
Cooperation is characterised by mutual trust and interest in one another
We are constantly innovating, so you must be able to deal with change
Parking is limited at location VUmc, but by public transport you can get to the door
A full agenda, because our staff association organises many fun activities
Meet your colleagues Watch video’s of your future colleagues
Amsterdam UMC
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Let’s meet!

Do you have any questions? For more information, please contact Elisa Giovannetti, via telephone number: 020 444 8704.
For more information about the application procedure, you can contact Brend de Jong, corporate recruiter, via telephone number: 020-4448704.

The starting date for this position will be January 2022.

A reference check, screening and hiring test may be part of the procedure. Read hier whether this also applies to you. If you join us, we ask for a VOG (Certificate of Good Conduct).