4 PhD fellowships (f/m/d) in ERC-funded research labs in Pediatric Hematology, Oncology and Bone Marrow Failure/Cancer Predisposition

Research group: Kaan Boztug Group, Eleni Tomazou Group, Davide Seruggia Group, Florian Grebien Group

Working hours: Full-time

Are you looking for a highly ambitious research project
that brings together translational and clinical research?
Here is your chance to contribute to science that makes a difference!

We are looking for four PhD students (m/f/d) to strengthen our research teams, which are focused on the development and use of innovative approaches for the treatment of pediatric oncological and immunological diseases. As a PhD student, you will have the unique opportunity to be part of a multidisciplinary competence center for pediatric oncology, to contribute to uncover the fundamental mechanisms of rare diseases such as childhood cancer or inborn errors of immunity, bone marrow failure syndromes and cancer predisposition, and to have a direct influence on the development of new cancer therapies. All 4 laboratories are supported by European Research Council Grants and have proven track records of excellence in science and mentorship of PhD students.

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The focus of the Boztug group (https://ccri.at/research-group/kaan-boztug-group/) is on the identification of rare monogenic disorders of the immune system and hematopoiesis, as well as inherited predisposition to cancer to explain pathophysiological manifestations in humans (e.g., Shahin et al., Sci Immunol 2021; Kalinichenko et al., Blood 2021; Wang L et al., Nat Genet 2021). The Boztug group applies a combination of state-of-the-art genetic and genomic technologies and a wide range of immunological, biochemical, -omics and imaging techniques as well as patient-derived material and cellular and in vivo model systems (mouse and zebrafish). In this group we are offering two potential PhD projects: 1) Monogenic immune dysregulation – identification and molecular dissection of novel monogenic defects causing autoimmunity/autoinflammation and their association with cancer predisposition (e.g. IBD, SLE, partial T-cell deficiencies) and 2) molecular etiology of inherited bone marrow failure syndromes to understand the molecular basis of hematopoiesis and immunity, and the molecular origins of bone marrow failure and leukemia evolution.

The Tomazou group (https://www.tomazoulab.org/) studies how fusion oncoproteins rewire healthy cells for malignancy, with the goal to leverage this knowledge to advance precision medicine for pediatric sarcomas (Sheffield et al., Nat Med 2017; Grünewald et al., Nat Rev Dis Primers 2018; Peneder et al., Nat Commun 2021). The Tomazou group takes an engineering-inspired “build it to understand it” approach to studying fusion-driven pediatric sarcomas, utilizing human pluripotent stem cells, CRISPR technology, single-cell analysis, and computational biology. The primary objective is to construct accurate models of pediatric sarcomas. In this group we are offering two potential PhD projects: 1) interplay of fusion oncogene-expressing cells with neighbouring cells in their microenvironment that promotes sarcoma formation and 2) investigate anatomic position as a major determinant of why only selective cells respond to fusion oncogenes leading to sarcoma formation.

The  Seruggia group (https://seruggialab.com/) focuses on chromatin biology and epigenetics in the context of pediatric leukemia. The group expertise includes the molecular dissection of protein complexes relevant for gene regulation (Seruggia et al. Mol Cell 2019; Sher, Hossain Seruggia et al., Nat Genet. 2019; Mehta et al. Cell Chem Bio 2022), as well as profiling and perturbation of non-coding regulatory sequences (Singh et al. Genes Dev 2022; Seruggia et al. Sci Rep 2020). The Seruggia group applies focused CRISPR screens, epigenetic profiling and proteomics in models of hematopoiesis and leukemia. Available projects include: 1) the 3D-genome of pediatric leukemia; 2) vulnerabilities in transcriptional co-activators in leukemia and 3) in vivo CRISPR screening for leukemia predisposition factors.

The Grebien group (https://grebienlab.com/) investigates the molecular mechanisms of how fusion oncoproteins cause the development of pediatric leukemias. By combining novel cell line and animal models of leukemia with proteomic-, epigenomic- and transcriptomic approaches, we perform a detailed functional characterization of leukemia oncoproteins (Skucha et al, Nat Commun 2018, Schmöllerl et al, Blood 2020). Genome-wide CRISPR/Cas9 screening is used to provide functional genomic context to biochemical and molecular biological observations (Schmöllerl et al, Blood 2023). High-resolution imaging of their subcellular localization provides cellular context to leukemia oncoprotein activity (Terlecki-Zaniewicz et al, Nat Struct Mol Biol 2021). Available projects include: 1) The identification of cellular factors that improve antibody-mediated therapy 2) developing approaches to target transcription factor dependencies in pediatric leukemia.

Your responsibilities

  • You will work on an ambitious research project in an exciting, multi-disciplinary research area.
  • You will provide thorough and creative thinking that makes this project a success.
  • You will write manuscripts, present at scientific conferences and apply for fellowships.

Your profile

What you bring for a position as PhD Student:

  • Master’s degree in a relevant subject (e.g molecular biology, cancer, immunology)
  • Excellent technical skills (e.g cell culture, CRISPR/single cell technologies, human pluripotent stem cells)
  • Motivation to pursue an ambitious research agenda
  • Self-motivated, enthusiastic and eager to learn
  • Good team player, commitment and creativity
  • Scientific mindset and problem-solving attitude
  • Excellent verbal and written communication skills in English (German not required)

Our offer

Does this sound interesting? This is our offer to you:

  • A meaningful, inspiring, and international environment
  • An outstanding working atmosphere in strong teams with excellent research and development opportunities.(find more information on Kununu and Glassdoor)
  • A multi-disciplinary environment with lots of support for your personal and professional development from your supervisor, team, and peers
  • Focus on medically relevant problems, with a strong translational aspect and close collaboration with physicians and the clinical trial unit
  • Access to state-of-the-art infrastructure
  • Flexible working hours, discounted lunch and other great benefits
  • Great location in the center of Vienna, a capital of biomedical research in Europe with excellent quality of life
  • A fair and attractive salary package according to the Austrian Science Fund FWF (https://www.fwf.ac.at/en/research-funding/personnel-costs/)

Who we are

The St. Anna Children’s Cancer Research Institute (St. Anna CCRI) is located in the heart of Vienna, the most livable city in the world and one of the most important sites for biomedical research in Europe. St. Anna CCRI is a multidisciplinary and internationally networked center of excellence whose goal is to contribute to a sustainable improvement in the cure rates of childhood and adolescent cancers through innovative research and development. Due to the close cooperation between clinic and research, St. Anna Children’s Cancer Research offers the ideal environment for cutting-edge research at a high international level and its implementation in clinical practice. To achieve our ultimate goal of advancing the well-being of patients, St. Anna CCRI constantly pushes scientific boundaries and strongly promotes close collaboration and exchange with external institutions like the Medical University of Vienna, CeMM Research Center for Molecular Medicine of the Austrian Academy of Sciences, the Institute of Molecular Biotechnology of the Austrian Academy of Sciences (IMBA) and the Institute of Molecular Pathology (IMP).

St. Anna CCRI is an equal opportunity employer. We value diversity and are committed to providing a work environment of mutual respect to everyone without regard to race, colour, religion, national origin, age, gender identity or expression, disability, or any other characteristic protected by applicable laws, regulations and ordinances.

Find more information here: https://ccri.at/

Your application

We are looking forward to your application! Applications should contain your Curriculum Vitae, a cover letter, list of publications (please mark / explain your contributions), and the contact details of two academic references.

The application deadline is 30th June 2023. Applications will be reviewed on a rolling basis until the position is filled.

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