Multi-omics Study of the Effects of Hormone Treatments on Localized Prostate Cancer – Leuven, Belgium

Posted 2 years ago

(ref. BAP-2022-101)

Background and aims The new Leuven Translational Prostate Cancer Research Group is comprised of the MolecularEndocrinology Laboratory (Prof. Claessens:, the Dept of Urology, UniversityHospitals Leuven (Prof. Joniau:, the Laboratory of Cell Stress and Immunity (Prof. Garg: and our international collaborators. As prostate cancer is the most common cancer in developed countries, it has a huge effect on society. Approximately half of patients with high-risk prostate cancer develop metastases, and once at this stage the disease becomes incurable. Curing high-risk prostate cancer patients therefore requires a timely and adequate treatment before metastases occur. This is a real race against time: treatment should be administered before patients metastasize and the right treatment choice should be decided as soon as possible after diagnosis. Prostate cancer is driven by male hormones. Currently, hormone treatment is mostly used in later stages of the disease, but our lab is investigating its use before metastases develop. If effective, this type of early treatment could become a game changer that would reduce the number of incurable prostate cancers. However, it is of utmost importance that such hormone treatment is applied appropriately: as early as possible and only in those patients who benefit from it, in order to avoid overtreatment and unnecessary suffering.

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During this PhD you will perform big data projects aimed at the multiome analysis of protein, RNA (both bulk, single nuclei and spatial transcriptomics) and DNA (CNA, Whole Genome/Exome Seq and chromatin) on samples from prostate cancer patients who were included in clinical trials covering different settings of their disease. This is therefore mainly a bioinformatics project, hence the integration in the group of Prof. Garg.

As a member of our interdisciplinary team, you share the ambition to truly impact clinical care through comprehensive molecular profiling of the effects of different treatments in these prostate cancer samples. This will lead to a deep understanding of the tumor response to hormone treatments. Your ultimate goal will be to identify predictive markers that can distinguish those patients who will benefit from additional treatments from those who can safely be withheld from treatment. This PhD will therefore be a game changer for the future management of prostate cancer and your findings will be translated into next-generation clinical trials.


We are looking for a PhD candidate with exceptional promise in interdisciplinary research and theoretical knowledge in the analysis of biological processes.

  • The candidate has a master’s degree in mathematics, (bio)engineering , (bio)medical sciences, bioinformatics or related computational disciplines.
  • Experience with R studio and/or Python is a must, experience with omics big data analysis is a huge advantage.
  • You can work in a group, with a good degree of independence, as you learn to set up complex experiments and design new methodologies.
  • You are detail-oriented, proactive and continuously working to improve yourself. You take responsibility for your analyses and put your scientific integrity above all else.
  • You will become a member of a multidisciplinary team. The work includes frequent interactions with international researchers and industry.
  • Therefore, you must have excellent communication skills, be a team player and have multitasking skills.
  • You master the English language both orally and in writing and are willing to travel.


We offer a full-time one-year PhD position, with funding available for extensions of up to four years. The starting date will be negotiated with the selected candidate.

You will work in the Laboratory of Cell Stress and Immunity and the Molecular Endocrinology Laboratory.

All state-of-the-art equipment and sufficient financial resources are available. The laboratory is part of the Leuven Translational Prostate Cancer Research Group, a dynamic multidisciplinary team of clinicians and translational researchers.

We provide excellent career development opportunities through international and national interactions with translational and clinical laboratories and the pharmaceutical industry.

If desired, we also offer limited teaching experience.


For more information please contact Prof. dr. Frank Claessens, tel.: +32 16 33 02 53, mail: or Dr. Wout Devlies, tel.: +3216345491, mail:

You can apply for this job no later than March 15, 2022 via the online application tool

KU Leuven seeks to foster an environment where all talents can flourish, regardless of gender, age, cultural background, nationality or impairments. If you have any questions relating to accessibility or support, please contact us at

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