Postdoctoral fellowships in biology of cancer metastasis – Padua, Italy

Posted 2 years ago

Why do many cancer patients develop delayed metastases?

How do metastatic cells survive in a foreign environment?

Can we identify disseminated cancer cells before metastatic outgrowth?

If you are interested in answering these questions, Montagner lab is a great place to tackle this challenge. Our mission is to identify innovative actionable targets to kill disseminated metastatic cells before the onset of metastasis.

Metastases are the major cause of death for patients with solid cancers and yet, effective therapies targeting or preventing metastases are missing. Several types of cancers, like breast cancer, show delayed relapses, with metastases occurring years after removal of primary tumor. This offers a therapeutic window so far underexploited. Dr. Marco Montagner’s laboratory works on the challenging goal of finding a way to identify and kill disseminated metastatic cells before they relapse. Dr. Montagner contributed to understanding cell autonomous mechanisms of breast cancer dissemination (Montagner et al., Nature 2012; Adorno et al., Cell 2009). More recently, Dr. Montagner discovered how disseminated dormant breast cancer cells shape the lung microenvironment to sustain their long-term survival (Montagner et al., Nature Cell Biology 2020; Zangrossi et al., Cancers 2021; Zangrossi et al., Cancers 2021).

Projects and lab environment

Montagner Lab has two immediate openings for postdoctoral associates. The current aims of the lab are: 1) application of genetic methods to identify disseminated cells, 2) understanding how mechanical signals, metabolic rewiring and tumor-stroma crosstalk contribute to survival of dormant disseminated cells. In our lab we apply bulk (qPCR, western blotting, cytofluorimetry) and single cell analyses (scRNAseq, immunofluorescence, multispectral imaging, mass cytometry) which encompass a breadth of disciplines (molecular biology, biochemistry, mechanobiology, bioinformatics, optogenetics) spanning diverse areas (cell biology, genomics, and metabolomics, pre-clinical translation, liquid biopsies). We have strong expertise in, but not limited to, techniques to study tumor-stroma crosstalk and cell mechanics, however we always aim at applying/developing the best method to tackle our hypotheses beyond the current techniques used in the lab. Having a cancer hospital on-site provides unique opportunities for translational research.

You and your role

You have a MSc and PhD degree in medicine, biology, biotechnology, pharmaceutical sciences, or equivalents. You have hands-on training in basic molecular and cellular biology methods which should include protein analyses, DNA manipulation and imaging. Experience with liquid biopsies, mouse handling and in vivo experiments including xenografting are a plus. You have a strong interest and commitment in cancer biology. You are expected to play a vital role in the development of the laboratory by designing projects, writing studies, and working with wet and dry lab staff to accomplish our ambitious and collaborative scientific objectives. International working experience is appreciated.

Since the lab is still relatively new, you will have an opportunity to work closely with the PI in crafting several new projects. You will isolate disseminated cells from multiple sources and animal models, generate single cell expression profiles, characterize the microenvironment, and develop organotypic systems in vitro. You will design experiments for orthogonal validation or functional studies (patient-derived cell lines, high content screens, animal models) using technologies available through our group and our collaborators. You will be encouraged and supported to apply for training grants.


The Postdoctoral positions are opened immediately and will be filled as soon as suitable candidates are found. The positions are two and three years, with a one-year starting contract and extensions already covered by available grants (Italian Association for Cancer Research and STARS Consolidator Grant). The salary is equivalent to that of an Italian entry-level Assistant Professor (gross annual salary 24-31000 Euros, according to the experience), and adequate to comfortably support a foreign worker in Italy. Fellows will be encouraged to apply for competitive National and International Fellowships (e.g. Marie Curie, EMBO), as well as to young investigators grants towards scientific independence (e.g. University of Padua STARS Grant).


We are a growing laboratory, and we are seeking for highly motivated individuals to push forward the next step in our research. We have several projects ongoing with the possibility of immediate contribution. We have an extensive network of National and International collaborations providing us with state-of-the art experimental techniques and approaches. The University of Padua is one of the top biomedical research campuses in Italy and among the top-250 universities worldwide according to QS Ranking ( Our Research Institute hosts more than 100 laboratories, including several PIs with international recognition and many international Postdoctoral Fellows, and is the home to three PhD Schools in the Life Sciences (Biology, Molecular Medicine and Biomedical Sciences).

Situated in the Veneto Region, in the heart of north-eastern Italy, and less than 40 km from Venice, Padua is one of the most beautiful cities in Italy, with over 3,000 years of history ( It is easy to find accommodations within walking or biking distance from our Research Institute. Padua is a pleasant mid-sized student town with a lively life, music and cultural festivals, traditional and stylish shops and markets. Padua is immersed in a territory rich in biodiversity and breathtaking landscapes, such as the Dolomites and the Venetian lagoon, within 2-3 hours from main Italian tourist cities by train (30min from Venice, 1hr from Bologna and Verona, 2hr from Firenze and Milan, 3.5hr from Rome).

Application process

For more information, please write an email to Dr. Marco Montagner ( and we will organize an interview.

Your application should contain (i) a complete CV with birth date, Nationality, University and PhD degrees and including a brief summary of past research achievements and publications, a motivation letter, and contact information for at least 2 (better 3) previous supervisors for reference.

The University of Padua is committed in developing an Academic environment where all talents can flourish regardless of gender, cultural background, nationality or impairments. See for more information on how the University of Padua implements the principles established by the European Charter for Researchers and the Code of Conduct for the Recruitment of Researchers. Montagner Lab is committed to nondiscrimination with respect to ethnicity, creed, religion, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity and expression, marital status, national origin, or affiliations.

Job Features

Job CategoryInternship and training, Postdoctoral

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