PhD Student in Tumor Immune Evasion

Luxembourg Institute of Health (LIH) is the leading public research center in Luxembourg for basic, pre-clinical and clinical research in biomedicine and public health. Our clinically-oriented biomedical research activities in Oncology, Infection & Immunity and Population Health encompass the generation of knowledge on the pathogenesis, diagnosis and treatment of diseases with large impacts on public health and the epidemiological surveillance of these diseases. With the mission to deliver scientific, economic and societal value for Luxembourg, LIH aims to translate knowledge into clinical applications impacting on healthcare systems while shaping personalized medicine

Activities and responsibilities

Background Information
Recently, we demonstrated in vitro that a subpopulation of cancer cells responds to cytotoxic lymphocyte attack with a quick and massive accumulation of actin in the region of the immunological synapse, a process we called the "actin response". Inhibition of the actin response was sufficient to convert resistant cancer cells into a highly susceptible phenotype. From a mechanistic standpoint, we found that the actin response protects target cells from apoptosis by decreasing intracellular levels of a key cytotoxic protease, namely granzyme B, secreted by cytotoxic lymphocytes. Our pioneering study on the role of actin cytoskeleton in tumor immune evasion has been published in Cancer Research (Al Absi et al., 2018 Cancer Research, 78: 5631-5643). See also Wurzer et al., 2019 Cells. 8: 463 and Wurzer et al., 2019 Oncotarget, 10: 2419-2420.

The Project
The project aims at characterizing the mechanism by which the actin response prevents granzyme B accumulation in target tumor cells and subsequent cell lysis, and at validating the link between the actin response and a fundamental cellular process we identified in preliminary analyses. The project is largely based on cell imaging (confocal microscopy and imaging flow cytometry) and involves both in vitro cell culture (lymphocytes, cancer cells) and in vivo mouse models. The goal is to provide a solid ground for translating our pioneering data on actin-driven immune evasion into innovative clinical applications aimed at restoring an effective anti-tumor response and/or to improving the efficacy of current immunotherapies.

Qualification profile

Ideally the candidate will have:
  • A Master degree in the area of Immuno-oncology.
  • Fluency in English is mandatory.
  • Hands-on experience in experimental lab work using immune and/or cancer cell models.
  • Experience in (imaging) flow cytometry and/or cell imaging approaches.
  • Experience in animal experimentation.
  • Excellent planning and communication skills.

We offer

2-year fixed-term contract (renewable for 2 years), full time, start date October-December 2019

Send application to

Applications including a cover letter, CV and the name of 2 referees should be sent before 30 September through our websiste with the reference: VD/PhD0619/CT/LECR, to the attention of Dr. Clément Thomas.

While applying for the job please refer to jobvector and use the following reference number: Ref: VD/PhD0719/CT/LECR

About Luxembourg Institute of Health

The Luxembourg Institute of Health is a public medical research centre. Striving for excellence, the researchers of the Luxembourg Institute of Health, by their creativity, enthusiasm and commitment, generate knowledge on disease mechanisms and contribute to the development of new diagnostics, innovative therapies and clinical applications that impact the health of Luxembourgish and...
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