Postdoc in Molecular Mimicry between Viral and Cancer Epitopes

Friday 11 Sep 20

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A postdoc position is available in the Section of Experimental and Translational Immunology (xTI), Division of Biopharma, Dept. of Health Technology, at the Technical University of Denmark (DTU).

In the Section of Experimental and Translational Immunology, we are focusing on understanding immune regulation, recognitions and signaling to unravel disease mechanism, and translate immunological finding into therapeutic strategies via design of nanomaterial to actively engage or manipulate the immune system. We are also working on biosensors to effective readout hazardous substances.

The present project will be conducted in the research group ‘T cells & Cancer’, under supervision of Professor Sine Reker Hadrup. Immunotherapy has revolutionized cancer treatment, but clinical benefit remains only for a subset of patients. We are devoted to develop strategies for cancer-specific T cell targeting to improve the efficacy and limit toxicity for T cell therapies.

To provide better identification of T cell targets – such as mutation-derived neoepitopes, we will in this project investigate the T cell cross reactivity and molecular mimicry between neoepitopes and viral epitopes.

Responsibilities and tasks
On the basis of data acquired in the research group over the last years related to T cell detection of neoepitopes the candidate should computationally evaluate a potential molecular mimicry between neoepitopes and common viral epitopes. The outcome will in parallel be validated experimentally.

Key question to address:

  • Characterize the structural overlap (molecular mimicry) between viral epitopes and those neoepitopes that are recognized in healthy donors
  • Determine if T cell responses to neoepitopes with structural similarities to viral epitopes are enhanced in cancer patients compared to neoepitopes lacking such shared structural features

Models & taks:

  • The structural models will be generated using homology modeling techniques such as MODELLER
  • Generate structural models of pMHCs to improve our understanding of how different epitopes are seen by T cell
  • Evaluate for a potential structural overlap between neoepitopes that are recognized by T cells in cancer patients, and viral epitopes.

Qualifications
Candidates should have a PhD degree or equivalent.

Be trained in:

  • Bioinformatics
  • Structural models: Modeling and visualizing protein structures using MODELLER, Rosetta, FoldX and PyMOL
  • Immunology: T cell recognition, antigen presentation & T cell receptor models
  • Programming in Python, R and Unix
  • Develop analytical and statistical tools to identify patterns in large datasets
  • Develop user-friendly interfaces to allow non-bioinformatic experts to apply online programs
  • Advanced visualization of data using R and ggplot
  • Develop machine learning algorithms for predictions in biological datasets

The candidate should demonstrate evidence of self-driven and independent research capability, excellent collaboration and communication skills, an interest in working in an interdisciplinary research environment, and a strong motivation to succeed within a competitive research field.

We offer
DTU is a leading technical university globally recognized for the excellence of its research, education, innovation and scientific advice. We offer a rewarding and challenging job in an international environment. We strive for academic excellence in an environment characterized by collegial respect and academic freedom tempered by responsibility. 

Salary and terms of employment
The appointment will be based on the collective agreement with the Danish Confederation of Professional Associations. The allowance will be agreed upon with the relevant union. The position is available for 2 years, supported by the ‘Independent Research fund Denmark’. Employment will start as soon as possible. 

You can read more about career paths at DTU here

Further information
Further information may be obtained from Professor Sine Reker Hadrup, sirha@dtu.dk

You can read more about the Department of Health Technology at www.healthtech.dtu.dk/english

Application procedure
Please submit your online application no later than 24 September 2020 (local time)Applications must be submitted as one PDF file containing all materials to be given consideration. To apply, please open the link "Apply online", fill out the online application form, and attach all your materials in English in one PDF file. The file must include:

  • Application (cover letter)
  • CV
  • Diploma (MSc/PhD)
  • List of publications

Applications and enclosures received after the deadline will not be considered.

All interested candidates irrespective of age, gender, disability, race, religion or ethnic background are encouraged to apply. 

DTU Health Tech engages in research, education, and innovation base on technical and natural science for the healthcare sector. The Healthcare sector is a globally expanding market with demands for the most advanced technological solutions. DTU Health Tech creates the foundation for companies to develop new and innovative services and products which benefit people and create value for society. DTU Health Techs expertise spans from imaging and biosensor techniques, across digital health and biological modelling, to biopharma technologies. The department has a scientific staff of about 175 persons, 130 PhD students and a technical/administrative support staff of about 80 persons.

Technology for people
DTU develops technology for people. With our international elite research and study programmes, we are helping to create a better world and to solve the global challenges formulated in the UN’s 17 Sustainable Development Goals. Hans Christian Ørsted founded DTU in 1829 with a clear vision to develop and create value using science and engineering to benefit society. That vision lives on today. DTU has 12,000 students and 6,000 employees. We work in an international atmosphere and have an inclusive, evolving, and informal working environment. Our main campus is in Kgs. Lyngby north of Copenhagen and we have campuses in Roskilde and Ballerup and in Sisimiut in Greenland.