Development of immunomodulatory Dual Signalling Proteins (DSPs) for cancer immunotherapy

Keywords: innate immunity, checkpoint targeting, TNFR superfamily, tumor-selective, immunotherapy

1st Hosting institution: Location: KM, Jerusalem, Israel; Duration: 18 months

2nd Hosting institution: Location: UMCG, Groningen, Netherlands; Duration: 18 months


Intended start date: May 2019

Job Description: PhD-student position (3 years): This PhD student position offers an exciting and innovative research project that aims to develop to develop a new class of immunotherapeutics, termed Dual Signalling Proteins (DSPs), and will end with a PhD thesis. Each DSP is designed to block a candidate checkpoint molecule in the cancer micro-environment, such as CD47, while also activating costimulatory TNF superfamily receptors on immune cells in the tumour micro-environment. These new DSPs have multiple functionalities and have the potential to become the next-generation of cancer immunotherapy. This approach will be tested in model systems in vitro and in vivo for tumor-selective and functional immunomodulatory activity.

The PhD candidate will be working as part of an international consortium on their search for an immunotherapeutic approach to cancer treatment and will start their 3 year research project at Kahr Medical (KM) in Jerusalem/ Israel. KM is a leading drug-discovery company focused on the TNFR superfamily, with a unique portfolio. The candidate will design and develop several new DSPs and define mode of action. After 18 months, the candidate will continue at the University Medical Center Groningen (UMCG) / Netherlands, one of the leading academic centers of the Netherlands, for another 18 months. At the UMCG, the new DSP will be validated for immunotherapeutic activity in primary patient-derived culture systems as well in mouse models. With this project, the candidate will acquire experience in both industrial and academic research. This research project will end with a PhD thesis defense at the University of Groningen.

This project is part of a collaborative training network of 10 closely related projects in which PhD students will benefit from networking opportunities. This includes a multidisciplinary training programme with network-wide training events that will be provided to the candidates. Herewith, the PhD project will provide the candidate a unique opportunity to obtain knowledge/expertise on important facets of both academia and industry.

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