Computational Biologist - Personalized Neoadjuvant Cancer Immunotherapies

Updated: 15 days ago
Deadline: 12 May 2021

The research group of Professor Christian Blank is looking for a motivated and talented Computational Biologist to join our team at the Netherlands Cancer Institute (NKI). 

Project description
Neoadjuvant Immunotherapies in stage III disease are currently the second wave in cancer immunotherapies, inducing even higher response rates and allowing response evaluation in the individual patient. Our group was the first showing that neoadjuvant immunotherapy is superior to adjuvant therapy in expanding tumor resident T cells (Blank et al., Nat Med 2018). We also identified a well-tolerated combination therapy benefitting almost 80% of stage III melanoma patients (Rozeman et al. Lancet Oncology 2019, Rozeman et al. Nat Med 2020). Currently we are testing whether we can omit surgery in these patients achieving major pathologic response upon the neoadjuvant immunotherapy.

The next step towards personalized immunotherapy, that we aim for, is identifying baseline signatures discriminating responders from non-responders. To do so, we analyse baseline tumor biopsies (DNAseq, RNAseq, spatial tissue protein profiling by NanoString DSP microscopy), serum cytokine levels, and the patients’ microbiome.

The goal of this project is to identify baseline signatures associated with response and adverse events. This will allow an improved patient selection, and allow gaining a deeper understanding of mechanisms of resistance to neoadjuvant immunotherapy, leading to alternative combination therapies in patients with unfavourable tumor signatures.

The computational biologist on this project will perform integrative analyses of datasets generated from our investigator-initiated trials, aiming at understanding requirements for response to current neoadjuvant immunotherapies and propose new combination therapies correcting the unfavourable tumor microenvironment in non-responders.

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