Evaluating the role of immune microenvironment on cancer progression using spatial and imaging approaches

Website King’s College London

Last date to apply- 8 September 2024

Project description:
Talented and motivated students, passionate about doing research and advancing cancer research, are invited to apply for this PhD position. The successful applicant will join the Sailem’s group at the School of Cancer and Pharmaceutical Sciences. We are passionate about transforming cancer patient treatment through a holistic understanding of biology. Check the group website for further details (www.hebasailem.com).

The tumour microenvironment (TME) is a critical determinant of tumour initiation, growth, and a potential predictor of patient response. The TME comprises diverse cell types including immune, stromal, and endothelial cells that interact with malignant cells and modulate their fate but the exact mechanisms involved are not fully understood. For instance, infiltration by CD8+ T lymphocytes correlates with a favourable prognosis, while tumour-associated macrophages can have both pro- and anti-tumour effects, likely depending on the context. Stromal cells affect cancer progression by depositing extracellular matrix (ECM) components that can hinder immune cell migration and infiltration or induce angiogenesis and endothelial cell proliferation to support tumour growth. In this project, you will establish in vitro models for screening and studying immune-tumour interactions.

The student will establish in vitro co-culture models of epithelial cancer cells and various immune cell types. Fluorescence microscope will be utilised to facilitate downstream functional assays. The student will test the effect of various drug perturbations in a small high-content screen.

To determine the relevance of in vitro assays to patients, the student will utilise multiplexed microscopy of tumour samples, obtained via our clinical collaborators. They will apply image analysis and deep learning pipelines to determine the interactions between different immune cell types and cancer cells.

The outcome of the project will be valuable insights into how the tumour microenvironment can contribute or suppress cancer progression. In addition, the data obtained has the potential to pave the way for the development in the future of new therapeutics for patient treatment in the future.

Required qualifications:
You have successfully completed a Master’s degree in a field relating to biology, biochemistry, or biophysics with first or upper-second class UK honours degree or equivalent non-UK qualification. The student should possess the following expertise:

· Cell and molecular biology techniques (cell culture and co-culture, transfection, and drug screening)

· Experience in fluorescence microscopy, and multiplexed imaging. Experience with spatial transcriptomics will also be considered.

· Fundamentals of cancer biology or immunology

· Programming (Python) for quantitative image and data analysis is desirable.

Candidates should be self-funded or have applied for, or obtained funding for their studies from their government, employer, or affiliated charitable organizations.
We welcome applications from candidates who are eligible for applying China Scholarship Council PhD.

To apply for this job email your details to heba.sailem@kcl.ac.uk

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