PhD Scholarships (2) in Deriving, optimizing, and engineering T Cells for Cell Therapy from Induced Pluripotent Stem Cells – DTU Health Tech

Updated: 4 months ago

2 PhD positions are available in the Section of Experimental and Translational Immunology (xTI), Department of Health Technology (DTU Health Tech), 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. 

The present projects will be conducted in the research group ‘T cells & Cancer’, under supervision of Professor Sine Reker Hadrup. We are world leaders in detection and modification of antigen specific T cells, and will in the current projects: 

  • Develop protocols for the differentiation of T cells from induced pluripotent stem cells, iPSC and the optimal gene insertion of target receptors (CAR and TCR) through retroviral transduction or CRISPR-CAS9 gene editing. We will explore promoter regions of relevance for sustained receptor expression and co-stimulatory domains of relevance for optimal T cell function. We will explore T cell stimulatory strategies to promote T cell function.
  • We will optimize the differentiation process of iPSCs to T cells through continuously on/off regulation of gene segments under control of miRNA expression during the differentiation process. We aim to generate a pool of allogenic, of-the-shelf T cells, that can be modified with receptors of interest. We will compare the therapeutic potential of such T cells to standard autologous T cell products, through preclinical models.
  • Both projects are part of a larger collaboration, specifically focusing on the development of iPSC derived cell products for clinical use, as cell therapy products for cancer treatment. Novel protocols and screening tools is expected to derive from these projects.

    Today, most cell products are derived from autologous T cell sources, which is a major bottleneck for expanding cell therapy as a sustainable treatment option. Hence, there is an urgent need to develop strategies for off-the-shelf T cell products that can be tailored to patients’ need. Initially this work will focus on the development of iPSC-derived T cell products with potential use for cancer treatment.

    Responsibilities and qualifications
    Key question to address:

    • Develop protocols for the differentiation of T cells from induced pluripotent stem cells, iPSC.
    • Identify promotor regions for sustainable target receptor expression during and after completed maturation.
    • Develop a dynamic and inducible gene-editing system.
    • Determine the therapeutic relevance of iPSC-derived T cells for cell therapy.

    Experimental methods & tasks:

    • Culturing and differentiation of iPSCs
    • Gene engineering, using retro viral transduction and CRISPR/CAS9 systems 
    • Apply multicolor flow cytometry analyses
    • T cell culturing and functional evaluations
    • Single-cell technologies
    • Selection of T cell target receptors
    • Evaluation of T cell profiles
    • Pre-clinical evaluation of tumor rejection capacity

    Be trained in:

    • T cell engineering technologies, CRISPR/CAS9 and retroviral transduction
    • Functional evaluation of CAR&TCR transduced T cells
    • Measure gene insertion and surface expression of CAR & TCR
    • Immunology: T cell recognition, antigen presentation & T cell function
    • MHC multimer generation – and T cell staining & analysis
    • Analyses of antigen-specific T cells
    • Multicolor flow cytometry
    • Preclinical cancer models to determine T cell therapy efficacy, in vitro and in vivo
    • Apply analytical and statistical tools to identify patterns in large datasets
    • Analyses and visualization of data using R

    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.

    You must have a two-year master's degree (120 ECTS points) or a similar degree with an academic level equivalent to a two-year master's degree.

    Applicable for all scholarships

    Approval and Enrolment
    The scholarships for the PhD degree are subject to academic approval, and the candidates will be enrolled in one of the general degree programmes at DTU. For information about our enrolment requirements and the general planning of the PhD study programme, please see DTU's rules for the PhD education .

    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 appointment terms 
    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 period of employment is 3 years.

    You can read more about career paths at DTU here .

    Further information 
    Further information may be obtained from Professor Sine Reker Hadrup, .

    You can read more about the DTU Health Tech at .

    If you are applying from abroad, you may find useful information on working in Denmark and at DTU at DTU – Moving to Denmark . Furthermore, you have the option of joining our monthly free seminar “PhD relocation to Denmark and startup “Zoom” seminar ” for all questions regarding the practical matters of moving to Denmark and working as a PhD at DTU.

    Application procedure 
    Your complete online application must be submitted no later than 13 June 2023 (Danish time). Applications must be submitted as one PDF file containing all materials to be given consideration. To apply, please open the link "Apply now", fill out the online application form, and attach all your materials in English in one PDF file. The file must include:

    • A letter motivating the application (cover letter - please indicate which position(s) you would like to apply for)
    • Curriculum vitae 
    • Grade transcripts and BSc/MSc diploma (in English) including official description of grading scale

    Incomplete applications will not be considered. You may apply prior to ob­tai­ning your master's degree but cannot begin before having received it. 

    Applications 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
    DTU Health Tech engages in research, education, and innovation based 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 210 persons, 140 PhD students and a technical/administrative support staff of about 160 persons, of which a large majority contributes to our research infrastructure and related commercial activities.

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    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 mission to develop and create value using science and engineering to benefit society. That mission lives on today. DTU has 13,500 students and 6,000 employees. We work in an international atmosphere and have an inclusive, evolving, and informal working environment. DTU has campuses in all parts of Denmark and in Greenland, and we collaborate with the best universities around the world.

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