Engineering post-doctoral position to advance single-organoid analysis

Updated: 8 months ago
Job Type: Permanent
Deadline: The position may have been removed or expired!

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100%, Zurich, fixed-term

This project is part of an interdisciplinary collaboration between the groups of Prof. Klaus Eyer (functional single cell readouts, ETH Zurich), Prof. Helmuth Gehart (tumor and stem cell biology, ETH Zurich), and Prof. Kruithof-de Julio (urological research laboratory, Inselspital/UBERN). The advertised position will be evenly shared between the laboratories of Prof. Eyer and Prof. Gehart and exist at the interface of engineering and tumor biology.

The Laboratory for Functional Immune Repertoire Analysis (Prof. Klaus Eyer, Institute of Pharmaceutical Sciences, ETH Zurich) focuses on developing and applying technologies and analytical strategies that allow us to measure, describe and exploit the functionality of individual cells and systems. Our research currently centers around various fundamental and applied scientific questions for vaccine-mediated protection and personalized medicine. We combine chemical, physical, engineering, and biological aspects in our interdisciplinary approach to achieve our aims.

Prof. Dr. Helmuth Gehart (Institute of Molecular Health Sciences, ETH Zurich) is an expert in organoid technology, stem cell biology, and single-cell techniques. He co-developed several new organoid systems (e.g., human liver organoids), integrated single-cell readouts in vitro and in vivo, and currently pioneers nanoliter-droplet organoid cultures. The Gehart research group combines in vivo and in vitro techniques to study the mechanisms of stem cell control and cancer biology to reinvigorate exhausted tissue regeneration and stop the progression of malignant disease.

Our laboratories are located on the Hönggerberg Campus in Zürich (Switzerland).

Project background

Tumoroids serve as excellent in vitro avatars for individual patients due to their ability to reflect the inherent heterogeneity in the tumor of origin. This makes the system particularly suitable for personalized medicine, patient stratification, and evaluating the efficacy of therapeutic approaches. As a result, multiple studies have shown that in vitro drug responses of tumoroids are predictive for the success or failure of a particular treatment strategy in a patient. Despite these impressive results, all organoid assays suffer from the same limitation: The biopsy takes 2-3 months to identify tumor-specific vulnerabilities. Although this is acceptable (though still not ideal) for genetic diseases with slow progression, waiting times of several months are incompatible with the swift therapeutic decisions that have to be taken for cancer treatment. In this project, we want to dramatically decrease this time and accelerate the detection of vulnerabilities and personalize therapies.

Job description

We offer a funded Postdoctoral position as part of the ETH strategic focus area Personalized Health and Related Technologies. The project aims to adapt and combine the work performed in our two laboratories into an automated and integrated prototype that overcomes the current limitations in organoid screenings. This project aims to study specific vulnerabilities and the survival of individual patient-derived organoids and xenografts, intending to apply these novel methods in clinical practice in the future. To achieve the goals and facilitate clinical translation, we have set up an interdisciplinary research program together with Prof Dr. Marianna Kruithof-de Julio (Dept. of Urology, University Hospital, Bern and Dept. for BioMedical Research, University of Bern, Head of the Urology Research Laboratory and leading expert in prostate cancer stem-cell biology).

Your profile

The interdisciplinary aspect is central in our group and within this collaboration. You should have a strong disposition to learn and improve novel methods and be open to different research disciplines.
Expertise in: 

  • programming
  • microfluidics
  • mechanical engineering
  • or prototype generation is required
  • and prior experience with optical methods and standard methods of molecular biology are helpful

We are looking for an ambitious team player that can successfully navigate within this collaboration.

We offer

We offer you an intellectually challenging position in the inspiring atmosphere of an interdisciplinary team and in our collaborations, and the prospect to develop and translate a prototype into clinical practice. Advanced training in different related fields and participation at international conferences is highly encouraged.
You must communicate in English (oral and written) fluently and be willing to work in a highly interactive, interdisciplinary, diverse, and international team. A professional work attitude and a proactive and self-driven work ethic are expected.

ETH Zurich

ETH Zurich is one of the world’s leading universities specialising in science and technology. We are renowned for our excellent education, cutting-edge fundamental research and direct transfer of new knowledge into society. Over 30,000 people from more than 120 countries find our university to be a place that promotes independent thinking and an environment that inspires excellence. Located in the heart of Europe, yet forging connections all over the world, we work together to develop solutions for the global challenges of today and tomorrow.

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