PhD Position - Neuron-Brain Tumor Interaction

© Dr. Varun Venkataramani

Job description:

Our group is interested in clinically relevant, but also basic questions in brain tumor research. The focus lies on incurable gliomas, including glioblastoma, and brain metastasis. To optimally study brain tumor initiation and progression, we have refined animal models using in vivo two- photon microscopy in our DKFZ lab to study brain cancer cell populations and their dynamic behavior over many months. We discovered that ultra-long and ultra-thin neurite-like membrane extensions of glioma cells, so-called tumor microtubes (TM) are highly relevant for tumor progression and resistance to therapies (Osswald et al., Nature 2015). The resulting multicellular tumor network allows intensive intercellular communication, and better cellular homeostasis, which results in resistance to radiotherapy and chemotherapy.

Recently, we found that glioma cells and TM-connected glioma cell networks form bona-fide excitatory synapses with neurons, with the glioma cell as the postsynaptic partner. These neuron-glioma synapses stimulate glioma growth and invasion (collaboration with the lab of Th. Kuner, Neuroanatomy Heidelberg: Venkataramani et al., Nature 2019; published back-to-back with Venkatesh et al., Nature 2019). They can be found throughout all animal models of incurable gliomas so far, and also in resected patient tissue, present a novel target for anti-tumor therapies.


• Master's degree in biology, biotechnology, bioinformatics or similar
• 'hands on' experience with basic laboratory techniques (cell culture, WB, qRT-PCR, IHC, light
• Ideally experience with in vivo experimental models and FELASA B course
• Experience in working with animals or a will to work with animals
• High motivation and organisational talent
• Good team player with good communication skills
• Good knowledge of the English language
• Good knowledge or first experience in programming (e.g. R, Python) is welcomed

We offer:

• Interesting, versatile workplace
• International, attractive working environment
• Campus with modern state-of-the-art infrastructure
• Access to international research networks
• Doctoral student payment including social benefits
• Flexible working hours
• Comprehensive training and mentoring program through the Helmholtz International Graduate School

Earliest Possible Starting Date: 01.06.2021

Duration: The position is limited to 3 years.

Contact: Prof. Dr. Frank Winkler (

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