Research Program F: Infection, Inflammation and Cancer

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Below you will find DKFZ divisions and research groups of the Research Program Infection, Inflammation and Cancer who are interested in recruiting Postdocs within the 2018 DKFZ Postdoctoral Fellowships Selection.

Please note that this is not an exhaustive list and new groups are continously added.

You may also contact the principal investigator of the DKFZ research group of your choice directly to discuss about current possibilities. More information about hiring labs can be found below and descriptions of DKFZ research programs via the general topic locator.

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Dynamics of early viral infection and the innate antiviral response – Dr. Marco Binder

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RESEARCH PROFILE

Infection mediated carcinogenesis can but does not always involve pathogen-encoded oncogenes (e.g. the human papilloma virus early genes E6/E7), but it always requires the establishment of a chronic/persistent infection. Even in the absence of classical oncogenes, long-term presence of viral components and antigens that lead to the development of an inflammatory environment within the host organ result in favorable conditions for the development of cancer.

Our research group is intrigued by the difference between acutely resolving versus persisting viral infections and strives to understand the primordial failure of the innate immune system to clear the virus in the latter case. Our models include, amongst others, Influenza A virus and Rift valley fever virus for acute infections, Hepatitis C virus as a chronic infection, or virus-free stimulation of the cellular antiviral system in order to omit uncontrolled interference of viral components with the antiviral response.

PROJECT TOPICS

With the help of a new, highly motivated and experienced postdoc, we are going to expand the group's scope towards exploring the direct effects of the host antiviral system onto tumor formation, but even more intriguingly, onto immunologic and therapeutic control of tumors. Several striking observations, published in recent years, clearly show a surprising dependence of tumor cell death on the presence of intact antiviral signaling (e.g. shown for the chemotherapeutic doxorubicin by Sistigu et al., Nature Medicine 2014). We have preliminary data and well-controlled model systems established in the lab, providing a comfortable starting ground for the new postdoc, who will, however, be expected to very actively participate in developing the project further.

Please visit our website for further information on our research and recent publications.

LINK: https://www.dkfz.de/en/virus-assoziierte-karzinogenese/groups/AGBinder

Episomal-Persistent DNA in Cancer- and Chronic Diseases – Dr. Timo Bund

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RESEARCH PROFILE

The division “Episomal-Persistent DNA in Cancer- and Chronic Diseases” analyzes human patient material for the presence of a novel group of putative pathogens termed Bovine Meat and Milk Factors (BMMFs) which are frequently isolated from bovine meat and milk. These plasmid-related episomal DNA agents are speculated to represent specific long-latency risk factors for the development of several major human diseases like breast and colon cancer as well as neurodegenerative diseases – several of those epidemiologically linked with bovine meat and milk consumption. We recently verified BMMF bioactivity in human cells along with specific modulation of disease-relevant host pathways. In addition, we established a spectrum of diagnostic screening tools allowing detection of putative pathogenic proteins as well as analysis of indicative serological and immunological response patterns.

PROJECT TOPICS

With strong focus on BMMF genome/transcriptome/proteome analysis, the aim of the new research project is the identification of additional disease markers but also specific immunologic analysis of human response upon infection with already known BMMFs. Human cell culture infection models as well as selected animal models are the tools for detailed analysis of BMMF contribution to cancer/disease development, which serves as a milestone for interventions like targeted therapy/vaccination.

In this multifaceted project the successful candidate exploits experimental techniques in the field of immunology, virology as well as molecular biology (e.g. DNA/RNA Sequencing, PAR-CLiP/RACE, mass spectrometry, serological/protein screening assays e.g. WB/NB/IF/IHC/ELISA/FACS). We offer a research project with access to excellent technical facilities and a place in a young, dynamic and creative international team with strong scientific collaborations.

Please visit our website for further information on our research and recent publications.

LINK: https://www.dkfz.de/en/episomal-persistierende-DNA/index.php 

Cellular Polarity and Viral Infection – Dr. Steeve Boulant

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RESEARCH PROFILE and PROJECT TOPICS

In my lab, we have been exploiting human intestinal organoids to characterize host/pathogen interactions at the intestinal mucosal barrier. Our work aims at characterizing the cellular mechanisms developed by our intestinal epithelium to combat enteric viruses (norovirus, astrovirus, reovirus) and at identifying the molecular strategies established by these pathogens to interfere with these mechanisms to promote their replication and induce pathogenesis. With the ambition of developing an organoid culture system that better mimics the physiological environment, we are implementing a novel mini-gut culture model that integrates the cellular, biophysical and biochemical parameters naturally encountered in the human gut. We have gathered multiple lines of evidence which demonstrate that the above parameters cannot be ignored when studying host/pathogen interactions as they strongly influence the response of the host during infection. Additionally, our preliminary findings also suggest that this gut-specific micro-environment is key to maintain immuno-homeostasis by promoting partial tolerance of the gut microbiota.

 

Please visit our website for further information on our research and recent publications.

LINK: https://www.boulantlab.com

Mammalian Cell Cycle Control Mechanisms – Prof. Dr. Ingrid Hoffmann

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RESEARCH PROFILE

Genomic instability is an emerging hallmark of cancer cells. It is a characteristic of almost all human cancers, but at what stage of cancer development
it arises and what its molecular basis is are questions to which we are only beginning to get answers.
When cells divide, it is essential that they segregate their newly duplicated chromosomes into two equal daughter cells. Centrosomes form the spindle poles of the mitotic spindle. Having the correct number of centrosomes at the poles of the mitotic spindle is crucial for proper chromosome segregation during cell division and for the prevention of genomic instability. Errors in centrosome duplication lead to cells with too many centrosomes which is frequently observed in cancer cells. The biochemical pathways underlying centrosome duplication and how this process is dysregulated in cancer are poorly understood.

 

PROJECT TOPICS

The goal of the project is to identify and characterize substrates and binding partners of the master regulator of centrosome duplication, which is the polo-like kinase Plk4. Using phosphoproteomics, biochemical techniques (Co-IP, Bio-ID) and yeast-two hybrid screens we will identify novel candidate substrates/regulators of Plk4.
The most interesting candidates identified will be characterized in further detail with the aim to better understand the mechanism underlying centrosome overduplication in cancer cells.

A variety of state-of-the-art cell biological and biochemical techniques (i.e confocal microscopy, life cell imaging, FRET/FRAP techniques, high-resolution microscopy (SIM) and far-western analysis) will be used.

 

Please visit our website for further information on our research and recent publications.

LINK: https://www.dkfz.de/en/f045/index.php

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