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PhD student - Epigenetic control of immunity

Your function within the department

The research groups of Fred van Leeuwen (Division of Gene Regulation) and Heinz Jacobs (Division of Tumor Biology & Immunology) are looking for a PhD student to join their teams at the Netherlands Cancer Institute (NKI).

Cytotoxic T cells have the potential to differentiate into effector and long-lived memory T cells and thereby control infectious diseases and cancer. However, cancer cells can escape the immune system by activating immune checkpoints. Immunotherapy aimed at inhibiting these immune checkpoints can reactivate cytotoxic T cells but achieving sustained results can remain a challenge. Hence, additional modalities for optimal cytotoxic T cell activation are needed and recent studies suggest that promoting epigenetic reprogramming may be one possibility.
In this project, the research teams of Jacobs and Van Leeuwen join their expertise in T-cell differentiation and epigenetics. The project focuses on the role of the histone methyltransferase DOT1L in differentiation and activation of cytotoxic T cells. Our recent work in genetically engineered mouse models indicates that DOT1L forms an epigenetic barrier towards cytotoxic T cell differentiation. The goals of the research project are to unravel the mechanisms involved and to understand how the function of cytotoxic T cells can be modulated by targeting the activity of DOT1L with the ultimate aim to improve tumor immunology.

Your profile

You are an ambitious and creative researcher with a strong background in molecular and cellular biology.
General background knowledge in immunology and epigenetics is essential. Experience with bioinformatics and/or animal experiments is a plus. We expect the candidate to be team-player with strong communication skills.

Your career opportunities and terms of employment

You will join two dynamic international research groups and collaborate with scientists with expertise in different disciplines. You will have the opportunity to follow high-quality courses offered by the OOA oncology graduate school of Amsterdam throughout your PhD track.
Your temporary employment will be for a period of at least four years. The gross salary per month will be from € 2.665,- to € 3.282,- according to the standard PhD scales. The terms of employment will be in accordance with the CAO Ziekenhuizen (Collective Labour Agreement for Hospitals).
Amsterdam is a very livable city with many cultural amenities. The institute is located within a 20 minute tram or bicycle ride from the center of Amsterdam and within 20 minutes from Schiphol airport by car, bus or bicycle.
For further information please visit our home pages.
Fred van Leeuwen   
Web site:
Heinz Jacobs
Web site:

Applications can be submitted through the link below, and should include your CV, a motivation letter, and the contact information of your references.