PhD student position - Engineering of a novel molecular ON/OFF-switch system to control CAR T cell function


PhD student position - Engineering of a novel molecular ON/OFF-switch system to control CAR T cell function

A PhD student position is available at the CCRI in a newly funded laboratory for the development of next generation CAR T cells to be launched in November 2019.


The project:

One of the biggest needs in the field of CAR T cell therapy is to reduce toxic side effects in order to enable the clinical implementation of strategies that can raise the efficacy of CAR therapy to levels required for successful application in solid tumors. We thus want to create molecular tools for improving the controllability and tumor specificity of CAR T cells. Specifically, we want to pursue two technologies: (i) ON/OFF-switch systems that can for the first time be regulated by clinically well applicable drugs and allow for orthogonal control of multiple processes in parallel; and (ii) novel AND-gate CARs (recognizing the combination of two antigens) that are exclusively based on human protein domains and can be immediately implemented clinically. In preliminary work, we have developed highly promising basic technologies for which we recently demonstrated the proof-of-principle (resulting in three patent applications and two submitted manuscripts).

The available PhD student position is part of a newly funded, highly interdisciplinary cooperation project between its head Dr. Manfred Lehner at CCRI (CAR design, immunology) and Dr. Michael Traxlmayr (protein engineering, yeast display), head of the external module at the Institute of Biochemistry at the University of Natural Resources and Life Sciences in Vienna. The whole project comprises four subprojects (to be conducted by 2 Postdocs and 2 PhDs) and the aim of the announced PhD position is to advance the ON/OFF-switch system. Part of the PhD project will be carried out at the external module.


Your qualifications:

We are looking for a highly motivated, self-driven, creative, efficient, well-organized and friendly person with good communication skills and a strong interest in protein engineering and immunotherapy.


The institution:

The St. Anna Children's Cancer Research Institute (CCRI) develops and optimizes diagnostic, prognostic, and therapeutic strategies for the treatment of children with cancer by combining basic research with translational and clinical research. The focus is on the specific characteristics of childhood tumor diseases in order to provide young patients with the best possible and most innovative therapies. Dedicated research groups in the fields of tumor genomics and epigenomics, immunology, molecular biology, cell biology, bioinformatics and clinical research are working together to harmonize scientific experimental findings with clinical needs. 

Your application:

If you are interested, please send an application including your CV, a motivation letter and the names of two referees to Dr. Manfred Lehner,

Application deadline is September 30th, 2019 and the position should ideally be filled by November 4th 2019. Successful applicants will be offered a competitive salary according to the Austrian Science Fund FWF;