Postdoc Position

Leuven VIB-KU Leuven Center for Cancer Biology

20 Jul 2022

Leuven

VIB-KU Leuven Center for Cancer Biology

Peter Carmeliet Lab

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The laboratory of Angiogenesis and Vascular Metabolism headed by Prof. Peter Carmeliet is one of the laboratories of the Center for Cancer Biology (CCB), a research department of VIB (Flanders Institute for Biotechnology) located in the Oncology Department at the KU Leuven (Leuven, Belgium).

The lab of Peter Carmeliet recently started a twin lab, the laboratory for Angiogenesis and Vascular Heterogeneity, at the Department of Biomedicine at Aarhus University (Denmark) (https://pure.au.dk/portal/da/pecar@biomed.au.dk) which is closely intertwined with the lab at the VIB-KU Leuven CCB (https://carmelietlab.sites.vib.be/en). Both the Leuven and new Aarhus lab function as one virtual lab, and synergistically combine their joint forces and focus to study similar fundamental questions in vascular biology and angiogenesis, and to develop more efficiently new vascular medicine.

Prof. Carmeliet has an open position for a Postdoctoral fellow in the Leuven and Aarhus lab.

Background project

The research of Prof. Peter Carmeliet focuses on the development of blood vessels (angiogenesis) and vascular heterogeneity in health and disease, with the aim to identify novel therapeutic pro- and anti-angiogenic strategies.

Current anti-angiogenesis therapies (AATs), by targeting the pro-angiogenic factor VEGF, suffer resistance and insufficient efficacy. The Carmeliet lab explores opportunities to overcome these limitations and to improve AAT by focusing on endothelial cell metabolism, endothelial heterogeneity and in particular, endothelial immunity. Recent projects, combining single-cell transcriptomics with bulk multi-omics (transcriptomics, (epi)-genomics, proteomics & metabolomics) revealed novel insights in endothelial cell metabolism and heterogeneity in health and disease that can help design novel AAT strategies. See below for more project details.

Job Description

The lab is looking for a Postdoc to help us to discover new therapeutic targets (using bulk/single cell multi-omics) and to bridge the valley of death (by functionally validating these targets).

You will interact with a dynamic and experienced team of scientists and laboratory technicians. We are looking for dynamic and flexible candidates, willing to step into new adventures, daring to break new grounds outside of their comfort zone, passionate about opportunities to set up new technologies and facilities, not being shy of diving into new fields, being primed and eager to become acquainted with new techniques (e.g., computational programming, artificial intelligence, LNP-technology, etc.).

Key Accountabilities

  • Performing cell culture techniques: isolation and culture of endothelial cells and other cell types from surgical samples (human and mouse).
  • Single cell library preparation and sequencing.
  • Experience with Histology & imaging, molecular biology techniques and animal experiments.
  • Mentor junior scientists daily, between multiple disciplines and ensure continuity.
  • Organize and troubleshoot work independently under the leadership of Prof. Carmeliet, but also team up with members of the lab (Leuven and Aarhus.
  • In consultation with Prof. Carmeliet and his senior staff, you may be asked to run micro-projects, where you will have the freedom and responsibility to manage your projects, including supervising junior colleagues, planning daily agendas, managing budgets, writing papers, etc.
  • You are sufficiently mature to interact with other colleagues via in-person and virtual meetings, communicate in a professional manner, and participate in seminars and grant/manuscript writing.
  • You should be prepared to travel to the Aarhus lab for training and education, and for exchange of expertise between the Aarhus and Leuven lab.

You will report directly to Prof. Peter Carmeliet.

Your profile

  • Candidates have a PhD in biology/biomedicine, pharmacy, biomedical engineering, bioinformatics/ computer science (AI), or related fields, with minimal 3-4 years of research experience
  • Strong skills in working in the field of vascular biology, immunology and/or experience in biotech, intellectual protection, etc. are an extra-added value
  • You have a publication record in peer-reviewed international journals.
  • Having experience in: (i) integrating single-cell multi-omics; (ii) computational programming in R (and other common computer languages); (iii) competence/interest in analysing and integrating complex omics- and clinical datasets are a plus. 
  • You are interested and motivated to work on ambitious projects in an open, dynamic, competitive and driven team.
  • You have excellent organizational and supervisory skills, you can work in a team as well as independently.
  • You have a strong ability to multi-task, meet timelines and work accurately.
  • You have good communication skills in spoken and written English.

We offer

  • The unique opportunity to work in a multidisciplinary international team (at two locations) and to contribute to the discovery and development of novel drug targets.
  • Access to, and training in, state-of-the-art technologies in biomedical research. The Leuven lab has multiple core-facilities, with expertise in (single cell) genomics/transcriptomics, bioinformatics, (stem) cell culture, FACS, metabolomics, animal surgery, mouse transgenesis, immunohistochemistry & in situ hybridisation (RNAscope) and imaging (https://vibcancer.be/expertise-centers).
  • Opportunities to interact with and become acquainted with start-up companies, involved in developing new vascular medicine and/or "big-biological data management companies" involved in target discovery. 
  • A dynamic working environment in which quality, professionalism and team spirit are encouraged. A stimulating scientific surrounding in a young, enthusiastic, motivated team (with English as main language).
  • Training in project management (e.g., supervision of students, budget management). Excellent training conditions within a team of experts. Long-term career opportunities.
  • Starting as soon as possible.

The Project

The Carmeliet lab applies their expertise and research focus to evaluate and deliver novel therapeutic concepts into clinical development with the ambition to change the life of patients with vasculature-related disorders. Standard gene modulation strategies (conditional gene targeting/silencing/overexpression) are exploited as well as novel, sophisticated, high-throughput multi-omics approaches (bulk and scRNAseq, scG&T, scATAC, etc.) and computational modelling and biology (artificial intelligence, machine learning), both for hypothesis-generating and hypothesis-testing experiments. For instance, recent successful efforts in generating a single cell transcriptome atlas of endothelial cells (ECs) from various healthy and pathological (including tumor) tissues from preclinical models and clinical patient samples have revealed the existence of previously unknown endothelial cell subtypes, including endothelial cells with a resident endothelial stem cell signature, and endothelial cells with a putative immune-modulatory role (termed “IMECs”), key findings being taken into further investigation. In addition, we developed an innovative AI-based tool to predict novel unknow genes in ECs, to develop alternative therapies. Newly AI-identified targets are validated in vitro and in vivo using lipid nanoparticles (LNP) based strategies and novel knock down technologies in mice.

A major challenge of current medical research is to translate the obtained high-profile insights into new medicine. We aspire to not only discover new therapeutic targets, but also to "bridge the valley of death" in order to improve drug development.

How to apply?

Applications for this position should be submitted online and contain:

  • Complete CV
  • Motivation letter
  • List of publications
  • Summary of past research
  • Contact information or reference letters of 2 or 3 referees

If you have questions about this position, please contact Prof. Peter Carmeliet: peter.carmeliet@kuleuven.be or Katie Van Geyte: katie.vangeyte@kuleuven.be.