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For a recently awarded European Research Council (ERC) grant we are recruiting a postdoc and a PhD student who want to develop and apply advanced genomics and screening technology. We aim to explore whether epigenetic alterations alone may suffice to convert a normal cell into a cancer cell and vice versa. Progress along these lines will answer a fundamental question of cancer biology and provide a broadly useful platform technology for developing a new generation of epigenetic cancer drugs.
Our lab is based at the CeMM Research Center for Molecular Medicine of the Austrian Academy of Sciences in Vienna. It combines advanced technologies (epigenomics, single-cell sequencing, drug screening, mass spectrometry, imaging, etc.) with a deep interest in computational modeling and relevant clinical collaborations. We are working to advance cancer therapy through systems-level research focusing on the cancer epigenome.
Epigenetic alterations can be detected in all cancers and in essentially every patient. Despite their prevalence, the concrete functional roles of these alterations are not well understood. In this project, we aim to develop and apply epigenome programming technology that will allow us to precisely manipulate the epigenome and to rationally reprogram normal cells into cancer cells and vice versa. We will adapt CRISPR technology and combinatorial use of epigenetic drugs to high-throughput epigenome editing, develop suitable screening assays, and ultimately engineer and erase a cancer from scratch through a defined series of epigenetic modifications. This project will establish a broadly applicable methodology and toolbox for dissecting the functional roles of epigenetic alterations in cancer, and it will introduce a “build it to understand it” paradigm into cancer epigenetics, which will challenge our understanding of cancer as a (mainly) genetic disease.
We are looking for highly motivated and academically outstanding candidates who want to pursue a scientific career in the emerging field of medical epigenomics. An ideal candidate would have a background in molecular biology (including functional genomics, chemical biology, biotechnology, human genetics, molecular medicine, etc.) or in the computational sciences (bioinformatics, physics, statistics, etc.) and a strong interest in collaboration and teamwork at the interdisciplinary interface of cancer epigenetics, systems biology, and medicine.
The Lab (http://www.medical-epigenomics.org/)
The Medical Epigenomics Lab at CeMM pursues an interdisciplinary and highly collaborative research program aimed at understanding the cancer epigenome and establishing its utility for precision medicine. The lab is internationally well-connected and active in several fields:
- Epigenomics. We perform large-scale epigenome mapping in order to dissect the dynamics of cancer development and emerging drug resistance. This work is part of the European BLUEPRINT project and the International Human Epigenome Consortium.
- Technology. Exciting biomedical research is often driven by new technologies. Our lab is therefore heavily invested into technology development, including single-cell protocols, nanopore sequencing, CRISPR, and epigenome editing.
- Bioinformatics. New algorithms and advanced computational methods allow us to accurately infer epigenetic cell states from large-scale datasets, in order to reconstruct the epigenetic landscape that controls cellular differentiation and reprogramming.
- Diagnostics. Using large-scale DNA methylation mapping, bioinformatic prioritization, and functional characterization, we strive to develop clinically relevant biomarkers for informing personalized cancer therapy.
The Principal Investigator (https://scholar.google.com/citations?user=9qSsTcIAAAAJ)
Christoph Bock is a principal investigator at CeMM, guest professor at the Medical University of Vienna, scientific coordinator of Vienna’s Biomedical Sequencing Facility, and adjunct group leader at the Max Planck Institute for Informatics. Previous appointments include the Max Planck Institute for Informatics (PhD studies) and the Broad Institute of MIT and Harvard (postdoctoral research). CB is a 2009 recipient of the Otto Hahn Medal by the Max Planck Society for pioneering work in computational epigenetics, and he recently received two major career development grants – a New Frontier Group award by the Austrian Academy of Sciences (EUR 1.4 million) and an ERC Starting Grant by the European Research Council (EUR 1.3 million). CB leads Genom Austria, which is the Austrian contribution to the International Network of Personal Genome Projects, and he is a member of several European and global initiatives on epigenetics & precision medicine.
The Institute (http://www.cemm.at/)
CeMM is an international research institute of the Austrian Academy of Sciences. Driven by medical needs, CeMM integrates basic research and medical expertise to pursue innovative approaches focused on cancer, inflammation, and immune disorders. CeMM is located at the center of one of the largest medical campuses in Europe, within walking distance of Vienna’s historical city center. A study by “The Scientist” placed CeMM among the top-5 best places to work in academia world-wide (http://the-scientist.com/2012/08/01/best-places-to-work-academia-2012). Vienna is frequently ranked the world’s best city to live. It is a United Nations city with a large English-speaking community. The official language at CeMM is English, and more than 30 different nationalities are represented at the institute.