The vibrant and interdisciplinary Stem Cell & Cancer Group is focusing on targeting cancer stem cells to prevent relapse in pancreatic cancer, one of the most devastating human cancers (https://www.shsmu.edu.cn/sph-cscomics/info/1102/1176.htm). It has now become evident that cancer heterogeneity is promoted by so-called cancer stem cells (CSCs), which are responsible for intraclonal heterogeneity, are driving metastasis and are inherently resistant to conventional therapies. Specifically, CSCs represent a subset of cancer cells, for which we have provided conclusive evidence down to the single-cell level that they represent the root of the disease by giving rise to all differentiated progenies within each cancer subclone (e.g. Cell Stem Cell 2007, 2011, 2015, Cell Metab 2015, Cancer Cell 2014, 2016, Nat Comm 2018, Nat Methods 2014). We now aim to improve the still dismal outcome of pancreatic cancer by systematically developing new strategies that target these highly tumourigenic and metastatic CSCs.
The underlying hypothesis is that comprehensive functional interrogation of CSCs at the single cell level results in the identification of novel CSC targets with broad applicability. Inhibition of these newly defined CSC pathways will reduce CSC content and thus prevent tumour relapse during/following treatment. To achieve this, we have developed an array of innovative methods that allow for the first time in vivo functional interrogation of rare CSCs embedded in whole primary human tumours including a comprehensive tumour microenvironment. To identify common regulators of CSC functions we are analysing (metastatic) CSCs derived from patients with (advanced) pancreatic cancer. In vivo RNAi library screens have now revealed several novel targets for specifically eliminating these cells.
Selected candidates will be recruited at PostDoc, Assistant or Associate Professor level and will lead independent research projects. In a highly collaborative environment we will realise the objectives and development of our research programme on the “Identification and validation of novel targets against cancer stem cells”, thereby contributing to the overall scientific endeavour of the Centre. The successful candidate will be focusing on one or two candidate genes, for which we already generated preliminary in vitro data validating their potential as novel CSC targets. The projects focus on areas such as stem cell signalling including mechanobiology, metabolism, as well as immunology and will involve a broad spectrum of advanced in vitro and in vivo techniques. The projects will start ASAP.
The group is hosted in the Center for Single-Cell Omics (CSCOmics), Shanghai Jiao Tong University School of Medicine. Our completely renovated research building is located on the medical campus in downtown Shanghai and equipped with state-of-the-art single cell equipment. For all positions, we strive to attract qualified candidates from across the globe with a strong focus on diversity. Salaries and benefits are highly competitive. Shanghai is a highly cosmopolitan city and one of China’s main technology hubs at all levels. English is our common communication channel. While proficiency in Chinese is not required, we do provide a free course in Mandarin Chinese as well as Chinese culture.