Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai (ISMMS), MSHS

Postdoctoral - Neurodevelopment and Brain Tumors


New York City, NY, United States

Job Announcement: Looking for 1-2 enthusiastic, motivated postdoctoral fellow(s) with experimental and/or computational background and interest in neuro-oncology and neurodevelopment to join our team.

The lab’s main research question is to understand how brain tumor (glioma) cells hijack normal neurodevelopmental molecular programs to maintain their malignant cancer stem cell-like phenotype, focusing on the role of epigenetics and transcriptional regulation, with the ultimate goal of uncovering better strategies for reversing malignant tumor growth and migratory spread.

Job Qualifications: The applicant should have a Ph.D. degree; a strong background in either pure experimental neurobiology (cell culture and animal xenograft skills), or in computational biology and bioinformatics with some experimental biology skills, preferably in the field of cancer biology or neurobiology. Applicants with excellent work ethic, ability to multitask, and teaching skills will be given preference, given the lab’s expectation for involvement in other (collaborative) side projects, teaching, and motivation towards independent scientific career. For applicants with computational background, at least some experience in sample processing and analysis of bulk and single cell next generation sequencing data is required, including familiarity with UNIX, submitting jobs on a computing cluster, and programming experience in python, R (or equivalent).

Projects description: There are several ongoing projects, funded through separate R01 mechanisms, in which the fellows are expected to concentrate their immediate effort.

The first (experimentally-focused) project is to dissect the role of the Hippo pathway and its downstream effectors, YAP-TEAD, in glioma growth and migration, and the mechanism of Hippo and EGFR crosstalk in this context. This project builds on recent findings in the lab that the transcription factor TEAD1 drives tumor migration in GBM and is a direct regulator of EGFR (Tome-Garcia et al, Nature Communications 2018).

A second, related, project (integrating experimental with computational skills) is to characterize the molecular drivers of tumor migration at the genomic, epigenomic, and transcriptomic levels in glioma populations isolated from the infiltrative tumor edge vs. those isolated from the tumor core, both in primary patient samples and in patient-derived xenografts, using a large dataset of bulk and single cell RNA-seq, chromatin accessibility (ATAC-seq) and TEAD1-ChIP-seq datasets in various GBM subtypes derived from primary and recurrent tumor samples. Integrated analysis of the above datasets is focused on defining transcriptionally active chromatin cis regulatory elements and trans TF footprint occupancy in the context of tumor migration and progression.

The third (computationally-focused) project aims to uncover the transcriptional footprints driving human gliogenesis during normal neurodevelopment and during abnormal gliomagenesis, and involves the integrated analysis of bulk and single cell transcriptome (RNA-seq) and epigenome (ATAC-seq, HI-C, ChiP-seq) datasets, generated across five stages of normal human neural development, as well as in glioma samples.

Some of the commonly used techniques in the Tsankova lab include FACS isolation of neural / glioma stem cell populations from fresh tissues, CRISPR/Cas9 gene editing (knockout), bulk and single cell RNA-seq using the 10X chromium droplet-based technology, chromatin accessibility studies (ATAC-seq), chromatin immunoprecipitation (ChIP), in vitro migration and proliferation assays, in vivo migration analyses in orthotopic xenografts, live cell imaging, and drug screening for new inhibitors of glioma cell migration. Our model systems include primary patient-derived cells / spheroids and orthotopic xenograft mouse models.

Institutional Environment: Mount Sinai is a vibrant academic institution with strong expertise in the Oncological Sciences and Genomics / Genetics, integrating world-renown expertise and extremely collaborative spirit. Dr. Tsankova is an NIH-funded Principal Investigator and Associate Professor, with more than seven years of experience as an independent investigator, first at Columbia University and since 2014 at Mount Sinai. During this time, she has successfully trained several Masters students, Ph.D. students, and post-doctoral fellows, some of whom have already graduated. As an MD/PhD-trained and practicing physician scientist, Dr. Tsankova collaborates closely with neurosurgeons, neuro-oncologists, and participates in the clinical diagnostic molecular neuropathology service, which brings an important translational aspect to her basic research questions in neuro-oncology. At Mount Sinai, Dr. Tsankova also serves as the Director of Molecular Neuropathology, the Associate Program Director of Clinical Neuropathology, and as the Neuropathology Brain Bank & Research CoRE Co-Director.


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Postdoctoral - Neurodevelopment and Brain Tumors