JOB POSTING: PhD position

Recruiting organisation: University Hospital Inselspital Bern, University of Bern, Switzerland

PI: Prof. Dr. med. Andrew Chan

Subproject title: Nose to Brain application of wildtype and engineered antibodies in the pathophysiological context in vivo

Starting date: 01.10.2021

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Job description:

The advertised subproject will be carried out by a PhD student (“Early-stage Researcher”: ESR) at the Department of Neurology, University Hospital Inselspital Bern, University of Bern, over a period of 36 months. The recruited researcher will work in the neuroimmunological research group (Center of experimental neurology) led by Prof. Dr. med. Andrew Chan, which brings together basic, clinical and translational research. The ESR will be registered in the PhD program of the Graduate School for Cellular and Biomedical Sciences (GCB) at the University of Bern.

The overall goal of this subproject is to employ innovative drug delivery systems developed in the consortium in rodent models of central nervous system disorders, namely autoimmune, ischemic and neurotoxic diseases.

The specific goals are:

  1. Antibody distribution of engineered and wildtype antibodies in a pathophysiological context in vivo (inflammation, ischemia, toxic).
  2. Therapeutic effects of engineered and wildtype antibodies in the pathophysiological context in vivo.
  3. Interactions of engineered and wildtype antibodies with primary central nervous system (CNS) and nasal cavity cells.

The main working tasks of the advertised subproject are:

  1. Nose to brain application of engineered antibodies in in vivo pathophysiological models of inflammation, ischemia and neurotoxicity. Proof of concept of predicted functionality of engineered antibodies in human material will be sought in primary human cells (CNS, nasal cavity including lymphoid tissue) in vitro. The results will also be used to corroborate the findings of the computational models.
  2. Behavioural tests and immunohistochemical analyses to determine potential therapeutic efficacy of mAbs in living mice.
  3. In vitro assessment of engineered antibody functionality with primary human cells to establish a proof-of-concept corroborating the findings of the computational models.

Secondments are planned as follows:

  1. Biberach University of Applied Science, Germany: One month.
  2. European Laboratory for non-linear Spectroscopy, Italy: Two months (divided in 1 month intervals).
  3. CSL Behring, Bern, Switzerland: One month.

This subproject is fully funded by the Marie Skłodowska-Curie European Training Network „Bio2Brain“ (H2020-MSCA-ITN-2020). The monthly gross salary consists of a living allowance, mobility allowance, and family allowance (if applicable). This is approximately 54,758.88 per annum which includes the single person’s mobility allowance, or € 60,758.88 per annum, which includes the married person’s/dependents mobility allowance (depending on the exchange rate with the Euro).

For more information on MSCA-ITN, please see: https://ec.europa.eu/research/mariecurieactions/.

The recruited researcher will have the opportunity to work as part of an international, interdisciplinary team of 13 PhD students, based at universities and industrial firms throughout Europe.

The successful candidate will attend yearly summer schools as well as international meetings and will receive training on transferable skills. The ESR is expected to finish the project with a PhD thesis and to disseminate the results through patents (if applicable), publications in peer-reviewed journals and presentations at international conferences.

Background information:

Marie Skłodowska-Curie European Training Networks (ETNs) are joint research and training projects funded by the European Union. Funding is provided for PhD students from both inside and outside Europe to carry out individual project work in a European country other than their own.

The Bio2Brain network will create a research environment for the interdisciplinary and intersectoral training of 13 ESRs for project work lasting for 36 months. They are supported by 11 academic teams (beneficiaries and partner universities), 5 key industrial stakeholders and an academic non-profit organization.

Disorders of the central nervous system (CNS), including multiple sclerosis as well as Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s diseases, affect around 165 million people in Europe. These disorders are often associated with severe suffering of the patients and their families, as well as an enormous burden on the social systems.

The Bio2Brain trans-European research network aims to promote efficient drug administration to the CNS. The research and training programme covers the development of new advanced materials, formulations, and engineered proteins for the intranasal CNS delivery of monoclonal antibodies (mAbs). The ESRs will obtain experience in the entire transdisciplinary development cycle of the medicinal product, from pharmacological drug pathway validation, product and process design, synthesis to characterization, as well as validation and quality control. The training will be complemented with useful tools for the time to market and commercialisation phase.

Requirements:

Qualifications / experience:

  • Early-stage researcher: a researcher without a PhD, who is in the first four years (full-time equivalent research experience) of their research career, measured from the date when the ESR obtained the degree, which would formally entitle to embark on a doctorate.
    Compulsory national service, short stays such as holidays, and time spent as part of a procedure for obtaining refugee status under the Geneva Convention are not taken into account.
  • Graduation in the field of Neurosciences, Biomedical Sciences, or other related fields (e.g. Biochemistry).
  • Experience in at least one of the following areas:
    • Animal experimentation (rodents),
    • Experimental immunology,
    • Novel application techniques,
    • Antibody design.
  • Basic knowledge of software for statistics, image analysis, result presentation.
  • Practical experience in histology/immunofluorescence microscopy is a plus.
  • Basic knowledge of data analysis.
  • Highly motivated, well-structured and autonomous working style, flexible and co-operative, very good organizational and communication skills, good writing and presentation skills, willing to travel and go on secondments.
  • Fluency in written and spoken English is a must, German or French is a plus as the Canton of Bern is bilingual.

Disabled applicants will be given preference, if equally qualified. Goals related to gender equality and diversity policy are an integral part at our institution. Therefore, we are pleased to receive applications from qualified women and diverse persons.

Mobility:

The applicant must not have resided or carried out their main activity (work, studies etc.) in Switzerland for more than 12 months in the past three years. Compulsory national service, short stays such as holidays, and time spent as part of a procedure for obtaining refugee status under the Geneva Convention are not taken into account.

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How to apply:

Interested candidates are strongly advised, prior to applying, to read carefully the job description and to contact Prof. Dr. med. Andrew Chan at andrew.chan@insel.ch or Dr. Vincent Pernet vincent.pernet@insel.ch in case of any questions or doubts.

Application system closed.

Assessment process on-going.

For further information about the Department of Neurology, University Hospital Inselspital Bern, University of Bern, please see: http://www.neurologie.insel.ch/. For the Neuroimmunology Group, please see: https://www.dbmr.unibe.ch/research/research_groups/neurology/index_eng.html

For questions, please contact:
Prof. Dr. med. Andrew Chan andrew.chan@insel.ch

Assessment of applications starts 6 April 2021

Interviews are planned for April/ May 2021.