Atlas Translational PhD Program

Functional characterization of a novel uveal melanoma target

Scientific background

Uveal melanoma (UVM) is the most common intraocular cancer, which arises from melanocytes in the uveal tract of the eye. UVM is rare and has a high unmet medical need and, unlike skin melanoma, has not been well characterized for immunological targets. We recently identified a novel target candidate that has been only poorly studied and its functional and immunological relevance in UVM is currently unknown.

PhD project description

The overall goal of this PhD project is to characterize a target candidate at a functional and immunological level. Experiments will include generating UVM and melanoma cells lines, which express or silence the target candidate, as well as adapting in vitro assays (e.g. proliferation, sphere formation) for intended cell lines to investigate functional differences in the context of the target expression. Furthermore, cell lines will be used to study tumor growth and metastasis in vivo and test treatment strategies in vivo.

Required profile of the candidate

  • Master’s degree in biochemistry, cell biology, biomedicine or any related field.

  • Hands-on mammalian cell culture experience.

  • Any practical experience in cell biology assays (e.g., flow cytometry, proliferation, migration and invasion assays) is highly advantageous.

  • Hands-on experience in molecular biology techniques (CRISPR, NGS, PCR) and biochemical methods (Western blotting) is beneficial.

  • Any experience with in vivo assays/tumor models and a FELASA B certificate would be a plus.

Publications relevant to the project 

  • Durante MA, Rodriguez DA, Kurtenbach S, et al. Single-cell analysis reveals new evolutionary complexity in uveal melanoma. Nat Commun. 2020;11(1):496. Published 2020 Jan 24. doi: 10.1038/s41467-019-14256-1.

  • Basile MS, Mazzon E, Fagone P, et al. Immunobiology of Uveal Melanoma: State of the Art and Therapeutic Targets. Front Oncol. 2019;9:1145. Published 2019 Nov 5. doi: 10.3389/fonc.2019.01145.

  • Schank TE, Hassel JC. Immunotherapies for the Treatment of Uveal Melanoma-History and Future. Cancers (Basel). 2019;11(8):1048. Published 2019 Jul 24. doi: 10.3390/cancers11081048.

  • Carvajal RD, Schwartz GK, Tezel T, Marr B, Francis JH, Nathan PD. Metastatic disease from uveal melanoma: treatment options and future prospects. Br J Ophthalmol. 2017;101(1):38-44. doi: 10.1136/bjophthalmol-2016-309034.

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