Postdoc position on synonymous mutations in cancer

03 March 2020

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For more information please contact Prof. dr. Kim De Keersmaecker, tel.: +32 16 37 31 67, mail:

You can apply for this job no later than April 15, 2020 via the online application tool

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Apply before 15 April 2020

The Laboratory for Disease Mechanisms in Cancer (KU Leuven, Belgium) is looking for a motivated postdoc for our recently funded ERC consolidator project.

Many labs, including ours, have performed exome and transcriptome sequencing on large series of tumor samples to discover cancer driver mutations. In most studies, only mutations that cause amino acid changes are considered, assuming that synonymous mutations in protein coding regions are meaningless.

Nevertheless, several experimentally tested synonymous mutations have been ascribed a causative role in disease. Our data support that synonymous nucleotide changes can enhance gene expression and cell transformation via novel mechanisms, independent of splicing, and hence we hypothesize that the role of synonymous mutations in cancer is underestimated.

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Two computational biologists in the lab are applying bioinformatics and statistics approaches to delineate the landscape of synonymous driver mutations in public cancer genomics datasets. The postdoc that we will hire will be responsible for assisting the computational biologists in selecting the synonymous mutations that are most likely to be cancer driver mutations. He or she will also be responsible for testing the effect of selected mutations on expression level of the mutant gene and on cell behavior and for setting up follow-up molecular biological studies to unravel how selected mutations exert observed effects on gene expression level. Finally, the selected candidate will be responsible for developing mouse models for ribosome defective disease together with a PhD student in the lab.

  • You obtained a PhD within the last 6 years or are close to obtaining a PhD in a relevant discipline.
  • You have a strong publication record.
  • You have a strong knowledge of cancer biology, molecular biology and genetics.
  • Experience in working with mouse models and mammalian cell cultures as well as with standard molecular biology techniques is a strict requirement (transfection, transduction, PCR, western blotting, immunoprecipitation, cloning,…). Having a valid FELASA B certificate is a plus.
  • Experience with multicolor flow cytometry and in applying CRISPR-Cas9 technology is a plus.
  • Experience with performing and/or analyzing next generation sequencing based –omics experiments such as exome or transcriptome sequencing or in querying cancer genomics databases is a plus.
  • Computational biology skills such as being familiar with the Unix command line, R or Python or not required but are a plus.
  • Apart from being a true team player, the candidate is expected to exhibit a high degree of independence, to have a problem-solving attitude and have strong analytical and technical abilities in addition to excellent communication and presentation skills.
  • You are fluent in English, both written and spoken.
  • An exciting job in a friendly and dynamic lab
  • A stimulating and supportive international research environment in an ERC funded lab at KU Leuven, an international top research institute.
  • Excellent training opportunities to broaden your technical and academic career skills.
  • 1-year postdoctoral position with possibility of extension for 3 more years provided a positive evaluation. The successful candidate will also be encouraged and will get full support to obtain independent fellowships (Marie-Curie, EMBO, or National funding organizations).
  • Our lab is situated in Leuven, a charming and vibrant university city that is only a 20 minutes train ride away from the city of Brussels, at the heart of Europe.

Starting date: To be negotiated, any date after April 15th 2020