Position: PhD Student

Department: Precision Sarcoma Research

Code number: 2019-0118

The German Cancer Research Center is the largest biomedical research institution in Germany. With approximately 3,000 employees, we operate an extensive scientific program in the field of cancer research.

The DFG-funded Emmy Noether research group of Priya Chudasama, Division of Precision Sarcoma Research at the German Cancer Research Center (DKFZ) and National Center for Tumor Diseases (NCT) Heidelberg, seeks a PhD candidate to work on a translational research project focused on telomere maintenance mechanisms in an aggressive group of tumors called bone and soft-tissue sarcomas.

Job description:

To escape replicative senescence, cancer cells must maintain the ends of chromosomes called telomeres. About 85% of cancers re-activate the expression of telomerase, whereas 15% rely on a telomerase-independent mechanism called “alternative lengthening of telomeres (ALT)”. A comprehensive understanding of the molecular mechanism underlying ALT remains elusive. We recently identified ALT to be frequent in sarcomas (Chudasama, Mughal, Sanders, Hübschmann et al. Nature Communications 2018). In this project, we aim to analyze more than 700 sarcomas for presence of ALT and identify genomic aberrations associated with ALT to delineate molecular mechanisms underlying ALT by 1) identification of ALT-associated aberrations by investigating genomics and transcriptomics datasets, 2) functional characterization of ALT-associated aberrations in suitable cell models using genome-editing methods such as CRISPR/Cas9 knock out to identify potential drug targets, and 3) reconstruction of ALT-associated telomeres using PacBio SMRT long-read sequencing. This work will contribute to a better understanding of ALT in cancer, and to the development of targeted therapies for ALT positive tumor diseases. Additionally, the PhD candidate will have the opportunity to work on epigenetic deregulation in sarcoma as a potential second project.


  • A Diploma/Master of Science or equivalent degree in molecular biology, biochemistry, biotechnology or related fields
  • Exceptionally motivated with strong laboratory and analytical skills with interest in a translational research project aimed to advance precision medicine efforts
  • Experience in cell culture, molecular biology, and protein biochemistry methods
  • Expertise in R programming language is a plus but not necessary
  • Ability to work independently as well as in a collaborative team
  • Excellent communication skills, proficiency in English, and strong work ethics

Applications must include a CV, cover letter, certificates, expected availability date, a complete list of publications and 2-3 reference letters.

We offer:

  • Interesting, versatile workplace
  • International, attractive working environment
  • Campus with modern state-of-the-art infrastructure
  • Access to international research networks
  • Doctoral student payment including social benefits
  • Flexible working hours
  • Comprehensive training and mentoring program through the Helmholtz International Graduate School

Earliest Possible Start Date: as soon as possible

Duration: The position is limited to 3 years with the possibility of prolongation.

Application Deadline: 26.04.2019


Dr. Priya Chudasama
Phone +49 6221 42 1649

Please note that we do not accept applications submitted via email.

The German Cancer Research Center is committed to increase the percentage of female scientists and encourages female applicants to apply. Among candidates of equal aptitude and qualifications, a person with disabilities will be given preference.                           

To apply for a position please use our online application portal (www.dkfz.de/jobs).

We ask for your understanding that we cannot return application documents that are sent to us by post (Deutsches Krebsforschungszentrum, Personalabteilung, Im Neuenheimer Feld 280, 69120 Heidelberg) and that we do not accept applications submitted via email. We apologize for any inconvenience this may cause.