Position: PhD Student

Department: Viral Transformation Mechanisms

Code number: 2019-0303

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.

Job description:

Non-melanoma skin cancer (NMSC) is the most frequent cancer among Caucasians worldwide. Although cancer is a multi-factorial process, UV exposure and predominantly certain cutaneous beta type papillomaviruses (PV) are the most important risk factors for the development of this cancer entity. In the current project we will use the unique preclinical rodent model Mastomys coucha to study the cross-talk between PV-infected/virus-negative skin and innate immunity in the development of UV-induced NMSC. This model mimics many aspects of NMSC development in humans.

The leading anticipation of the proposed project is the finding that the inherent efficiency to repair the DNA after UV irradiation is affected by a distinct microenvironment of cells of the monocyte-macrophage lineage and the signals leading to their infiltration. Hence, the main goal of the study is to substantiate a novel concept referred to as “macrophage-assisted DNA repair” in vivo in a natural animal model.

Experimentally, the project includes expression profiling and RNAseq analyses of UV-irradiated skin and skin tumors as well as in in vitro model systems, in combination with protein analyses (Western blotting, immunoprecipitation, ELISA, FACS, IHC) to investigate microenvironmental changes on cellular and cytokine level. The impact of viral oncogene expression on the DNA damage response upon UV exposure will be investigated also in established cell lines infected with cutaneous papillomaviruses and in co-cultivation experiments with isolated immune cells. Since the microenvironment is shaped in an auto- and paracrine manner, the secretome of UV-damaged cells in the context of NMSC formation will be an additional focus.

This is a collaborative project with the Hadasssah Medical Center in Jerusalem, Israel. There will be also the possibility to stay in the partner lab for some weeks to exchange ideas and experimental skills.

For more information, please see:

  • Hasche et al., Front Microbiol. 2018
  • Hasche et al., PLoS Pathog. 2017
  • Geiger-Maor et al., Cancer Res. 2015


The candidate should have a master's degree in biology, immunology, molecular medicine or an equivalent topic. Experience with molecular and immunological techniques as well with basic bioinformatics is a prerequisite. He/she should have a broad knowledge and interest in molecular biology and should also be well-read about the role of viruses in human cancer development. The candidate should be willed to work with animals; a FELASA B certificate is a plus, but not a prerequisite. Good German/English writing and communication skills and social competence to work in an international team is expected. Please send CV, copies of certificates, your research interests and contact addresses of two referees.

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.

Application Deadline: 17.10.2019


Dr. Daniel Hasche
Phone +49 6221/42-4922

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.