Position: Postdoc Position in Pediatric Neurooncology

Department: Pediatric Neurooncology

Code number: 2019-0085

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.

Cancer remains the leading cause of disease-related death in children. For the ~25% of children who experience relapses of their malignant solid tumors, usually after very intensive first-line therapy, curative treatment options are scarce. Preclinical drug testing to identify promising treatment options that match the molecular make-up of the tumor is hampered by the fact that:

  • molecular genetic data on pediatric solid tumors from relapsed patients and thus our understanding of tumor evolution and therapy resistance are very limited to date.
  • for many of the high-risk entities, no appropriate and molecularly well characterized patient-derived models are currently available.

Thus, quality-assured upfront preclinical testing of novel molecularly targeted compounds in a repertoire of well-characterized models will establish the basis to increase therapeutic successes of these drugs in children with solid malignancies. Since these tumors are overall genetically much less complex than their adult counterparts, it is anticipated that it will be easier to identify powerful predictive biomarkers to allow for accurate matching of targets and drugs.

Innovative Therapies for Children with Cancer Pediatric Preclinical Proof-of-concept Platform (ITCC-P4) is a newly formed public-private partnership supported by the European consortium ‘Innovative Medicines Initiative’ (IMI). The consortium with currently 21 partners from 8 countries aims to establish 400 new preclinical patient-derived xenograft (PDX) models of high-risk pediatric solid tumors which will be fully characterized (molecularly, immunologically, pharmacologically and clinically well-annotated) and to build a sustainable comprehensive platform to use these models for drug testing. It brings together many of Europe`s most distinguished academic and clinical research institutions, well established Small-to-Medium sized Enterprises (SMEs), members of the European Biopharmaceutical Enterprises (EBE) and the members of the European Federation of Pharmaceutical Industries and Associations (EFPIA), thus providing a unique setting to improve patient outcomes by introducing new and effective medicines in standard of care of young people still dying of these rare cancers.

Job description:

For this project we are looking for a postdoc who will be responsible for (a) the coordination of the PDX pipeline of pediatric brain tumors in our division, from the establishment and characterization to the use in preclinical experiments, (b) coordination of the molecular characterization of all PDX brain tumor models generated by all the different partners in the ITCC-P4 project, which will take place at the DKFZ (non-brain tumor models will be characterized in Paris), (c) other preclinical experiments using hypothesis-driven targeted treatment approaches in vitro and in vivo.

For more info:





  1. Johann PD, Erkek S, Zapatka M, et al. Atypical teratoid / rhabdoid tumors (ATRT) are comprised of three epigenetic subgroups with distinct enhancer landscapes. Cancer Cell 2016;29:379-93.
  2. Pajtler KW, Witt H, Sill M, et al. Molecular Classification of Ependymal Tumors across All CNS Compartments, Histopathological Grades, and Age Groups. Cancer Cell 2015;27:728-43.
  3. Kool M, Jones DT, Jager N, et al. Genome sequencing of SHH medulloblastoma predicts genotype-related response to smoothened inhibition. Cancer Cell 2014;25:393-405.
  4. Sturm D, Orr BA, Toprak UH, et al. New brain tumour entities emerge from molecular classification of CNS-PNETs. Cell 2016;164:1060-72.
  5. Northcott PA, Lee C, Zichner T, et al. Enhancer hijacking activates GFI1 family oncogenes in medulloblastoma. Nature 2014;511:428-34.
  6. Mack SC, Pajtler KW, Chavez L, et al. Therapeutic targeting of ependymoma as informed by oncogenic enhancer profiling. Nature 2018;553:101-105.
  7. Brabetz, S., Leary, S.E.S., Gröbner, S.N., et al. A biobank of patient-derived pediatric brain tumor models. Nature Medicine 2018, in press.


Applicants should be highly motivated, hard-working individuals who enjoy working in an international team and are passionate about making a difference through cancer research. They should hold a university as well as a doctoral degree in biology or a related field, have expertise in analysis and integration of next-generation sequencing and other multiomics data, have expertise in working with animals, a strong interest in cancer biology, are highly self-motivated, and able to pursue research projects independently. Excellent communication and organization skills and proficiency in English are mandatory.

We offer:

  • Interesting, versatile workplace
  • International, attractive working environment
  • Campus with modern state-of-the-art infrastructure
  • Salary according to TV-L including social benefits
  • Possibility to work part-time
  • Flexible working hours
  • Comprehensive further training program
  • Access to the DKFZ  International Postdoc Program

Earliest Possible Start Date: as soon as possible

Duration: The position is limited to 2 years.

The position can in principle be part-time.

Application Deadline: 02.04.2019


Dr. Marcel Kool
Phone +49 (0)6221/42-4636

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.