Position: PhD Student in Extracellular Matrix Proteomics

Department: Systems Biology of Signal Transduction

Code number: 2021-0209

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

Job description:

Characterization of marker patterns derived from the extracelluar matrix indicative for the transition from liver cirrhosis to liver cancer

Liver cancer with its predominant form hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) is expected to rise dramatically over the next decade as the result of an alarming increase in non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD). The chronic liver disease NAFLD frequently progresses to liver fibrosis and finally liver cirrhosis which eventually leads in many patients to the formation of liver cancer. Surgical resection is the only available curative intervention and this is only possible at very early stages of the cancer. Therefore, there is a major interest in accessible markers indicating the eminent progression of a patient with liver cirrhosis across the tipping point towards liver cancer.

Strategies will be developed to analyze components of the extracellular matrix (ECM) in liver tissue and plasma by mass spectrometry. This will require both the optimization of solubilization protocols for the reliable analysis of ECM proteins and establishment of methods to detect cleavage products in the plasma reflecting ECM remodeling towards a tumor promoting microenvironment. This project also encompasses the development of an automated data analysis pipeline including quality assurance with the aim to generate data suitable for machine learning approaches to establish classifiers for the identification of patients at particular risk to progress to liver cancer.



We are looking for a candidate with a master's degree in biology or bioinformatics or a related field. The successful candidate should have a background in biochemistry and/or bioinformatics, and be interested in mass spectrometry and matrisome biology. Experience with Python and R are of advantage. Furthermore, communication skills and the readiness to work in an interdisciplinary project are key.

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: 30.07.2021


Prof. Dr. Ursula Klingmüller
Phone +49 (0)6221/42-4481

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

The DKFZ is committed to increase the proportion of women in all areas and positions in which women are underrepresented. Qualified female applicants are therefore particularly encouraged 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 (https://www.dkfz.de/en/stellenangebote/index.php).

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.