Two postdoctoral fellowships from the Danish Cancer Society

The Danish Cancer Society (Kræftens Bekæmpelse) has awarded our group two postdoctoral fellowships: one to Edward Horton and one to Raphael Reuten. Both fellowships are due to start in spring 2019 and will last for 3 years. Edward’s project aims to analyse interactions between cancer cells and their microenvironment to determine how metastatic cancer cells grow in some organs but not others. Raphael’s project aims to determine the role of laminin heterotrimers during tumor progression.

We are delighted to receive these fellowships and are grateful to Kræftens Bekæmpelse for their support. You can learn more about Kræftens Bekæmpelse at www.cancer.dk

Addition of a new team member: Maria Rafaeva

Maria_photo2We are happy to announce the addition of a new PhD student to our group. Please welcome MSc Maria Rafaeva.

Maria is an enthusiastic young researcher with a background in cell biology. In 2015 she completed her BSc studies at Lomonosov Moscow State University in Russia. Being driven by an interest in microscopy, she continued her studies with a Master’s degree in Biomedical Imaging at the University of Turku in Finland. There she joined the laboratory of Prof. Johanna Ivaska and worked on the role of cell metabolism in regulation of integrin receptor activity and cancer cell invasion.

In the Erler lab Maria will focus her efforts on uncovering the role of cancer cell-extracellular matrix interactions in metastasis, which in the future could lead to the identification of new solutions for cancer therapy. We are very excited to have her in the lab and we look forward to follow the project progress.

 

Janine Erler awarded Lundbeck Foundation’s Research Prize for Young Scientists 2017

Honorary award

On Monday 6 November 2017, Professor Janine Erler received the Lundbeck Foundation’s Research Prize for Young Scientists, which is a personal, honorary award of DKK 300,000, given to a young scientist under the age of 40. The prize is awarded once a year to acknowledge a particularly promising scientist who has produced outstanding research in the field of biomedical science.

 

“Janine Erler is a researcher who can take on almost anything. She is a great talent, a skilled researcher, a popular lecturer, a much-used assessor for journals and foundations, a talented research leader and an expert communicator, who can see the commercial potential of her own research. With the 2017 Research Prize for Young Scientists we wish to recognise Janine’s vital scientific contributions and dedication to using her research to create value for society,” says Anne-Marie Engel, Director of Research at the Lundbeck Foundation.

Read more at Lundbeck or BRIC websites.

Addition of a new team member: Dr. Pier Giorgio Amendola

Pier

We are happy to announce the addition of a new postdoc to our group. Please welcome Dr. Pier Giorgio Amendola.

Pier is an Italian postdoctoral scientist with a solid background in molecular and cellular biology. Pier earned his Msc in Molecular Biology at the Weizmann Institute of Science in Israel, studying the role of the tumor suppressor p53 in cellular differentiation and cancer. During his PhD at BRIC, University of Copenhagen, Pier discovered a novel function for a histone modifier in DNA Damage Response, a pathway which is frequently compromised in several tumors. In the Erler lab, Pier is focusing his efforts on the development of new effective anti-metastatic therapies with the aim of improving current treatments, including the survival and well-being of human patients. We are very excited to have Pier in the lab and we look forward to follow the project progress.

Addition of a new team member: Dr. Tine Thurison Røndbjerg

Tine Photo - Website

We are happy to announce the addition of a new postdoctoral scientist to our group. Please welcome Dr. Tine Thurison Røndbjerg.

Tine is bringing in extensive expertise in translational cancer research, animal models and biomarker research. Tine completed her PhD at the Finsen Laboratory, University of Copenhagen in 2014, where after she moved to the US and continued her research in the lab of Dr. Charles Craik at University of California San Francisco. In the Erler lab, Tine is focusing her efforts on a collaborative clinical project, aiming at offering personalized treatment to metastatic cancer patients in Denmark. We are very exited to have her in the lab and we look forward to follow the project progress.

Postdoctoral fellowship from the Danish Cancer Society awarded to Sebastian Rune Nielsen

Erler Lab, May 2017 

Kræftens Bekæmpelse, the Danish Cancer Society, has awarded a 3-year postdoctoral fellowship to our newest member, Sebastian Rune Nielsen, to determine how the extracellular matrix regulates the function of tumour-associated macrophages in pancreatic cancer.

Patients with pancreatic cancer have the worst prognosis among all cancer patients, with only 7% of patients alive 5 years after their diagnosis. In 2030, pancreatic cancer is predicted to be the second most common cause of death among cancer patients. There is an urgent need to improve the therapeutic options for patients, as the survival rate has not improved in the last 10 years.

Already we know that the presence of tumour-associated macrophages in the pancreatic tumour correlates with decreased patient survival. In addition, the composition of extracellular matrix proteins, and the stiffness of tumour tissue, change as the tumour grows and the cancer progresses. The goal of this project is to determine how changes in the extracellular matrix, such as altered protein composition and increased tissue rigidity, regulate the function of tumour-associated macrophages in pancreatic cancer. The ultimate aim is to identify new tumour-promoting signalling pathways in tumour-associated macrophages that can be targeted therapeutically to block tumour progression in pancreatic cancer.

We are grateful to Kræftens Bekæmpelse for their support in this project. You can learn more about Kræftens Bekæmpelse by visiting their website: www.cancer.dk

PhD position available in our lab

By Erler Lab, April 2017

We are looking for a highly motivated and dynamic student, with a strong interest in the tumour microenvironment.

Project
The student will research how the extracellular matrix is altered during cancer progression. The project will include novel therapeutic targeting strategies to disrupt metastasis.

Start: Preferably 1st September 2017 or after agreement.

Duration: 3 years as a PhD

Qualifications
We are looking for a highly motivated and enthusiastic candidate with the following qualifications:

  • A Master of Science in biology, biochemistry or similar
  • Experience in cancer research
  • Knowledge about the tumour microenvironment
  • Knowledge about the extracellular matrix
  • Excellent communication skills in English To be considered for the position as PhD fellow, it is a condition, that your Master of Science degree is considered to be equivalent to a Danish Master of Science (http://fivu.dk/en). For further information regarding the position, please contact Associate Professor Janine Erler on e-mail: janine.erler@bric.ku.dk

 

Application
Your application must be submitted electronically via BRIC’s website on http://www.bric.ku.dk/jobs/.

Raphael Reuten wins Young Investigator award from the German Society for Matrix Biology

Raphael Reuten, March 2017

The German Society for Matrix Biology Young Investigator Award is selected every year during the society’s Annual Meeting. This year the meeting took place in Cologne and was organised by Gerhard Sengle, Julia Etich and others.

I was delighted to be nominated, together with two other outstanding scientists: Eva Brauchle, from the  Schenke-Layland lab, University of Tübingen and the Fraunhofer Institute for Interfacial Engineering and Biotechnology (IGB) and Zhiqi Sun, from the Fässler lab, Max-Planck Institute of Biochemistry, Matrinsried, Munich).

Eva Brauchle presented an interesting and promising diagnostic tool which uses spectroscopy to detect deficiencies of extracellular matrix proteins related with skin diseases while Zhiqi Sun presented the uncoupling role of the intracellular Kank protein family members of integrins, during force transduction.

I was excited to present parts of my PhD thesis, giving insight into the disruptive force of the secreted extracellular matrix protein netrin-4 on basement membranes (read more about my work), and was thrilled to be selected as the winner of the Young Investigator Award.

The Annual Meeting of the German Matrix Society brings the majority of german matrix experts together every year. Moreover, the Society aims to invite outstanding scientists working on extracellular matrix topics and problems. This year we had the chance to see the work of Vivek Malhotra, Barcelona, Spain who provided insight into Collagen secretion; Viola Vogel, Zurich, Switzerland who presented a peptide approach to sense matrix stiffness status within tissues, and Boris Hinz, Toronto, Canada who showed the memory ability of fibrotic matrix.

I would like to thank the whole organising team of the Meeting for some inspiring days.

Using patients’ own cells to kill cancer

erler_pm_figure
Each patient’s tumour will be used for molecular analysis, and for growth as cells and tumors in the lab. The molecular information will be used to decide which family of drugs to test on the patient’s cells and tumors in the lab. The results of drug testing will be directly applied to the patient, determining which effective therapies should be administered to the patient. The cells and tumors grown in the lab will also be used for further drug and biological studies, and we will create a platform for future drug development and testing. (Illustration has been adapted from Creixell et al, 2012, Nature Biotechnology)

Cancer patient survival rates in Denmark are among the poorest in Europe, but a new project aims to use personalized medicine to fight back. A number of public and private partners have come together to treat cancer patients with much better accuracy than before, by using patients’ own cells to identify the best possible treatment.

The spread of cancer from a primary tumor to other parts of the body is called metastasis. Metastasis is very complex and often patients with the same type of cancer do not respond to treatment in the same way. This new project, will establish a precision medicine approach to identifying effective treatment options for individual cancer patients with metastatic cancer and involves an already established clinical program at Rigshospitalet where patient tumors are being molecularly profiled.

This ‘pre-clinical program for cancer precision medicine’ will enable pre-screening of drugs to identify the optimal treatment strategy for each patient, using cells from patients grown in the laboratory and tested with a range of potential anti-cancer drugs. Through the use of patient-derived cells, along with the profiling data to create a personalized treatment strategy, the team is also hopeful they will create a platform for future development of new and targeted drugs in collaboration with pharmaceutical companies.

“With this grant from Innovationsfonden we now have the opportunity to accurately match patients with the treatment option that has the best chance of stopping their cancer in its tracks. For too many patients, treatment for metastatic cancer is not effective yet the side-effects can be devastating. We are extremely excited about the opportunity to bring patients the most effective treatment, and to learn much more about why some medicines work in some but not all situations”, says Janine Erler, Professor at the Biotech Research & Innovation Centre (BRIC), University of Copenhagen.

The project, which will be based at BRIC and Rigshospitalet, is in close collaboration with the pharmaceutical companies AstraZeneca, Roche A/S and MSD. BRIC contributes with extensive expertise within the field of metastasis, while the Rigshospitalet team has wide-ranging knowledge and experience in translating findings directly into the clinic to the patients who matter. The pharmaceutical partners contribute their access to a wide catalogue of anti-cancer medications, and their lengthy experience in research and innovation.

 

Pre-seed funding for anti-metastasis project

Erlerlab Nov 2016

We have been awarded a Pre-Seed grant by the Novo Nordisk Foundation

The majority of cancer deaths are caused when a primary cancer spreads to different parts of the body, so for a long time we have been interested in preventing this spread (called metastasis). The Novo Nordisk Foundation pre-seed grants are exploratory funds to develop new and life-saving technologies, and the foundation has awarded us a grant to develop new anti-metastatic therapies.

This exciting project means we’ll be recruiting a talented postdoc to join our team. If you’d like to know more information at this early stage, please get in touch (janine.erler@bric.ku.dk)