PhD scholarship in Mapping of CD8 T Cell Recognition to SARS-Cov-2 and the Role of T-Cell Cross-Recognition

Monday 12 Oct 20

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A PhD position is available in the Section of Experimental and Translational Immunology (xTI), Dept. of Health Technology, at the Technical University of Denmark (DTU). 

In the Section of Experimental and Translational Immunology, we are focusing on understanding immune regulation, recognitions and signaling to unravel disease mechanism, and translate immunological finding into therapeutic strategies via design of nanomaterial to actively engage or manipulate the immune system. We are also working on biosensors to effective readout hazardous substances. 

The present project will be conducted in the research group ‘T cells & Cancer’, under supervision of Professor Sine Reker Hadrup. Immunotherapy has revolutionized cancer treatment, but clinical benefit remains only for a subset of patients. We are devoted to develop strategies for cancer-specific T cell targeting to improve the efficacy and limit toxicity for T cell therapies. 

In this project we will investigate the T cell recognition of the SARS-Cov2 virus, and the relationship with COVID19 disease.  We will furthermore investigate the T cell cross reactivity and molecular mimicry between previous infection and SARS-Cov2 virus. This will finally be used as a model for T cross-reactivity of relevance in recognition of cancer antigens. 

Responsibilities and tasks
On the basis of blood samples collected from COVD19 patients, the PhD student will be involved for an in-depth analyses of the T cell responses observed against SARS-Cov2-derived peptides. 

ey question to address:

  • Mapping the T cell epitopes in SARS-Cov2
  • Desribe the T cell phenotype and functional charateristics
  • Understand potential T cell ediffences relating to disease outcome
  • Describe the structural overlap (molecular mimicry) between common viral epitopes and those from SARS-Cov2
  • Model T cell-cross reactivity, to understand the rolefor shaping T cell responsiveness to future infections or cancer
  • Apply the rules for T cell cross reactivity towards cancer antigens

Experimental methods & taks:

  • Build large pMHC multimer libraries for T cell screening
  • Apply multicolor flow cytometry analyses
  • T cell culturing and functional evaluations
  • Murine models to evaluate the effect of molecular mimicry

Candidates should have a two-year master's degree (120 ECTS points) or a similar degree with an academic level equivalent to a two-year master's degree. 

Be trained in: 

  • Immunology: T cell recognition, antigen presentation & T cell epitope mapping
  • Expression and folding of MHC monomers. QC and validation testing
  • MHC mulitmer generation – fluorescence and DNA barcode labelled MHC multimers
  • Large library pMHC multimer screening
  • Flow cytometry
  • Analyses of antigen-specific T cells
  • Multicolor flow cytometry
  • Apply analytical and statistical tools to identify patterns in large datasets

The candidate should demonstrate evidence of self-driven and independent research capability, excellent collaboration and communication skills, an interest in working in an interdisciplinary research environment, and a strong motivation to succeed within a competitive research field. 

Approval and Enrolment 
The scholarship for the PhD degree is subject to academic approval, and the candidate will be enrolled in one of the general degree programmes at DTU. For information about our enrolment requirements and the general planning of the PhD study programme, please see the DTU PhD Guide

We offer
DTU is a leading technical university globally recognized for the excellence of its research, education, innovation and scientific advice. We offer a rewarding and challenging job in an international environment. We strive for academic excellence in an environment characterized by collegial respect and academic freedom tempered by responsibility. 

Salary and appointment terms 
The appointment will be based on the collective agreement with the Danish Confederation of Professional Associations. The allowance will be agreed upon with the relevant union. The period of employment is 3 years. Employment will start as soon as possible. 

The position is supported by the ‘Independent Research fund Denmark’.  

You can read more about career paths at DTU here

Further information
Further information may be obtained from Professor Sine Reker Hadrup,

You can read more about the Department of Health Technology at

Please submit your online application no later than 26 October 2020 (local time)Applications must be submitted as one PDF file containing all materials to be given consideration. To apply, please open the link "Apply online", fill out the online application form, and attach all your materials in English in one PDF file. The file must include:

  • A letter motivating the application (cover letter)
  • Curriculum vitae
  • Grade transcripts and BSc/MSc diploma
  • Excel sheet with translation of grades to the Danish grading system (see guidelines and Excel spreadsheet here)

Candidates may apply prior to ob­tai­ning their master's degree but cannot begin before having received it.

Applications and enclosures received after the deadline will not be considered. 

All interested candidates irrespective of age, gender, race, disability, religion or ethnic background are encouraged to apply. 

DTU Health Tech engages in research, education, and innovation base on technical and natural science for the healthcare sector. The Healthcare sector is a globally expanding market with demands for the most advanced technological solutions. DTU Health Tech creates the foundation for companies to develop new and innovative services and products which benefit people and create value for society. DTU Health Techs expertise spans from imaging and biosensor techniques, across digital health and biological modelling, to biopharma technologies. The department has a scientific staff of about 175 persons, 130 PhD students and a technical/administrative support staff of about 80 persons.

Technology for people 
DTU develops technology for people. With our international elite research and study programmes, we are helping to create a better world and to solve the global challenges formulated in the UN’s 17 Sustainable Development Goals. Hans Christian Ørsted founded DTU in 1829 with a clear vision to develop and create value using science and engineering to benefit society. That vision lives on today. DTU has 12,000 students and 6,000 employees. We work in an international atmosphere and have an inclusive, evolving, and informal working environment. Our main campus is in Kgs. Lyngby north of Copenhagen and we have campuses in Roskilde and Ballerup and in Sisimiut in Greenland.