Postdoctoral Research Fellow (Vacant Position for Seyed Javad Moghaddam’s Laboratory)

The University of Texas M. D. Anderson Cancer Center

Houston, TX

Job posting number: #7081084

Posted: July 13, 2021

Application Deadline: Open Until Filled

Job Description

Program Description:
Lung adenocarcinoma (LUAD), is still the leading cause of cancer mortality. Unfortunately, lung cancer patients harboring activating mutations of K-ras, which are heavily associated with tobacco exposure and poor prognosis, are resistant to most forms of systemic or targeted therapies. This fact clearly indicates that there is an urgent unmet need for alternative strategies targeting downstream effectors of K-ras and/or its cooperating pathways for treatment and prevention of K-ras mutant LUAD (KM-LUAD). Accordingly, our research program is focused on airway inflammation, intrinsic (e.g. oncogene driven) and extrinsic (e.g. smoke or infection induced), and its role in airway epithelial tumorigenesis. It is known that mutant epithelial cells begin to edit the microenvironment as soon as they transform but the exact mechanisms involved in this immuno-editing process from escaping the immunosurveillance to tumor progression and contribution of pro-tumor inflammatory signals in this process still not well understood. Our laboratory has developed and interrogated various human-relevant mouse models that closely emulate the molecular pathobiology of human airway inflammation, COPD, and lung cancer. We have previously shown that a network of immunomodulatory cytokines released during inflammation promotes lung tumorigenesis by providing a pro-tumor lung microenvironment in a genetic mouse model of lung cancer with K-ras mutation. We have further shown that targeting inflammatory pathways and modulating this cytokine network could be used as a preventive and therapeutic strategy for KM-LUAD. We are currently dissecting the cell-specific autocrine and paracrine mechanisms responsible for this phenomenon. We employ genetic and pharmacologic targeting interventions, immunophenotyping, histopathology, single-cell RNA sequencing, and other RNA- and protein-based approaches to study the effect of targeting these pathways on tumor cells and changes in immunomodulatory responses in vivo that could affect the pathogenesis of KM-LUAD. These studies have the potential to detect and target important immunomodulatory pathways in the lung tumor cells and infiltrating immune cells, which could have major impacts on personalized prevention and treatment of lung cancer. They will also lay the groundwork to develop predictive and prognostic biomarkers to identify responders and non-responders.

Function: Carrying out studies of lung inflammatory microenvironment and its role in the pathogenesis and promotion of lung cancer.

Scope: Enhance our understanding of inflammatory tumor microenvironment and immune-regulatory pathways in lung cancer and identify means to prevent progress from premalignant phase to malignant phase, and increase the efficacy of currently available immunotherapeutic modalities.

1. Prepares and conducts in vivo studies of lung inflammation and lung cancer using mouse models, including breeding mutant mouse strains, and delivering treatments to mice.
2. Prepares and conducts ex vivo/in situ histologic analyses using the following techniques: animal dissection, tissue fixation, paraffin embedding, cryofixation, tissue sectioning (paraffin and frozen), histochemistry, immunohistochemistry, and immunofluorescence staining.
3. Performs microscopic and morphometric image analyses of histological specimens.
4. Constructs, assembles, and operates laboratory apparatus and equipment including thermocyclers, agarose gel electrophoresis units, nebulizers/gas compressors, and spectrophotometers.
5. Isolates, extracts, purifies, and analyzes mouse genomic DNA for genotyping purposes using PCR.
6. Isolates, extracts, purifies, and analyzes mouse RNA for purposes of gene expression analysis.
7. Cell sorting and flow cytometry of lung infiltrating immune cells.
8. Protein extraction and performing the protein based assays including ELISA and Western Blot.
9. Reads literature relevant to lung inflammation, to lung cancer biology, to epithelial and immune cell function and/or to laboratory methods.
10. The employee must communicate freely and clearly, and must confer with superiors regarding new procedures and modify them according to the needs of the project.
11. Records and evaluates data obtained in accordance with methods requested and confers with superiors regarding results obtained.
12. Analyze data, prepare graphs, figures, and help in writing and submitting the manuscript.

1. Presents data in formal Laboratory Meetings (quarterly).
2. Presents papers in Laboratory Journal Club Meetings (quarterly).
3. Present data in national and international meetings in form of poster or podium talk.

Received: Scientific Mentor and Technical supervisor.
Given: Laboratory Assistants, undergrad and grad students.

Required: PhD

Required: Basic molecular biology and immunology techniques are required. Work experience with small rodents is a plus.

The laboratory environment may involve occasional exposure to hazardous equipment and materials. The position will require animal handling (mice), as well as occasional handling of hazardous materials (bacteria lysate and cigarette smoke) with proper personal protective equipment. Usage and safety training will be given.

It is the policy of The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center to provide equal employment opportunity without regard to race, color, religion, age, national origin, sex, gender, sexual orientation, gender identity/expression, disability, protected veteran status, genetic information, or any other basis protected by institutional policy or by federal, state or local laws unless such distinction is required by law.

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