Senior Laboratory Technician

24/01/23

Location

Leuven, Belgium

Vacancy

The laboratory of Angiogenesis and Vascular Metabolism headed by Prof. Peter Carmeliet is one of the laboratories of the Center for Cancer Biology (VIB-KU Leuven CCB), a research department of VIB (Flanders Institute for Biotechnology) located in the Oncology Department at the KU Leuven (Campus Gasthuisberg, Leuven, Belgium).

The lab recently started a twin lab, the laboratory for Angiogenesis and Vascular Heterogeneity, at the Department of Biomedicine at Aarhus University (Denmark) (https://pure.au.dk/portal/da/pecar@biomed.au.dk) which is closely intertwined with the lab at the VIB-KU Leuven CCB (https://carmelietlab.sites.vib.be/en). Both the Leuven and new Aarhus lab function as one virtual lab, and synergistically combine their joint forces and focus to study similar fundamental questions in vascular biology and angiogenesis, and to develop more efficiently new vascular medicine.

Prof. Carmeliet has an open position for a Senior Laboratory Technician in the Aarhus lab. You will be trained first in the Leuven lab. Once the training is completed you will move to the Aarhus lab to transfer your acquired knowledge & set up experiments. You will be the key person to ensure a close link between both labs. You will continuously interact with and be trained by/ informed via the Leuven lab. The Department of Biomedicine at Aarhus University employs >450 people and covers a range of research areas within Biomedicine. The infrastructure is well-developed with modern laboratories, expertise units, and animal facilities. You will work in the brand new ‘Skou Building’.

Background project

The Laboratory of Angiogenesis and Vascular Metabolism headed by Prof. Peter Carmeliet focuses on the development of blood vessels (angiogenesis) and vascular heterogeneity in health and disease, with the ultimate aim to identify novel therapeutic vascular-based strategies.

The Carmeliet lab explores the innovative concept that endothelial cells (ECs), which line blood vessels, play a more important role in immune responses than previously anticipated. Recent projects, combining single-cell transcriptomics with bulk multi-omics (transcriptomics, (epi)-genomics, proteomics & metabolomics) revealed novel insights in EC heterogeneity in health and disease. The Carmeliet lab is now using these insights to design novel therapeutic strategies, in part to develop an alternative immunotherapy strategy for cancer (based on targeting immunosuppressive mystery genes in ECs) and to develop novel immunotherapies for vascular disorders, characterized by vascular inflammation and EC dysfunction (diabetes, ischemia/reperfusion (also relevant for organ transplantation rejection), etc), based on targeting immunostimulatory genes in ECs.

The lab developed – and uses – innovative integrated approaches (e.g. scRNA-sequencing, artificial intelligence (AI)/machine learning-based tools, multi-omics analysis) to efficiently discover new, biologically important, and therapeutically attractive targets. The ultimate goal is to bring promising validated scientific targets, upon translation, to the level of drug development. In the meantime, the Carmeliet lab has successfully discovered and validated multiple mystery genes, some of which are now being considered for drug development. The project is conducted in a multidisciplinary environment at the interface of an academic and clinical environment, where animal surgery expertise and clinical samples are available. See below for more information concerning the research group and project details.

Job Description

The lab is looking for a motivated Senior Laboratory Technician to support the discovery of new therapeutic targets (using bulk/single cell multi-omics) and to bridge the valley of death (by functionally validating these targets). As part of our translational research team, you will interact with a dynamic and experienced team of laboratory technicians. We are looking for dynamic and flexible candidates, who are willing to step into new adventures, dare to break new grounds outside of their comfort zone, are passionate about opportunities to bridge the Valley of Death (see below), are not shy of diving into new fields, are primed and eager to become acquainted with new technologies (e.g., artificial intelligence, drug target validation, etc.), and are prepared to go the extra mile. Candidates should be able to work independently, but in close consultation with Prof. Carmeliet and his senior staff. You are sufficiently mature to interact with other colleagues via in-person and virtual meetings and to communicate in a professional manner.

Key Accountabilities

  • Performing cell culture techniques: isolation and culture of endothelial cells and other cell types from surgical samples (human and mouse).
  • Single-cell library preparation and sequencing.
  • Executing: western blotting, PCR, quantitative PCR, Fluorescence-activated cell sorting (FACS), etc.
  • Histology: fixation, embedding, cutting (vibratome or cryostat), and (immuno)staining of human and murine tissue.
  • Imaging and analysis of tissue slides.
  • Assisting and/or performing animal experiments.
  • Molecular biology assays (e.g., viral transduction experiments, siRNA transfection).
  • Ordering of products, consumables, and devices. Follow-up deliveries. Stock management.
  • Keep laboratory and equipment clean and organized to ensure safety in the laboratory.
  • Communicating and reporting laboratory results in a professional manner and in digital format (e.g. excel) & participate in seminars.
  • Support scientists daily, between multiple disciplines, and ensure continuity.
  • Organize and troubleshoot practical work independently.

Your profile

  • Candidates have a Bachelor/ Master’s degree in one of the following: laboratory technologies, biotechnology, biology, biomedicine, pharmacy, or related fields – vascular/immunology expertise is an advantage, but not mandatory.
  • You have solid experience as a laboratory technician in a research lab environment (>4-5 years). 
  • Proven experience in molecular biology, cell culture, biochemistry work, and/or other techniques
  • Candidates are familiar with Microsoft Word and Excel.
  • Experience in histology, imaging, and animal surgery will be considered an advantage.
  • Extra added values are: interest in (i) integrating single-cell multi-omics; (ii) competence/interest in analysing and integrating omics- and clinical datasets; (iii) target validation assays
  • You are interested and motivated to work on ambitious projects in an open, dynamic, competitive, and driven team.
  • You are flexible and willing to learn new technologies.
  • You maintain excellent organizational skills; you can work in a team as well as independently.
  • You are accurate and critical of your work and its implementation
  • You have a strong ability to multi-task and meet timelines
  • Good English communication skills, both oral and written, are expected.

We offer

  • The unique opportunity to work in a dynamic, multidisciplinary, and international team (in Aarhus-Leuven) where passion for innovation, team spirit, and continuous improvement of novel drug therapies, are part of our main goals.
  • Access to, and training in, state-of-the-art technologies in biomedical research. The Leuven lab has multiple core facilities, with expertise in cell culture, FACS, metabolomics, (single cell) genomics/ transcriptomics, bioinformatics, animal surgery, mouse transgenesis, immunohistochemistry & in situ hybridisation (RNAscope), and imaging (https://vibcancer.be/expertise-centers).
  • You can expect a varied job in an international atmosphere.
  • Excellent training conditions within a team of experts where personal development is strongly encouraged. Opportunities will cross your path, enabling you to keep on developing your career.
  • We aim for a candidate with long-term career perspectives.
  • Starting as soon as possible.

The Project & Group

The Carmeliet lab recently started a twin lab at the Department of Biomedicine of Aarhus University in Aarhus, Denmark (https://pecar@biomed.au.dk), which is closely intertwined with the lab at VIB-KU Leuven, Belgium (https://carmelietlab.sites.vib.be/en). The Leuven and Aarhus lab will function as one virtual lab, and synergistically combine their joint forces and focus to study similar fundamental questions in vascular biology, and to develop more efficiently new vascular medicine. There will be frequent interactions and exchanges of junior/senior scientists and lab technicians between both labs, offering unique opportunities for multi-disciplinary training at both locations. Complementary settings and conditions at each location will create unprecedented extra-added opportunities to increase the research output and translational development quantitatively and qualitatively at a higher level.

The Aarhus and Leuven labs apply their expertise and therapeutic focus to evaluate and to develop novel therapeutic concepts into clinical development with the ambition to change the life of patients with vasculature-related disorders. Standard gene modulation strategies (conditional gene targeting) are exploited as well as sophisticated novel disruptive high-throughput multi-omics approaches (bulk and scRNAseq, scATAC, etc.) and computational modelling and biology (AI/machine learning), both for hypothesis-generating and hypothesis-testing purposes. For instance, recent successful efforts in generating a single-cell transcriptome atlas of ECs from various healthy and pathological (including tumor) tissues from preclinical models and clinical patient samples revealed the existence of previously unknown EC subtypes, including ECs with a putative immune-modulatory role (termed “IMECs”). In addition, we developed novel AI-based tools to predict mystery genes in ECs, which we use to develop alternative therapeutic strategies.

A major challenge of current medical research is to translate the obtained high-profile insights into new medicine. Pharma is not interested in early-stage scientific results (even when published in high-profile journals) because of the risk that these candidates are insufficiently validated for drug development, while academic scientists generally lack funds to provide more validation to bridge this gap ("the valley of death"). We aspire to not only discover more new therapeutic targets but also to "bridge the valley of death" in order to improve drug development by applying in-house developed, less expensive novel approaches for target validation at a rapid pace and throughput. Spinning out a start-up company belongs to future options (as we did in the past with Montis Biosciences; see https://www.montisbio.com).

How to apply?

Applications for this position should be submitted online. If you have questions about this position, please contact Prof. Peter Carmeliet: peter.carmeliet@kuleuven.be or Katie Van Geyte: katie.vangeyte@kuleuven.be.