MSc thesis at Max Planck Institute & TU Berlin: Breast cancer cell cycle progression in bone marrow-on-a-chip (BM-on-a-chip)

MSc thesis


Stellenangebot vom 7. Oktober 2020

Background: Biotechnology, Biomedical Engineering, Biomedicine or Biology

Investigation of breast cancer cell cycle progression within a 3D bone marrow-mimicking microfluidic environment to understand their interactions with host cells and their niche.

As part of the metastatic process, cancer cells detach from the primary tumor and colonize secondary organs in the body, the bone marrow (BM) being among the favorites. Importantly, outgrowth of these disseminated tumor cells (DTC) might occur either shortly after homing or with delays ranging from years to decades, this last also called “dormancy”. It has long been viewed that soluble biochemical signals might orchestrate such proliferation-dormancy decisions; nonetheless, increasing evidence points towards the role of biophysical cues. In addition, recent notions postulate that DTCs might interact with local hematopoietic stem cells (HSC) either by sharing the same cues for engraftment and mobilization or by competing for the same BM space. We aim to understand such interactions by taking advantage of a recently developed BM-on-a-chip system which consists of primary mesenchymal stromal cells (MSC) cultured on 3D scaffolds and allows long-term culture of HSCs in a three dimensional microenvironment 1. The project will involve culturing fluorescently labelled breast cancer cells for spatio-temporal and real time visualization of cell cycle dynamics within the BM-on-a-chip system. The two main aspects in which we are interested are: a) DTCs-BM extracellular microenvironment and b) DTCs-HSCs interactions in the BM-on-a-chip system. Exploratory analysis will involve fluorescence, confocal and eventual electron microscopy together with FACS analyses and immunostaining.

You should have a background in biotechnology, biomedical engineering, biomedicine, biology or similar. Previous experience with cell culture will be highly valuable, but not essential. The project will be carried out at the Max Planck Institute of Colloids and Interfaces and the Institute for Biotechnology at TU Berlin in the groups of Dr Amaia Cipitria and Dr Mark Rosowski, respectively.

Please send your application including a motivation letter, your CV and a transcript of your university record to: and . Please indicate “Master thesis –Breast cancer cell cycle progression in BM-on-a-chip” in the subject line. The project can start between October-December 2020. The working language is English.

Dr Amaia Cipitria (Emmy Noether Group Leader) and Sadra Bakhshandeh (Doctoral researcher), Dept. of Biomaterials, Max Planck Institute of Colloids and Interfaces, Golm, Potsdam.

Sieber, S. et al.
Bone marrow-on-a-chip: Long-term culture of human haematopoietic stem cells in a three-dimensional microfluidic environment.
J. Tissue Eng. Regen. Med. 12, 479–489 (2018).

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