PhD student, project ABL-class

Function: PhD student, project ABL-class


At: the Princess Máxima Center for Pediatric Oncology, Utrecht.


For: The Den Boer group



The Princess Máxima Center for Pediatric Oncology is a new nationwide research hospital concentrating healthcare, research and education with regard to cancer in children and is located in Utrecht, Science Park de Uithof. The institute has the ambition to give the best treatment to children with cancer with the highest cure rate and the least side effects to (often complex) anti-cancer treatment. The center brings together the best possible care and scientific research, creating a unique interdisciplinary institute for pediatric oncology in Europe.

The research group of Prof. Monique den Boer (12-15fte) focusses on the discovery of new (genetic) lesions and targets for precision medicines to improve the clinical outcome for children with acute lymphoblastic leukemia. Our 25-year track record in preclinical/translational research has resulted in knowledge being implemented in new treatment protocols, and our journey continues to further improve the specificity of anti-leukemia treatment. We have expertise in so-called pathobiological studies addressing which (combination of) genetic lesions characterize the patients’ leukemia, how these lesions functionally contribute to therapy resistance and how these lesions affect the behavior of leukemic cells and the interaction with the bone marrow microenvironment. This information is essential to develop strategies that kill leukemic cells more specifically.

The research facilities are excellent and state-of-the-art in the new Princess Máxima Center. The Den Boer group routinely uses many molecular techniques including different next generation sequencing platforms, lentiviral transduction procedures, flow cytometry and sorting, CSLM imaging, migration assays, drug cytotoxicity studies and easily adapts to innovative technologies (CITE-sequencing, cell/organel-tracing, etcetera)


PhD-student project ABL-class

In about 6% of children with newly diagnosed ALL, genetic alterations are found which affect the Abl-oncogenic pathway. Key example is the BCR-ABL1 fusion leading to constitutive activation of PI3K/AKT and MEK signaling, which function can be inhibited by tyrosine kinase inhibitors (TKIs) such as Imatinib. Recently, other ABL-class fusion genes have been discovered. This new ABL-class group comprises fusions between the main driver genes ABL1, ABL2, PDGFRB and CSF1R and a range of over 30 different partner genes. Most of these cases have prognostic unfavorable risk characteristics such as high minimal residual disease levels after 4-weeks of treatment. We are interested in the underlying similarities and dissimilarities between BCR-ABL1 and ABL-class fusion positive leukemias and how these findings translate to the responsiveness to TKIs. To this aim, the PhD student will analyze molecular profiles of these cases, functionally study aberrant genes and determine the ex vivo efficacy and molecular causes of TKI resistance.


Education and skills

We are looking for a highly motivated PhD candidate with an MSc degree in Life Science, Biomedical Sciences or related studies. The PhD student should preferably have technical experience in molecular biology (e.g. cloning, viral transductions) and/or cell biology (flow cytometry, antibody-based technologies, imaging). Our group welcomes PhD students who have a natural level of scientific thinking and who are curious and eager to learn. The candidate should have excellent communicative skills and a good command of oral and written English. You are enthusiastic to present your data and share your knowledge in a multidisciplinary setting.


We offer

We offer a PhD project in an inspiring and inter-disciplinary research environment. The total duration of the project is 4 years (full-time). You will initially be appointed for a period of 1 year, and your performance will be evaluated by a training and supervision plan.

Salary according to FWG 45 increment 6 (for the 1st year, increased to FWG 45 increment 10 in case of renewal). The Princess Máxima Center operates according to the collective labor agreement ‘cao algemene ziekenhuizen’.


Contact and application:

You can apply for this position until April 15th by pressing the apply button on this screen.

We welcome you to contact Prof.dr. Monique den Boer (

for additional information about the vacancy.

Detailed information about the Princess Máxima Center for Pediatric Oncology can also be found at

Acquisitie naar aanleiding van deze vacature wordt niet op prijs gesteld.

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