Project number 19

Using brain implants and single-cell genomics to trace tumour heterogeneity and therapy response during glioblastoma progression

Cancer cells can change their gene expression profile during the progression of the disease, and such cellular state switching is often independent of mutations. This regulatory heterogeneity is particularly prominent in glioblastoma multiforme (GBM), and has important implications for therapy response, because some cell states may be more sensitive or resistant to a particular drug. 
To understand transcriptional state changes in GBM, you will use a newly designed, implantable microfluidic device (Haesler lab @ NERF) to continuously sample cancer cells and cerebrospinal fluid during the progression and treatment in a GBM mouse model. At the Aerts lab you will perform single-cell transcriptomics and single-cell epigenomics using droplet microfluidics (lab-on-a-chip), next-generation sequencing, and integrative bioinformatics analysis. Using machine-learning techniques, this approach will ultimately enable predictive models, and pave the way towards personalized therapy regimes.
Profile: You have a degree in biology, biomedicine, bio-engineering, biotechnology, nanotechnology, or similar. Experience with microfluidic devices and/or bioinformatics is not required, but is considered as a plus.

Keywords
single-cell genomics, neurobiology, microfluidics, bioinformatics, glioblastoma

Supervisors
Sebastian Haesler, Neuro-Electronics Research Flanders, Imec, Leuven
Stein Aerts, VIB Center for the Biology of Disease, KU Leuven, Leuven