|Salary:||Competitive with benefits, subject to skills and experience|
|Placed On:||22nd July 2021|
|Closes:||18th August 2021|
Julian Downward’s laboratory (Oncogene Biology) investigates the mechanisms by which mutant oncogenes drive the transformation of cells to a malignant cancerous state and how understanding this better can promote more effective approaches to treating cancer in the clinic. We particularly focus on the RAS family of oncogenes, which are the most frequently mutated oncogenic drivers in human cancer. The first drug that targets a RAS protein, sotorasib, has very recently been approved for clinical use in lung cancer. We are interested in exploring the interplay between RAS oncogene signaling and the control of the tumour immune microenvironment with the aim of improving therapies for RAS mutant tumours. We are seeking a talented and motivated postdoctoral research fellow with experience in tumour immunology to join our group.
Despite huge advances in our understanding of the mechanisms involved in the subversion of cellular growth regulation in cancer, therapeutic agents targeting growth regulatory pathways have often proved disappointing in the clinic for the treatment of advanced cancers. Even agents that are initially highly effective, such as EGFR or BRAF inhibitors in lung cancer or melanoma bearing activating mutations in these oncogenes, have failed to provide long-term benefit due to the evolution of drug resistance. In order to move beyond treatments that only delay advanced cancers for a few months or, at best, years, we need to understand how to eradicate tumour cells completely, not leaving minor populations that go on to develop drug resistance and cause disease relapse. A very interesting area of investigation in this regard is that of immunotherapy. Tumours have to find ways to avoid recognition as foreign by the immune system, and over the past decade remarkable response rates have been achieved using immune checkpoint inhibitors as immunotherapies in certain advanced cancers. This has illustrated how efficiently immune surveillance is suppressed locally by tumours and how powerful the intrinsic anti-tumour response can be if this suppression can be overcome. However, response rates to immunotherapies are highly variable and it is still unclear how these therapies can be combined to best effect with existing treatments.
The Francis Crick Institute is a biomedical discovery institute dedicated to understanding the fundamental biology underlying health and disease. Its work is helping to understand why disease develops and to translate discoveries into new ways to prevent, diagnose and treat illnesses such as cancer, heart disease, stroke, infections, and neurodegenerative diseases.
An independent organisation, its founding partners are the Medical Research Council (MRC), Cancer Research UK, Wellcome, UCL (University College London), Imperial College London and King’s College London.
It was formed in 2015, and in 2016 it moved into a new state-of-the-art building in central London which brings together 1500 scientists and support staff working collaboratively across disciplines, making it the biggest biomedical research facility under in one building in Europe.
The Francis Crick Institute will be world-class with a strong national role. Its distinctive vision for excellence includes commitments to collaboration; developing emerging talent and exporting it the rest of the UK; public engagement; and helping turn discoveries into treatments as quickly as possible to improve lives and strengthen the economy.
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