Training Network for Optimizing adoptive T cell Therapy of Cancer



ITN T-OP Training Network for Optimizing Adoptive T cell Therapy of Cancer, funded by the Marie Skłodowska-Curie program, H2020 with Grant Agreement no 955575.

Who we are

T-OP – Training Network for Optimizing Adoptive T cell Therapy of Cancer is an Initial Training Network funded by the European Union. It started on March 1st 2021 has a duration of four years. The network comprises 17 partners, from academy, industry and public authority, located in seven different countries.

Scientific scope

T-OP aims at improving the efficacy and production of cell therapies. It will enable future experts to develop new therapeutic solutions providing them with a program of excellence.

Over the last years, immunotherapy – using a patient’s own immune system to fight tumours – has emerged as an important complement to standard treatments. The clinical implementation of immunotherapeutics has established T cells as efficient anti-cancer weapons if targeted by specific drugs. Their therapeutic utilization has recently come to a breakthrough: adoptive T cell therapy (ACT), collecting and transforming the patient’s own T cells to treat cancer.

The generation of such ACT products is a complex but ill-defined process with limited harmonization across production and clinical studies, even for the same indication. Cytokines are a key element of these products as they are responsible for the growth and differentiation of T-cells.

There is however a limited understanding as to which cytokines might lead to the best outcome on any of these steps. T-OP targets a pioneering research question: how do cytokines influence the therapeutic outcome of ACT products? T-OP brings together interdisciplinary and cross-sectorial teams spanning large and small-sized companies as well as experts in different aspects of cell therapy, immunology, protein engineering and bioinformatics.

We offer: Cutting edge research projects and training with leading experts in the field of cell therapy; employment contract for three years with the benefits of the EU Marie Skłodowska-Curie program with the possibility of earning a doctoral degree (PhD or equivalent).

We seek: Excellent scientists with a Master's degree or equivalent in natural sciences or related disciplines (such as medicine or pharmacy); practical skills in modern laboratory work, preferentially combined with experience in animal experiments.

Your profile: You must be within your first four years of research experience after completion of your Master's degree or equivalent; you cannot hold a doctoral degree (except medical doctor) at the time of recruitment; you cannot have spent more than 12 months within the past 36 months in the country where the position you are applying for is located (mobility rule); you must be proficient in the English language both written and spoken (proof required).

Open positions:

  • Project 1 (ESR1): Analysis of the influence of cytokine stimulation on ACT safety. In Germany, Munich, at Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität, supervised by Sebastian Kobold
  • Project 2 (ESR2): Functional stimulation of T cells using artificial antigen scaffolds for T cell expansion. In Denmark, Copenhagen, at Danmarks Tekniske Universitet, supervised by Sine Reker Hadrup
  • Project 3 (ESR3): Cytokine requirements for efficient expansion of peripheral blood and tumour-derived mucosal associated invariant T (MAIT) cells for ACT of cancer. In the Netherlands, Amsterdam, at Stichting VUMC, supervised by Tanja D. de Gruijl
  • Project 4 (ESR4): Enhancing effector CD4 T cell polarization for ACT of cancer. In France, Dijon, at Institut National de la Santé et de la Recherche Médicale (INSERM), supervised by Lionel Apetoh
  • Project 5 (ESR5): Generation of CAR T cells under minimally activating conditions. In Germany, Langen, at Paul-Ehrlich-Institut, Bundesinstitut für Impfstoffe und biomedizinische Arzneimittel, supervised by Jessica Hartmann
  • Project 6 (ESR6): Therapeutic potential of MerTK signalling in T cells for cancer therapy. In Denmark, Copenhagen, at Region Hovedstaden, University Hospital Herlev, supervised by Per Thor Straten
  • Project 7 (ESR7): Improvement of tumour-infiltrating lymphocyte expansion for adoptive cell therapy. In Switzerland, Basel, at University of Basel, supervised by Heinz Läubli and Alfred Zippelius
  • Project 8 (ESR8): Chimeric cytokine receptors for ACT of cancer. In Germany, Munich, at Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität, supervised by Sebastian Kobold
  • Project 9 (ESR9): Designer cytokine receptors for ACT of cancer. In Switzerland, Zurich, at Roche Glycart AG, Roche Innovation Center Zurich, supervised by Christian Klein
  • Project 10 (ESR10): Evaluation of strategies to enhance the efficacy of tumour infiltrating lymphocyte (TIL) therapy. In Great Britain, Manchester, at Instil Bio, team lead by Robert Hawkins with the supervisory team: Richard Edmondson, Professor of Gynaecological Oncology, University of Manchester; Anne Armstrong, Consultant/Senior Lecturer in Medical Oncology, University of Manchester/Christie Hospital; Gray Kueberuwa, Director of Research, Instil Bio UK and Jamie Honeychurch, Senior Lecturer, University of Manchester
  • Project 11 (ESR11): Impact of the gut microbiome in maintenance or activation of ACT in cancer. In France, Paris, at Communauté d’universités et d’établissements Université Paris Saclay, supervised by Laurence Zitvogel
  • Project 12 (ESR12): Metabolic reprograming of adoptively transferred T cells by tumour-derived cytokine networks. In Germany, Munich, at Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität, supervised by Sebastian Theurich and Michael von Bergwelt
  • Project 13 (ESR13): Development of novel analytical models to study and improve CAR T cell response in pancreatic tumour-microenvironment. In Germany, Bergisch Gladbach, at Miltenyi Biotec GmbH, supervised by Andrew Kaiser
  • Project 14 (ESR14): β2-adrenergic receptor signalling in T cell function. In Denmark, Copenhagen, at Region Hovedstaden, University Hospital Herlev, supervised by Per Thor Straten
  • Project 15 (ESR15): Targeting immune receptor SLAMF6 in transferred T lymphocytes for improved T cell therapies. In Israel, Jerusalem, Hadassah Medical Organization, supervised by Michal Lotem.

Application procedure

The two-stage application procedure will be carried out in compliance with the Code of Conduct for Recruitment and the Charter for Researchers.

  • The first stage consists of sending your documents and filling out the required information within the application portal of T-OP by Friday April 30th, 2021. Please note that we will only evaluate fully completed application forms that are submitted via the application portal of T-OP before the deadline. 
  • Second stage: Selected candidates from the first stage will be invited for interview, possibly remotely, with the supervisor of the position for which the candidates have applied.

Criteria of selection

The same procedure and criteria of selection will apply for all positions. 

1. First stage of selection: 

a. Eligibility check carried out by T-OP management team:

  • The candidates are in the first four years* (full-time equivalent research experience) of their research careers and have not been awarded a doctoral degree (except medical doctor).
  • The candidates must not have resided or carried out their main activity (work, studies, etc.) in the country of their host organisation for more than 12 months in the 3 years immediately prior to his/her recruitment.
    *is measured from the date when a researcher obtained the degree which would formally entitle him or her to embark on a doctorate, either in the country in which the degree was obtained or in the country in which the researcher is recruited, irrespective of whether or not a doctorate is or was ever envisaged.

Solely the candidates that comply with the criteria of eligibility will be assessed by the supervisors.

b. Assessment of the application forms by the Project Leaders and their team supervising the position which has been selected as first choice by the candidates:

  • Quality of education (degrees and transcript) 
  • Education matching to the skills required 
  • Quality of research experience
  • Research experience matching to required skills 
  • Quality of language skills 
  • Quality of references 
  • General evaluation of profile based on motivations and personal skills 
  • Experience of Mobility (geographical, sectoral, virtual) 

The Project Leaders of T-OP will have the opportunity to assess candidates that have selected their projects as second or third choice. This will depend on the needs of the evaluation. 

2. Second stage of selection:

  • Quality of the presentation
  • General evaluation of profile depending on motivations and personal skills
  • References

Deadline for applications: April 30, 2021

More information about T-OP: