Call for applications / PhD in cancer biology

29.4.2021 | Avoimet työpaikat


The Cancer Biology laboratories of Klaus Elenius and Kari Kurppa are looking for a doctoral candidate to join a collaborative project.

Research Project

The two laboratories, led by the principal investigators Professor Klaus Elenius, MD/PhD and Dr. Kari J. Kurppa, PhD, aim to develop novel means to specifically target cancer cell signaling and drug resistance. Our special interest lies in the mechanisms that enable the establishment of minimal residual disease, or govern the maintenance of residual tumors following targeted cancer therapy. The overarching goal of our research is to develop rational combination strategies that will extend the long-term efficacy of clinically used cancer therapies.

Clinical drug resistance is often preceded by minimal residual disease state, where residual tumors stay dormant for an extended period of time. It is becoming increasingly evident that the establishment of minimal residual disease is mainly regulated by non-genetic mechanisms, as cancer cells adapt to treatment by acquiring new phenotypic states that no longer depend on the targeted oncogene. Recent research in our laboratories has demonstrated that a ligand/receptor axis composed of ERBB receptors and their ligands is a key regulator of cancer cell drug tolerance. The doctoral candidate’s research will build upon these findings and address the mechanisms of ERBB activation upon targeted therapy. The project also includes a drug development arm aiming at developing a novel inhibitor to specifically block the ERBB-mediated drug tolerance pathway. The approach takes advantage of the long experience of the Elenius lab in the cancer biology and targeting of the ERBB receptors, as well as of the unique understanding of the Kurppa lab of the molecular mechanisms underlying tumor dormancy and drug tolerance.


Successful applicants should have a MSc or equivalent degree in a relevant field. Excellent academic performance and knowledge of written and spoken English are required. Prior experience on systems and basic laboratory methodologies in the field of biomedicine, e.g. in vitro cancer model and omics analyses, is desired. The applicant should demonstrate the skills needed in the research area (e.g. from MSc thesis work) and motivation for doctoral studies.

The applicant should familiarize with pension insurance and taxation regulations for recipients of scientific grants and scholarships. The doctoral candidate is expected to enroll in a PhD program in the next call.


The research of the doctoral candidates will be initially funded for a period of three years by Cancer Foundation Finland by monthly personal grants.

How to apply

>> Link to application form

Please, include in your application a motivation letter and a CV with at least two references.

The deadline for applications is May 3, 2021 (11:59 PM UTC+3). Preferable starting date is May 17, 2021, but due to the COVID-19 situation, the starting date is negotiable.

For any inquiries, please contact Klaus Elenius, klaus.elenius[a]utu.fi or Kari Kurppa, kjkurp[a]utu.fi.