Tata Trusts research fellowship in pancreatic cancer

Applications are invited from eligible candidates for the position of a Research Fellow in pancreatic cancer. This is a sponsored fellowship by Tata Trusts in partnership with Tata Memorial Centre for 2 basic research projects on hypoxia and organoids in pancreatic cancer.

Tata Memorial Centre treats significant number pancreatic cancer patients each year and is one of the highest volume pancreatic cancer surgery centres in India. Clinical team at TMH performs around 150 major pancreatic resections each year. This fellowship offers unique opportunity for the fellow to join experienced research team at TMH and ACTREC and work on the research projects focused on pancreatic cancer and develop in depth understanding of the molecular research and research methodology.

Duration: Maximum of two years.

Eligibility: Age less than 35 years with MCh /DNB Surgical Oncology or MCh / DNB GI surgery or MS General surgery with 3 years’ experience in HPB surgery with a proven research interest in GI / Pancreatic Cancer OR Candidates with age less than 35 years with PhD degree in any branch of Biological Sciences with laboratory experience in molecular biology, cell biology, with a minimum of 3- 4 year post-doctoral research experience and good publication record. Candidates with experience in genomics, bioinformatics and cell culture assays and their application in pancreatic/GI cancers would be preferred.

Fellowship Emoluments: Rs1,50,000 a month for 24 months, a research database/journal total allowance of Rs50,000 for 24 months and a travel grant totalling Rs500,000 (which may be relaxed if considered necessary).

Study Proposals in brief

Study 1 – Hypoxia project
Title – Role of surgery induced hypoxia in resectable periampullary and pancreatic adenocarcinoma undergoing pancreaticoduodenectomy and its correlation with changes in cell biology.

Outline of the study
Hypoxia is a condition of low oxygen tension, caused by a combination of poor perfusion partly due to desmoplastic stroma and increased oxygen demand due to tumour growth. Intra-tumour hypoxia has emerged as a key role player in various solid tumours including pancreatic cancer and is involved in modulating genes at various steps of carcinogenesis. pO2 in human pancreatic cancer cells has been found to be significantly low as compared to normal pancreatic parenchyma. In addition to the already existing hypoxia in the tumour micro-environment, chemical and surgery induced hypoxia can induce phenotypically aggressive drug resistant cancer stem cells. This research project intends to study whether acute surgical hypoxia during pancreaticoduodenectomy, done for pancreatic and peri-ampullary adenocarcinoma, is related to generation of stemness. It will also study about genetic markers of stemness induced by acute surgical hypoxia and the gene sequence on the intraoperative biopsy specimens obtained at different time points of surgery. This is planned to be a prospective pilot study on 20 patients of pancreatic and periampullary tumours planned for pancreaticoduodenectomy. Intraoperative wedge biopsy from tumour at different time points during vessel ligation and resection will be performed. The expression of the markers of hypoxia and their protein products (HIF1α, VEGF, CAIX, E-cadherin, N-cadherin, Vimentin, twist, SOX-2, OCT-4, NANOG, CD-24, CD-44, CD-95, CD-133, CD-166, Survivin, RAGE) will be studied using RT PCR and flow cytometry.

Study 2 – Organoid project
Title – Do patient-derived organoids predict therapeutic response in pancreatic cancer patients with advanced disease. This is a pilot study to assess the complex relationship between in vivo chemotherapy effect on the tumour and in vitro chemotherapy organoid interaction. The patient‘s core biopsy specimen will be used for organoid preparation. Organoids will be prepared from 20 patients biopsy sample and drug response will be correlated in at least 10 patients. It intends to compare the responses to chemotherapy drugs (standard of care) in metastatic pancreatic cancer patients in vivo (radiologically by RECIST criteria) versus in vitro with patient derived organoid. It will also try to identify clinico-serological and radiological markers co relating the drug responses with the help of the patient derived organoid. Which ultimately aims to use patient-derived organoid to design for individualized therapies for pancreatic cancer patients with advanced disease.

More information on Tata Trusts Education grants at: http://tatatrusts.org/article/inside/education-grants