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Discovery and development of gene methylation markers related to the efficacy of tumor immunotherapy


   Biological Sciences

  , Dr Xinghong Luo, Dr Chris Sanderson  Applications accepted all year round  Funded PhD Project (Students Worldwide)

About the Project

Supervisors

Principal supervisor: Professor/Dr Jia Meng  (XJTLU)

Co-supervisor: Professor/Dr Xinghong Luo (JITRI)

Co-supervisor: Professor/Dr Chris Sanderson (UoL)

Project Description

In recent years, rapid progress has been made in the field of tumor immunotherapy. A large number of Immune Checkpoint Inhibitor (ICI) drugs at home and abroad have entered clinical trials and even been approved for marketing. Among them, there are many broad-spectrum drugs targeting pan-cancer species. The prognostic effect is remarkable, and it brings new hope for the survival improvement and even cure of tumor patients. However, the objective remission rate of ICI immunotherapy for the overall population is not ideal, and there are a small number of cases, and adverse events such as ultraprogressive occurrence. Therefore, searching for prognostic markers of immunotherapy and accurately screening immunotherapy-adapted populations has become one of the current research hotspots. At this stage, most of the indicators used for the prognosis of immunotherapy are the detection of gene mutations and transcription expression levels. The integration of more omics data will have the opportunity to further improve the screening of immunotherapy suitable populations, so that more patients will benefit from immunotherapy. This research project intends to predict the efficacy of ICI immunotherapy based on the detection of DNA methylation characteristics, in order to provide a more sensitive, stable, and wider range of clinical testing products for immunotherapy-assisted decision-making. At present, there are indicators based on genomic mutations, such as dMMR, MSI, TMB, etc., which can be used to assist decision-making in immunotherapy. Among them, TMB has even been written into NCCN guidelines. The immune microenvironment model based on the transcription level such as inflammation-related 18 genes has also shown good prognostic prediction effects in the retrospective study of the immunotherapy cohort. As the most common epigenetic modification, DNA methylation plays an important role in gene regulation. Studies have shown that there is a certain correlation between it and gene expression, indicating that DNA methylation detection is also possible Help distinguish different groups of people with high and low response to immunotherapy. DNA methylation plays a more refined role in the gene expression regulatory network, implying that it may have more sensitive pattern characteristics than the genome and transcriptome, which will help to find the immunotherapy response including adverse reactions. Markers. In addition, DNA methylation detection technology has lower requirements for sample quality than RNA expression level detection technology, which enables immunotherapy-assisted decision-making products based on DNA methylation detection to be used in a wider range of tumor patients.

For more information about doctoral scholarship and PhD programme at Xi’an Jiaotong-Liverpool University (XJTLU): Please visit

http://www.xjtlu.edu.cn/en/study-with-us/admissions/entry-requirements

http://www.xjtlu.edu.cn/en/admissions/phd/feesscholarships.html

Supervisor Profile:

Principal Supervisor:

Jia Meng received his bachelor degree in Electrical Engineering from Northwestern Polytechnic University in 2006, and earned his PhD in Electrical Engineering from University of Texas at San Antonio in 2011. He joined Massachusetts Institute of Technology in Feb 2012 as a Bioinformatician and the Supervisor of Bioinformatics Core Facility at Picower Institute for Learning and Memory. Between 2012 and 2014, he served as an Associate Scientist at Broad Institute of MIT and Harvard. He is now an Associate Professor at Department of Biological Sciences, Xi’an Jiaotong-Liverpool University, and has an honorary appointment from Institute of Integrative Biology, University of Liverpool. Jia Meng has previously worked on a wide variety of computational biology projects that aim at a system level understanding of gene regulation and the integration of multiple high-throughput data types and databases with advanced multivariate techniques, such as, Bayesian generative modelling, sparse representation, factorization, nonparametric approaches, etc. He has authored or co-authored more than 100 peer-reviewed publications and is now focusing primarily on epitranscriptome bioinformatics.

JITRI co-supervisor:

Dr. Luo Xinghong, Doctor of Chinese Medicine, Chief Chinese Pharmacist, Adjunct Professor of Hainan Medical College, Distinguished Professor of Nanjing University of Traditional Chinese Medicine, and Adjunct Professor of Chengdu University of Traditional Chinese Medicine. From 1998 to 2000, he was engaged in new drug research at Sichuan Institute of Traditional Chinese Medicine. In 2000, he joined Simcere Pharmaceutical Co., Ltd. and successively served as production manager, quality management manager, new product development manager, company deputy general manager, and president office. Director, General Manager of the Policy Affairs Department and other positions. Since 2018, he has served as the Deputy Director of the Institute of Translational Medicine and Innovative Drug Technology. He has presided over or participated in the research and development of more than ten new drugs including Class I and Class II new drugs, and obtained 7 authorized invention patents. Won 2 first prizes of Provincial Science and Technology Progress, 1 second prize of National Science and Technology Progress, 1 China Patent Excellence Award, published more than 40 academic papers, edited and published more than 30 academic monographs.

Requirements:

The candidate should have a first class or upper second class honours degree, or a master’s degree (or equivalent qualification) in bioinformatics, biology, applied mathematics, computer science, data science, etc.

Evidence of good spoken and written English is essential. The candidate should have an IELTS score of 6.5 or above, if the first language is not English. This position is open to all qualified candidates irrespective of nationality.

Degree: 

The student will be awarded a PhD degree from the University of Liverpool (UK) upon successful completion of the program.

How to apply

Interested applicants are advised to email (XJTLU principal supervisor’s email address) or the following documents for initial review and assessment (please put the project title in the subject line).

  • CV
  • Two reference letters with company/university letterhead
  • Personal statement outlining your interest in the position
  • Proof of English language proficiency (an IELTS score of 6.5 or above)
  • Verified school transcripts in both Chinese and English (for international students, only the English version is required)
  • Verified certificates of education qualifications in both Chinese and English (for international students, only the English version is required) 
  • PDF copy of Master Degree dissertation (or an equivalent writing sample) and examiners reports available

Funding Notes

This PhD project is a collaborative research project between XJTLU (View Website) in Suzhou and JITRI (Jiangsu Industrial Technology Research Institute) Institute of Translational Medicine and Innovative Drug Technology in Nanjing. The student will be registered as an XJLTU PhD student but is expected to carry out the major part of his or her research at the Institute in Nanjing.
The PhD studentship is available for three years subject to satisfactory progress by the student. The award covers tuition fees for three years (currently equivalent to RMB 80,000 per annum).

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