PhD Position in Bio-Informatics
Catholic University of Leuven Laboratory for Translational Breast Cancer Research

The Laboratory for Translational Breast Cancer Research (LTBCR), headed by Prof. Christine Desmedt, has three main research axes. Firstly, LTBCR aims at unraveling the breast cancer-adiposity connection. There is a growing proportion of overweight and obese women and the impact of adiposity (having a body composition with a high proportion of adipose tissue) on breast cancer is a growing major medical concern. However, personalized breast cancer treatments have largely neglected the impact of adiposity on its biology, progression and treatment efficacy. In the lab, using state-of-the-art technologies, we aim at identifying potential strategies to tailor breast cancer treatment according to adiposity. Secondly, LTBCR aims at providing a better characterization of less frequent disease entities such as lobular breast cancer and inflammatory breast cancer. Lobular breast cancer is the second most common histological subtype of breast cancer. At LTBCR, we are further characterizing the clinical, pathological, immune, genomic and transcriptomic peculiarities of this disease. Of note, LTBCR is one of the co-founders and co-leaders of the European Lobular Breast Cancer Consortium, ELBCC. Finally, LTBCR aims at unraveling breast cancer progression by in-depth characterization of the metastases. The origins of metastatic disease are unclear and phylogenetic analyses can provide the opportunity to understand BC evolution and metastatic progression. Additionally, a detailed characterization of the intra-patient inter-metastatic heterogeneity of the tumor microenvironment is still lacking. In this context, we have set up a multi-disciplinary post-mortem tissue donation program, called UPTIDER (UZ/KU Leuven Program for post-mortem Tissue Donation to Enhance Research), where liquid and tissue samples are taken from breast cancer patients with metastatic disease in the first hours after death. This will lead to an unprecedented and extremely valuable repertoire of samples for research on heterogeneity of the disease, disease progression and resistance to treatment.


The candidate will be working as a bio-informatics PhD student on the data generated within the large UPTIDER post mortem tissue donation program. The main objective of UPTIDER is to unravel metastatic breast cancer evolution, biology, heterogeneity and treatment resistance. Specifically, we will apply whole genome/exome and RNA bulk/single-cell or nuclei sequencing from a various source of tissues and fluids samples collected during the autopsy.


The candidate should hold a Master degree in bioinformatics, computational biology, biostatistics, bioengineering or artificial intelligence and show a strong interest for genomics, bioinformatics, cancer research and translational medicine.
Apart from being a true team player, the candidate is expected to exhibit a high degree of independence, to have a problem-solving attitude and have strong analytical and technical abilities.
Fluency in English is expected, both written and spoken.


A dynamic and challenging research work environment in a very young team of enthusiastic researchers where quality, professionalism and team spirit are encouraged.

The opportunity to actively contribute to breast cancer research.

Adequate guidance. All team members have a different background and will thus be able to guide you in a multidisciplinary way. Regular lab meetings and personal discussion will ensure you are well supported. You will be mainly guided by the head of the lab and the senior PostDoc in bio-informatics.

A nice location. Our lab is situated on the Campus of Gasthuisberg in Leuven, a charming and vibrant university city that is only a 20 minutes train ride away from the city of Brussels.


Applications should include a letter of application, an up-to-date CV and at least two referees. For more information please contact Prof. dr. Christine Desmedt, tel.: +32 16 19 33 06, mail: or Mrs. Marion MAETENS, tel.: +32 16 32 11 94, mail:

You can apply for this job no later than August 02, 2021 via the
KU Leuven seeks to foster an environment where all talents can flourish, regardless of gender, age, cultural background, nationality or impairments. If you have any questions relating to accessibility or support, please contact us at
  • Employment percentage: Voltijds
  • Location: Leuven
  • Apply before: August 2, 2021
  • Tags: Oncologie

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