The cell-based cancer therapy CAR-T is highly effective and requires collecting, reprogramming and reinjecting patients’ own immune cells to trigger them to specifically attack and kill tumors. Crucially, the cell processing step requires targeted genetic modification of immune cells, typically performed at dedicated, highly controlled clinical manufacturing centers. This sophisticated process could be sped up significantly if technological solutions existed to allow precise, high-throughput, near-patient gene editing of freshly harvested cells. Gene editing is also interesting to barcode single cells with the purpose of cell labeling or to engineer complete tissues.
The current PhD topic will focus on developing enabling technologies for bridging the gap between gene editing at the bench and the bedside, ideally resulting in an automated, closed, single-use, disposable system. Gene-editing using high-density electrode arrays will be used on adherent cell cultures to engineer designer cell assemblies and develop a bottom-up tissue engineering approach.
The thesis work will include electrical and microfluidic fabrication in imec’s state-of-the-art cleanrooms, laboratory work and electrode array measurements. This topic will be supervised and supported by a team of physicists, cell biologists and engineers in the imec life sciences department.
Required background: physics, electrical engineering, bioengineering
Type of work: 20% literature, 80% lab or cleanroom work
Supervisor: Liesbet Lagae
Daily advisors: Maarten Fauvart, Dries Braeken
The reference code for this PhD position is SE1712-23. Mention this reference code on your application form.