Open Positions


PhD Student Fellowship, Beck Lab

Characterization of the vulnerability of oesophageal cancer

The Beck Lab has an open PhD position in experimental cancer biology within the Institute of Interdisciplinary Research (IRIBHM), part of the medical school of the University of Brussels (ULB). 

The research in our lab is focused on further understanding the pathology of oesophageal cancers. Oesophageal cancer comprises two distinct diseases: squamous cell carcinoma (eSCC) and adenocarcinoma (eAC). eSCC accounts for 90% of oesophageal cancer cases worldwide. Unfortunately, despite improvements in the survival of patients treated with radiochemotherapy, the mortality rate of patient with eSCC barely improved in years. To reduce the mortality rate associated with these cancers, it is crucial to better understand the origin of oesophageal cancers and the molecular mechanisms underlying the development of these diseases and translate that knowledge into novel approaches for their diagnosis, prognosis and/or treatment. This led our lab to investigate the molecular core in eSCC and identify factors that affect the response of eSCC tumors to first line treatment. At this end, our groups combined a multi-system approach combining in vitro analysis, in vivo murine models of eSCC to translate the findings in the near future in clinics.

The proposed project will consist to assess and decipher the response of eSCC to first line treatment, play with their response and assess the interplay with various mechanisms such as the cell cycle, the DNA damage response, the circadian cycle and metabolism. For this, a broad range of techniques will be used including state-of-the-art multi-omics analyses (transcriptomics RNA-seq, ATAC-seq, (phospho)proteomic by MS, CHROMASS) and validate those understandings/findings in vivo. Insights into such chemotherapy response or resistance from eSCC will lead to the identification of markers that could guide clinicians to the choice of effective treatment for each patient.

The work will be carried out in the Beck’s lab under Xavier Bisteau’s supervision in collaboration with the mass spectrometry lab of the institute. In addition to the work directly to the PhD project, the successful candidate will contribute to collaboration with other groups requiring MS analyses as well as implementation and development of MS methods to the lab.

The position, immediately available, will be financially supported for 1 year (renewable) but the successful candidate is encouraged to obtain independent support (FRIA, FNRS,…) during this time.


  • Master with a biochemical and/or cell biological background
  • A proficient experience in molecular biology and biochemistry
  • Mass spectrometry experience and computational background is a big plus. 
  • The ability to work in a multidisciplinary research team as well as effective communication and writing skills and a good mastery of the English language are essential for a successful selection.

How to apply:

Motivated candidates are asked to send applications to Dr Xavier Bisteau and Dr Benjamin Beck

Applications must include a CV as well as (i) a cover letter explaining why you are interested in our work, your aspiration for a PhD, your past and future projects and career goals; (ii) the names and contacts of two contact people to provide recommendations (thesis mentor must be included), and (iii) a summary of your master thesis.

IRIBHM PHD Programme 2020

IRIBHM is a research institute of the Medical School of the Free University of Brussels (Université Libre de Bruxelles, ULB). The institute offers an internationally prominent research environment in molecular biology and life sciences, that engage different topics that span receptor pharmacology and new therapeutic targets discovery, early embryonic development, neurobiology, stem cells and cancer. The institute has trained over the years a number of talented young scientists both at the graduate and postdoctoral levels.

In order to expand internationally and keep rising its level of excellence, the IRIBHM ( launches an international graduate programme in order to prepare the future leaders in biomedical sciences. At least 2 PhD scholarships are available. The successful candidates will have the opportunity to work in a warm and stimulating research environment aligned with the highest international standards.

As the administrative center of the European Union, Brussels is a perfect location for an International PhD programme. In addition, the city shows an active cultural life and is hosting most nationalities from all over the world.

We look forward to welcoming you in Brussels! 


  1. Diplomas and degrees equivalent to a European Union Master’s degree, which includes project work summarized in a written “small thesis”
  2. Two referees willing to provide letter of recommendations
  3. Excellent knowledge of English
  4. Excellent interpersonal and organisational skills

Closing date for CV and letters submission: June 30.

Accepted candidates may start research projects as early as November 2020

Visit our website for more details and CV submission.

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