The overall premise of my research is that a greater understanding of how childhood cancer cells respond to extra- or intracellular signals is necessary to identify tumour-specific pathways. Only then can these pathways be targeted therapeutically in a manner that minimizes effects on normal cells. This is especially important in childhood cancer to avoid toxic effects of treatments on the intellectual, physical, and emotional development of a growing child. An ongoing difficulty with this approach is how to find the relevant pathways to target. Over the years, we have chosen to characterize recurrent genetic alterations in childhood tumours as a means to more efficiently identify novel cancer genes. This is part of our belief that analysis of primary tumours is preferable for initial identification of pathophysiologically relevant alterations in human malignancies. With the advent of next-generation sequencing, we are now extending this approach to whole genome sequencing of childhood cancers to better understand the mutational landscape of these tumours. Then, once the involved proteins have been identified, model systems can be invoked to further study their biology and how the pathways they are involved in become activated. We then use various biochemical approaches as well as high-throughput platforms such as RNA interference screening to rigorously characterize the involved proteins, their functional interactors, and the signal transduction pathways they participate in. This forms the basis for subsequent strategies to therapeutically target candidate proteins in childhood cancers.

Full list of publications may be found here.

Members

Faculty/Leaders

Affiliate

Philipp Lange

Affiliated Scientist

Staff

Cynthia Ferguson

Research Projects and Operations Leader

Yue Zhou (Joe) Huang

Research Assistant / Technician

Christopher Hughes

Mass Spectrometry Service Specialist

Qiaochu (Irene) Lin

Research Assistant/Technician

Michael Lizardo

Staff Scientist

Melanie Rouleau

Research Project Manager

Xiaqiu Yang

Research Assistant/Technician

Post-Docs

Alberto Delaidelli

Postdoctoral Fellow

Ahmed Elbassiouny

Postdoctoral Fellow

Ashish Kumar

Postdoctoral Fellow

Renata Scopim Ribeiro

Post-doctoral Fellow

Students/Trainees

Mattie Cassee

Visiting Student

Aditya Chauhan

Directed studies student

Arnold Cheng

Volunteer

Qingfeng Huang

Visiting Student

Luxin Liu

Visiting Student

Manideep Chowdary Pachva

Graduate Student

Ella Poynton

Co-op Student

Annalena Renner

Graduate Student

Namya Sharma

Co-op Student

Taras Shyp

Graduate Student

Busra Turgu

Graduate Student

Open Positions

Postdoctoral Research Fellow

Job Category

Faculty Non Bargaining

Job Title

Postdoctoral Research Fellow

 

Department

Sorensen Laboratory | Department of Pathology and Laboratory Medicine | Faculty of Medicine (Poul Sorensen)

 

Job description

The Sorensen laboratory is seeking a highly-motivated postdoctoral fellow with leadership ability and a strong background in one or more of the following fields, namely molecular biology, immunology, and mouse modeling studies. Expertise in bioinformatics analysis is a definite asset. This is a full-time position under the supervision of Dr. Poul Sorensen at the British Columbia Cancer Research Institute in beautiful Vancouver, British Columbia, part of the University of British Columbia, a consistent top 40 worldwide university. The work focuses on functional characterization of pathways involved in tumor cell adaptation to diverse stresses of the tumor microenvironment (TME), including metabolic stress, and how such adaptation leads to disease progression, in high-risk childhood cancers (e.g. PMIDs: 34021002; 35365367; 37611092; 25965573; 31668005; 33908607; 32406909; 25800057). The goal is to use this information to identify and implement novel therapies, including immunotherapeutic targets, for the treatment of these diseases, including Ewing sarcoma, osteosarcoma, neuroblastoma, and CNS tumors. The position start date is flexible but is available immediately for the successful candidate.

This position is located within a health-care facility. Therefore, this position requires successful verification of full vaccination against Covid-19 provided prior to the start date, as required by the provincial health mandate.

Job summary

The work performed in the Sorensen laboratory seeks to utilize basic science approaches to uncover new treatment options in high-risk pediatric cancers, particularly in the targeting of metastatic disease.

The topic areas include but are not limited to the following;

  • utilizing proteomics, especially surfaceomic analysis, to identify novel immunotherapy targets for the development of antibody-based therapies in the treatment of high-risk pediatric cancers;
  • extensive use of in vitro and in vivo CRISPR screening to identify and functionally validate high-value pathways of interest from multi-omic studies;
  • therapeutic targeting of altered metabolic pathways in pediatric cancers;
  • elucidation of mechanisms of tumor cell stress adaptation in the TME, including metabolic reprogramming, and how this confers metastatic competence; and
  • the role of RNA binding proteins, stress granules, and altered mRNA translation in tumor cytoprotective responses.

Moreover, this position will provide opportunities to collaborate with international leaders in the field of pediatric basic, translational, and clinical research, including immunotherapy and antibody engineering. The selected fellow will initially be supported by grant funds, but will be strongly encouraged to apply for independent fellowship funding, and existing funding is of course an asset.

Organizational status

The PDF will be employed by the department of Pathology and Laboratory Medicine, Faculty of Medicine at the University of British Columbia. The Sorensen Laboratory is located at the BC Cancer Research Institute in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada. The candidate will report directly to the primary Investigator, Dr. Sorensen. The position requires to use a high degree of leadership, initiative, tact and professional judgement in carrying out responsibilities related to the research. Excellent writing skills are critical.

The Department of Pathology and Laboratory Medicine at UBC is a hybrid, academically intensive Department within the UBC Faculty of Medicine whose activities span a broad spectrum of teaching, research, and academic service, often performed in the milieu of clinical practice, and are ultimately devoted to improving the care, treatment, and well-being of patients.  The Department offers academic degrees at the bachelor’s (Bachelor of Medical Laboratory Science (BMLSc)) and graduate (MSc, PhD) levels with the graduate program, one of the largest in the Faculty of Medicine, which has been recognized by UBC for its quality. The Department plays a major role in the MD undergraduate program and offers an accredited residency-training program. Faculty members participate across a spectrum of research from basic investigative to translational to clinical applied research and are recognized locally, nationally and internationally for their excellence. 

Work performed

  • Develop and implement research plan to validate and prioritize therapeutic targets in high-risk childhood cancers, based on omics data, including surfaceomic data.
  • Provide leadership, strategic direction, and translational research pertaining to the development of novel immunotherapy for the treatment of high-risk childhood cancers
  • Design and conduct animal experiments, molecular and cellular biology analysis, and bioinformatics analysis of CRISPR screening and other omics experiments. 
  • Prepare and present results at internal and external meetings and write manuscripts for publication in peer-reviewed journals.
  • Identify funding opportunities as well as write grant proposals
  • Lead and mentor junior trainees/students in the laboratory

Consequence of Error/Judgement

This is a senior research position with a critical role in the development of this emerging field. The PDF is accountable for the quality and integrity of the research and data, including analyses and interpretation, as well as the effective and efficient management of research projects and deliverables. This position requires innovation, strategic planning, and adaptability. Incorrect decisions or actions may damage the reputation of the laboratory, lead to loss of credibility in this field, and be financially costly.

Selected Publications

Proteomic Screens for Suppressors of Anoikis Identify IL1RAP as a Promising Surface Target in Ewing Sarcoma.

Cancer discovery, 2021
Zhang, Hai-Feng, Hughes, Christopher S, Li, Wei, He, Jian-Zhong, Surdez, Didier, El-Naggar, Amal M, Cheng, Hongwei, Prudova, Anna, Delaidelli, Alberto, Negri, Gian Luca, Li, Xiaojun, Ørum-Madsen, Maj Sofie, Lizardo, Michael M, Oo, Htoo Zarni, Colborne, Shane, Shyp, Taras, Scopim-Ribeiro, Renata, Hammond, Colin A, Dhez, Anne-Chloe, Langman, Sofya, Lim, Jonathan K M, Kung, Sonia H Y, Li, Amy, Steino, Anne, Daugaard, Mads, Parker, Seth J, Geltink, Ramon I Klein, Orentas, Rimas J, Xu, Li-Yan, Morin, Gregg B, Delattre, Olivier, Dimitrov, Dimiter S, Sorensen, Poul H

Class I HDAC inhibitors enhance YB-1 acetylation and oxidative stress to block sarcoma metastasis.

EMBO reports, 2019
El-Naggar, Amal M, Somasekharan, Syam Prakash, Wang, Yemin, Cheng, Hongwei, Negri, Gian Luca, Pan, Melvin, Wang, Xue Qi, Delaidelli, Alberto, Rafn, Bo, Cran, Jordan, Zhang, Fan, Zhang, Haifeng, Colborne, Shane, Gleave, Martin, Mandinova, Anna, Kedersha, Nancy, Hughes, Christopher S, Surdez, Didier, Delattre, Olivier, Wang, Yuzhuo, Huntsman, David G, Morin, Gregg B, Sorensen, Poul H

Targeting Human Cancer by a Glycosaminoglycan Binding Malaria Protein.

Cancer cell, 2015
Salanti, Ali, Clausen, Thomas M, Agerbæk, Mette Ø, Al Nakouzi, Nader, Dahlbäck, Madeleine, Oo, Htoo Zarni, Lee, Sherry, Gustavsson, Tobias, Rich, Jamie R, Hedberg, Bradley J, Mao, Yang, Barington, Line, Pereira, Marina A, LoBello, Janine, Endo, Makoto, Fazli, Ladan, Soden, Jo, Wang, Chris K, Sander, Adam F, Dagil, Robert, Thrane, Susan, Holst, Peter J, Meng, Le, Favero, Francesco, Weiss, Glen J, Nielsen, Morten A, Freeth, Jim, Nielsen, Torsten O, Zaia, Joseph, Tran, Nhan L, Trent, Jeff, Babcook, John S, Theander, Thor G, Sorensen, Poul H, Daugaard, Mads

Translational Activation of HIF1α by YB-1 Promotes Sarcoma Metastasis.

Cancer cell, 2015
El-Naggar, Amal M, Veinotte, Chansey J, Cheng, Hongwei, Grunewald, Thomas G P, Negri, Gian Luca, Somasekharan, Syam Prakash, Corkery, Dale P, Tirode, Franck, Mathers, Joan, Khan, Debjit, Kyle, Alastair H, Baker, Jennifer H, LePard, Nancy E, McKinney, Steven, Hajee, Shamil, Bosiljcic, Momir, Leprivier, Gabriel, Tognon, Cristina E, Minchinton, Andrew I, Bennewith, Kevin L, Delattre, Olivier, Wang, Yuzhuo, Dellaire, Graham, Berman, Jason N, Sorensen, Poul H

The eEF2 kinase confers resistance to nutrient deprivation by blocking translation elongation.

Cell, 2013
Leprivier, Gabriel, Remke, Marc, Rotblat, Barak, Dubuc, Adrian, Mateo, Abigail-Rachele F, Kool, Marcel, Agnihotri, Sameer, El-Naggar, Amal, Yu, Bin, Somasekharan, Syam Prakash, Faubert, Brandon, Bridon, Gaëlle, Tognon, Cristina E, Mathers, Joan, Thomas, Ryan, Li, Amy, Barokas, Adi, Kwok, Brian, Bowden, Mary, Smith, Stephanie, Wu, Xiaochong, Korshunov, Andrey, Hielscher, Thomas, Northcott, Paul A, Galpin, Jason D, Ahern, Christopher A, Wang, Ye, McCabe, Martin G, Collins, V Peter, Jones, Russell G, Pollak, Michael, Delattre, Olivier, Gleave, Martin E, Jan, Eric, Pfister, Stefan M, Proud, Christopher G, Derry, W Brent, Taylor, Michael D, Sorensen, Poul H

Projects

Discovery and Development of Optimal Immunotherapeutic Strategies for Childhood Cancers

High-risk pediatric cancers remain the leading cause of mortality in childhood, and current standard approaches to treat pediatric cancers frequently induce unacceptable life-long morbidity. This multi-center collaborative effort focuses on identifying and understanding the fundamental mechanisms leading to high-risk childhood cancers, including how these malignancies evolve to evade the immune system and resist modern therapies.

Sponsors

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