PhD Proposal Competition successful for three students Molecular Mechanisms of Disease

Bull Christian

The RUNMC PhD proposal competition offers the unique chance for enthusiastic students to develop and carry out their own research project. For the 2011 round, four places were available. Three students Molecular Mechanisms of Disease (MMD) and one student Biomedical Sciences have been awarded a position to do their PhD research project under the supervision of a RUNMC Principal Investigator.

Christian Büll will perform his project entitled 'Sialic Acids and Siglecs: Key Targets to Modulate the Immune Suppressive Tumor Microenvironment?' in the group of Prof. dr. Gosse Adema. Immunoinhibitory sialic acid/siglec interactions are of paramount importance for the induction of tolerance, as defects in sialic acid-synthesis predispose to autoimmunity. Strikingly many tumors have been reported to overexpress and release sialic acid-harboring molecules, implying that they utilize siglec-mediated immune suppression to escape from the immune system. This project aims to elucidate the role of sialic acid/siglec interactions in the generation of the immunosuppressive tumor microenvironment and to develop interfering strategies within to boost anti-tumor immune responses.

Pascal Miesen will work with Prof. dr. Joep Galema and Dr. Ronald van Rij on a research project with the aim to elucidate the role of host microRNAs in Dengue virus infections. MicroRNAs are small, non-coding RNAs that regulate gene expression in almost all cellular processes in human health and disease. Recently, they have been discovered as crucial players during virus infections as well.

Marie Pohl will focus on transmission of Flaviviruses in the group of Dr. Frank van Kuppeveld and Prof. dr. Joep Galema.

According to Christian Büll: 'The MMD programme provided an optimal preparation for the competition, since it includes the writing and defending of research proposals under realistic conditions.' This has helped the students to be successful in the competition.

The PhD proposal competition is open to all research-oriented Master's students at Radboud University Nijmegen Medical Centre. The new round will start in June 2011.

Photo: Christian Büll

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