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Max Planck Insti­tute of Col­loids and Inter­faces - Depart­ment of Bio­ma­ter­i­als

The over­arch­ing research area of the Depart­ment is bio­lo­gical mater­i­als sci­ence, which con­nects mater­i­als sci­ence and bio­logy in a recip­rocal way: First, bio­med­ical ques­tions are addressed by meth­ods and approaches bor­rowed from phys­ics, chem­istry or mater­i­als sci­ence. One such example is the extra­cel­lu­lar tis­sue in the case of skeletal dis­eases and dur­ing regen­er­a­tion. Second, we tap into the diversity of nat­ural organ­isms to study nat­ur­ally evolved solu­tions of engin­eer­ing prob­lems encountered by these organ­isms. Examples are mater­i­als com­bin­ing stiff­ness and frac­ture res­ist­ance or provid­ing cap­ab­il­it­ies for sens­ing, self-heal­ing or shape-change. Many types of nat­ural mater­i­als, often based on com­mon classes of nat­ural poly­mers, such as cel­lu­lose, chitin or pro­tein are addressed in these ways.

MSc thesis at Max Planck Insti­tute & TU Ber­lin


Breast can­cer cell cycle pro­gres­sion in bone mar­row-on-a-chip (BM-on-a-chip)

Work­ing field:

Bio­tech­no­logy, Bio­med­ical Engin­eer­ing, Bio­medi­cine or Bio­logy


You should have a back­ground in bio­tech­no­logy, bio­med­ical engin­eer­ing, bio­medi­cine, bio­logy or sim­ilar. Pre­vi­ous exper­i­ence with cell cul­ture will be highly valu­able, but not essen­tial.

What we of­fer:

Invest­ig­a­tion of breast can­cer cell cycle pro­gres­sion within a 3D bone mar­row-mim­ick­ing micro­fluidic envir­on­ment to under­stand their inter­ac­tions with host cells and their niche.

As part of the meta­static pro­cess, can­cer cells detach from the primary tumor and col­on­ize sec­ond­ary organs in the body, the bone mar­row (BM) being among the favor­ites. Import­antly, out­growth of these dis­sem­in­ated tumor cells (DTC) might occur either shortly after hom­ing or with delays ran­ging from years to dec­ades, this last also called “dormancy”. It has long been viewed that sol­uble bio­chem­ical sig­nals might orches­trate such pro­lif­er­a­tion-dormancy decisions; non­ethe­less, increas­ing evid­ence points towards the role of bio­phys­ical cues. In addi­tion, recent notions pos­tu­late that DTCs might inter­act with local hem­a­topoi­etic stem cells (HSC) either by shar­ing the same cues for engraft­ment and mobil­iz­a­tion or by com­pet­ing for the same BM space. We aim to under­stand such inter­ac­tions by tak­ing advant­age of a recently developed BM-on-a-chip sys­tem which con­sists of primary mes­en­chymal stromal cells (MSC) cul­tured on 3D scaf­folds and allows long-term cul­ture of HSCs in a three dimen­sional microen­vir­on­ment 1. The pro­ject will involve cul­tur­ing fluor­es­cently labelled breast can­cer cells for spa­tio-tem­poral and real time visu­al­iz­a­tion of cell cycle dynam­ics within the BM-on-a-chip sys­tem. The two main aspects in which we are inter­ested are: a) DTCs-BM extra­cel­lu­lar microen­vir­on­ment and b) DTCs-HSCs inter­ac­tions in the BM-on-a-chip sys­tem. Explor­at­ory ana­lysis will involve fluor­es­cence, con­focal and even­tual elec­tron micro­scopy together with FACS ana­lyses and immun­os­tain­ing.

You should have a back­ground in bio­tech­no­logy, bio­med­ical engin­eer­ing, bio­medi­cine, bio­logy or sim­ilar. Pre­vi­ous exper­i­ence with cell cul­ture will be highly valu­able, but not essen­tial. The pro­ject will be car­ried out at the Max Planck Insti­tute of Col­loids and Inter­faces and the Insti­tute for Bio­tech­no­logy at TU Ber­lin in the groups of Dr Amaia Cipitria and Dr Mark Rosowski, respect­ively.

1. Sieber, S. et al. Bone mar­row-on-a-chip: Long-term cul­ture of human haema­topoi­etic stem cells in a three-dimen­sional micro­fluidic envir­on­ment. J. Tis­sue Eng. Regen. Med. 12, 479–489 (2018).

How to ap­ply:

Please send your applic­a­tion includ­ing a motiv­a­tion let­ter, your CV and a tran­script of your uni­versity record to: and Please indic­ate “Mas­ter thesis –Breast can­cer cell cycle pro­gres­sion in BM-on-a-chip” in the sub­ject line. The pro­ject can start between Octo­ber-Decem­ber 2020. The work­ing lan­guage is Eng­lish.

Dr Amaia Cipitria (Emmy Noether Group Leader) and Sadra Bakh­shandeh (Doc­toral researcher), Dept. of Bio­ma­ter­i­als, Max Planck Insti­tute of Col­loids and Inter­faces, Golm, Pots­dam.