Technician Job Posting in Circulating Tumor Cell Detection Systems

2023/04 | Milan

IFOM is an internationally recognized non-profit cancer research institute supported by the Italian Association for Cancer Research (AIRC) based in Milan within a highly dynamic urban environment

IFOM continuous success is ensured by the recruitment of highly selected undergraduate, graduate and post-graduate researchers from over 24 countries worldwide.

IFOM is hosted within a research campus shared with the European Institute of Oncology and the Italian Institute of Technology.

IFOM is committed to creating a safe and inclusive environment, based on mutual respect and the enhancement of diversity, offering equal job opportunities to all qualified candidates.

About the Position

The Technician would be involved in a dynamic, on-going project for tracking circulating tumor cells (CTCs) and clusters from breast cancer murine and patient samples using an extensively validated microfluidic system.
CTCs, released from tumors during metastatic disease, are associated with disease progression. CTC clusters have increased metastatic potential and worse patient prognosis, but are rare and difficult to characterize. A bimodular microfluidic system has been designed to capture and sort CTC clusters from whole blood, allowing for the extraction of parameters such as cluster size, composition, and relative cohesive properties. The system can also track the stiffness of tumor clusters, which has been linked to metastatic potential. Extensive validation has been performed on the microfluidic device since 2014 using breast cancer cells, cancer mouse models, and cancer patients

The device is currently used to study CTCs and clusters in the blood of MMTV-EPN3/NeuN mouse models, in collaboration with the European Institute of Oncology. In addition, we have applied the system towards examining CTCs from patients with metastatic breast cancer, in collaboration with the Fondazione IRCCS Istituto Nazionale dei Tumori in Milan.

Department overview

Giorgio Scita's Lab

Profile Description

  • Microfabrication of devices including following soft lithography protocols, creating PDMS molds, plasma cleaning and device bonding.
  • Running CTC experiments for processing whole blood samples from murine or cancer patients on a routine basis.
  • Following standardize protocols for CTC processing, including magnetic bead incubation steps, CTC capture and wash steps on-chip, followed by on-chip immunostaining for target cancer cell antibodies (cytokeratin, HER2, DAPI) and white blood cells (CD45): total processing time is between 5-6 hours. Up to 4 blood samples can be processed simultaneously.
  • Systematically recording any problems encountered during CTC processing (such as the presence of gas bubbles in the fluidic channels).
  • Following standardized procedures for handling of blood samples and blood waste.
  • Set up and clean-up of microfluidic devices, syringe pump, stand and related equipment.
  • Obtaining an inventory of materials and reagents needed for fabrication and CTC processing and indicating when a reagent or material needs to be ordered.
  • Performing validation tests to determine optimal antibodies for cancer cell detection.
  • Performing capture efficiency experiments for novel microfluidic device designs.
  • Aid in developing protocols for release and culture of CTCs.
  • Imaging of the devices using standardized protocols: scanning the devices with confocal laser.
  • Applying a semi-automated counting algorithm to analyze the data from experiments.
  • Recording final CTC and CTC cluster counts for each blood sample in an Excel spreadsheet.

Key experience and competencies

  • Bachelor’s experience in biology, biotechnology, bioengineering or related subjects and strong interest in cancer diagnostics;
  • Master’s degree is a plus in biology, biotechnology, bioengineering or related subjects;
  • At least 5 years of work experience or academic experience, preferably in a diagnostic laboratory setting;
  • Careful and attention to detail. Excellent ability to follow standardized protocols
  • Ability to work with small and delicate devices (3-5 cm) with precision: includes glass bonding, tube insertions, and connection of inlet/ outlet reservoirs;
  • Ability to work with micro-fabrication equipment: spin coater, desiccator, plasma cleaner, mask aligner;
  • Strong communication skills, written and verbal;
  • Collaborative attitude and teamwork experience;
  • Dedication to reproducible research and open science.

What we offer

  • International work environment
  • Continuous training
  • Flextime
  • Relocation cost support
  • Guest house inside the Campus
  • Agreements with discounts for Gym, Pharmacy, Psychology service and various shops around Ifom area
  • Bar and canteen inside the campus & lunch benefit
  • Company Nursery
  • Continuous support to candidates and their families (including homing, schooling, registration to the national health system, work permit etc.) thanks to the activities of the Welcome office
  • Medical Service
  • Laptop
  • Caf service- tax declaration
  • Lab G: it is a lab specifically designed for pregnant or breastfeeding women researchers

Type of Contract

Annual Renewal fellowship.
The candidate will attend a training course in IFOM. The course lasts 3 years. It is necessary the candidate has not started a PhD Course.
The training program is organized as follow: the first year with Mandatory and Preparatory Courses, second and third year a selection of Advanced Courses on selection. At the end of the program will be issued a formal certification of attendance. Please contact personnel office for the complete study plan.


Milan- Ripamonti area

Contacts Details

Please send your CV to personnel-office[@]ifom.eu

last update: 17/04/23
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