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SNSF fellowship for postdoc Milica Vulin

27 Jan 2023

Milica Vulin, postdoc in the lab of Anna Obenauf, was awarded a “Postdoc.Mobility” fellowship from the Swiss National Science Foundation (SNSF). The prestigious fellowship will support her research on immune evasion in metastatic lung cancer for the next two years.

Milica Vulin joined the lab of Anna Obenauf as a postdoc in 2022, after completing her PhD at the University of Basel in Switzerland. During her doctoral studies, she investigated the molecular mechanisms of phenotypic plasticity in breast cancer cells. At the IMP, she studies how metastases evade the immune response.

During metastasis, cancer cells spread to other organs, leaving a familiar cellular neighbourhood to settle in a new microenvironment with distinct characteristics. In order to thwart the immune cells in this new home, metastases may develop additional mechanisms that protect them from immune-mediated killing.

“From clinical data, we know that metastases in some organs are more susceptible to immunotherapies than others. For example, lung, brain, or skin metastases respond better to immunotherapies than bone and liver metastases,” explains Milica Vulin.

These observations suggest that the environment in each tissue or organ shapes a patient’s immune response. Vulin will use the clone-tracking tool CaTCH, developed in Anna Obenauf’s lab, to identify the lung cancer clones that metastasise and evade the immune system in specific tissues.

For the next two years, Vulin’s research will be supported by a “Postdoc.Mobility” fellowship from the SNSF. “I am very grateful for this fellowship. I love doing research and this fellowship will allow me take one more step towards gaining independence as a researcher,” says Vulin. These fellowships are aimed at researchers who have completed their doctoral studies in Switzerland and who wish to pursue a postdoc abroad before returning for a scientific career in Switzerland.

Further reading

Research with Anna Obenauf

CaTCH – a molecular time machine for cells