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PhD fellow in Structural Biophysics – The structure of membrane proteins under solution conditions studied by small-angle X-ray and Neutron scattering

A PhD position is available from April 1st, 2018, at the University of Copenhagen, Denmark under the NordForsk funded project “The structure of membrane proteins under solution conditions”.  
 
The project will be supervised by Prof. Lise Arleth (LA) at the Section for X-ray and Neutron Science, Niels Bohr Institute and Prof. Kresten Lindorff-Larsen (KLL) at the Linderstrøm-Lang Centre for Protein Science, Department of Biology, both at the University of Copenhagen. LA’s group focuses on X-ray and neutron small-angle scattering analyses on biomolecular structures and the associated modelling and data analysis. KLL’s group use molecular simulations and develop methods for integration of simulations with experimental data. Both research groups are highly interdisciplinary and international, and the PhD candidate will work in a vibrant and engaging research environment. 
 
The goal of the project is to obtain insight into subtle interplay between a membrane protein and its local lipid membrane and aqueous environments. The project combines molecular dynamics simulations and small-angle X-ray and neutron scattering to investigate their molecular structures. The central focus of the project will be to develop novel Molecular Dynamics based strategies for the structural analysis of small-angle scattering data of membrane protein systems. The project will also include developing novel statistical tools for the integration of heterogeneous sources of data with computer simulations. 
 
The PhD project is part of a larger Nordforsk-funded project that is executed collaboratively also with the research groups of Assoc Prof Marie Skepö (MS), Department of Chemistry at Lund University and Prof Jens Preben Morth (PM), Centre for Molecular Medicine Norway at Oslo University. 
 
The candidate will work with all four groups but be anchored at the Structural Biophysics group at the Section for X-ray and Neutron Science at the Niels Bohr Institute, with Prof Arleth as the main supervisor and Prof Lindorff-Larsen as the co-supervisor. The four groups combine membrane protein molecular and structural biology (PM), X-ray and neutron small-angle scattering methods, SAXS and SANS (LA and MS), and atomistic and coarse-grained molecular dynamics simulations to probe the structure and dynamics of biological molecules (KLL and MS), and development of methods for advanced data analysis (KLL and LA).  
 
The key molecular target of the project is the ATP driven magnesium transporter A, MgtA, from E. coli. The functioning of MgtA is, like for most other membrane proteins, closely linked to the properties of the surrounding lipid membrane and aqueous environments. The PhD project will combine experimental data, obtained in collaboration with PM’s group with molecular simulations conducted in parallel by the LA/KLL and MS groups to shed further light on the relevant processes. The project will focus on MD supported model development of membrane-solvent interaction and development of approaches for validation of the simulations against combined SAXS and contrast variation SANS on e.g. phospholipid bilayer vesicles and nanodiscs. The project will then expand this such that the SAXS/SANS data analysis and modelling of the MgtA can be handled, including incorporation of correct descriptions of protein-water, membrane-water and membrane-protein interfaces.  
 
Outstanding candidates with a strong background in physics, mathematics (applied or mathematical modelling), chemistry or biochemistry are preferred. Strong quantitative skills are essential and the ideal candidate has research interests and/or qualifications in one or more of the following areas: 
 
-Numerical competences, including programming experience and ability to set up advanced computer-simulations and handle large data sets   
 
-Experience in computational aspects of protein chemistry, including hands-on experience in molecular dynamics simulations (atomistic and/or coarse-grained)  
 
-Research experience with small-angle X-ray or neutron scattering on biological samples, preferably membrane protein and/or lipid membrane systems 
 
Applicants must document their successful MSc studies by a high grade point average. If the applicant’s MSc work has resulted in a publication (accepted or in draft) this is considered a strong advantage. Candidates must have good interpersonal and communication skills. Excellent English writing skills are a requirement.  
 
PhD supervisors: Prof Lise Arleth (main supervisor), Niels Bohr Institute, University of Copenhagen (arleth@nbi.ku.dk), and Prof Kresten Lindorff-Larsen (co-supervisor), Department of Biology, University of Copenhagen (lindorff@bio.ku.dk). 
 
Job description: 
Your key tasks as a PhD student at Science are:  
 
Manage and carry through your research project 
Take PhD courses 
Write scientific articles and your PhD thesis 
Participate in workshops and conferences 
Stay at an external research institution for a few months, preferably abroad 
Teach and disseminate your research  
 
Key criteria for the assessment of candidates:  
A master’s degree related to the subject area of the project (Physics, Mathematics, Biochemistry, Chemistry or related fields). 
 
Specific competences relevant to the project. See above list. 
 
The grade point average achieved 
 
Professional qualifications relevant to the PhD programme 
 
Previous publications 
 
Relevant work experience 
 
Other professional activities 
 
Language skills 
 
Formal requirements: The position is available for a 3-year period for applicants holding a relevant master’s degree.  
 
The successful applicant of the PhD scholarship must pass an enrolment in the SCIENCE Graduate School before the Faculty of Science can complete the letter of employment.  
 
Terms of employment 
The position is covered by the Memorandum on Job Structure for Academic Staff. Terms of appointment and payment accord to the agreement between the Ministry of Finance and The Danish Confederation of Professional Associations on Academics in the State.  
 
The starting salary is currently at a minimum DKK 317,448 including annual supplement (+ pension up to DKK 43,848). Negotiation for salary supplement is possible. 
 
Application Procedure 
The application, in English, must be submitted electronically by clicking APPLY NOW   
 
Please include 
Cover Letter detailing your motivation and background for applying for the specific PhD project. 
CV 
Diploma and transcripts of records (BSc and MSc) 
Other information for consideration, e.g. list of publications (if any), 
Full contact details (Name, address, telephone & email) of 1-3 professional referees 
Documentation of English language qualifications, cf. general rules and guidelines, p. 5 
 
Please note that applicants must upload the full application including all of the above sections as a single .pdf file, even if the on-line application system does not explicitly ask this. Please choose the section “application” for upload of the full application 
 
The applicant will be assessed according to the Ministry of Science Technology and Innovation Executive Order no. 1039 of 27 August 2013 PhD Order. 
The University wishes our staff to reflect the diversity of society and thus welcomes applications from all qualified candidates regardless of personal background. 
The deadline for applications is March 9, 2018. Applications received later than this date will not be considered 
 
Procedures and shortlisting: 
After the expiry of the deadline for applications, the authorized recruitment manager selects applicants for assessment on the advice of the Interview Committee. All applicants are then immediately notified whether their application has been passed for assessment by an expert assessment committee. Selected applicants are notified of the composition of the committee and each applicant has the opportunity to comment on the part of the assessment that relates to the applicant himself/herself.The final selection of successful candidates will be made by the Head of Department, based on the recommendations of the assessment committee. 
 
Questions 
General information about PhD programmes at SCIENCE is available at PhD Regulations 
 
For specific information about the PhD scholarship, please contact supervisors, Lise Arleth at arleth@nbi.ku.dk and Kresten Lindorff-Larsen at lindorff@bio.ku.dk.  
 
Application deadline 9/03/2018 
APPLY NOW

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Info

Application deadline: 09-03-2018
Employment start: 01-04-2018
Working hours: Full time
Department/Location: Niels Bohr Institutet

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