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PhD position – Structure-function analysis of zinc transporting proteins essential for health and disease

A 3-year full-time PhD position is available at the Department of Biomedical Sciences at University of Copenhagen. The starting day of employment will be according to agreement, but the aim is that the selected person will commence work earliest June 2017.


The Department of Biomedical Sciences (BMI) conducts research that seeks to ensure the continued exploration and understanding of organ systems, pathology, pathophysiology and pharmacology. The department is an important factor in basic research from a clinical perspective aimed at improving diagnostics and patient therapies. BMI’s research is therefore often carried out in cooperation with clinical researchers and departments.

The Membrane Protein Structural Biology Group headed by Associate Professor Pontus Gourdon works on structural and functional characterization of membrane proteins that are essential for human health and highly attractive targets in the treatment of disease. The overarching aim is to reveal the molecular principles and determinants of transport processes across cellular membranes. To this end, we use a number of state-of-the-art techniques within membrane protein structural biology to study structure-function relationships.

Job/Study Description:

The main aim of this cutting-edge PhD project is to study cellular processes associated with human zinc transport, a pivotal micronutrient for all living organisms. Transport of transition metals across cellular membranes plays a fundamental role in maintaining homeostasis. The proteins that will be targeted constitute an indispensable family of membrane zinc transporters, which assists in controlling numerous physiological and cellular functions. Moreover, malfunction of these proteins is linked to e.g. severe genetic disorders and cancer. However, the mechanistic basis for their zinc flux remains poorly understood, as no structural information is available. The overarching goal of this research program is to reveal the architecture as well as the molecular mechanisms that govern transport and regulation of these proteins. Positive results will significantly move the frontier in the research field by providing a framework for downstream efforts and allowing rational drug-design.

The selected candidate will employ an interdisciplinary approach centered on X-ray crystallography and using the most recent techniques; from membrane protein overproduction to structure determination. Generated hypotheses will be validated through functional characterization in vivo, in vitro and in silico. The successful applicant will work in the Membrane Protein Structural Biology Group at the BMI, but will be expected to visit European synchrotron radiation facilities occasionally. We are seeking a highly motivated individual interested in a challenging project.

Required qualifications:

  • A master degree in biochemistry (or related discipline) or exam at corresponding level obtained before the start of the employment
  • Fluency in English and excellent communication skills including scientific presentations

 Desired qualifications (four of these are required):

  • Experience in cloning (primer design, PCR etc)
  • Experience in protein overproduction (particularly bacterial and yeast platforms)
  • Experience in protein purification (preferably membrane proteins and exploiting fluorescent tags) using FPLC (such as ÄKTA systems)
  • Experience in protein characterization in vitro and/or in cells
  • Experience in crystallization, X-ray crystallography and structural analysis

 Additional qualifications:

Experience with work on zinc-related proteins will be considered an additional merit.


The research will be performed under the supervision of Associate Professor Pontus Gourdon and Assistant Professor Kamil Gotfryd.


Application Procedure:

Apply by clicking "Søg stillingen" below. Please note that only online applications will be accepted.

 Applications - in English - must include:

  • Cover Letter detailing your motivation and background for applying. Make sure to include a description for why this particular PhD project is interesting for you.
  • CV
  • Diploma and transcripts of records (including grades)
  • Other information for consideration, e.g. list of publications and/or manuscripts (if any), peer reviewed and others
  • Possible references (with contact details) and minimum two letters of recommendation.

The closing date for applications is 23.59 pm, 30 April 2017. Applications received later than this date will not be considered.


Application procedure:
After the expiry of the deadline for applications, the authorized recruitment manager selects applicants for assessment on the advice of the Appointments Committee.  All applicants are then immediately notified whether their application has been passed for assessment. An expert assessment committee is appointed in order to make an assessment of the selected applicants for the specific post. 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 him/herself. You can read about the recruitment process at

Please note that the applicant will be contacted if the assessment committee requires further documentation.

The applicant will be assessed according to the Ministerial Order no. 242 of 13 March 2012 on the Appointment of Academic Staff at Universities and the University of Copenhagen’s 2013 guidelines.

Read about the recruitment process.

 Terms of employment:

The position is offered for a period of three years and employment is governed by the Protocol on PhD Research Fellows signed by the Danish Ministry of Finance and AC (the Danish Confederation of Professional Associations).

 The successful candidate will be requested to formally apply for enrolment as a PhD student at the SUND Graduate School. Employment as a PhD fellow will be conditional on successful enrolment in the PhD programme.


Applicants are encouraged to read more about the research group at For specific information about the position, please contact Associate Professor Pontus Gourdon, Any questions regarding the application process or administrative queries of any kind should be directed to Academic Officer Ragnhild Helene Mostert, e-mail

 For more information on working and living in Denmark:


Part of the International Alliance of Research Universities (IARU), and among Europe’s top-ranking universities, the University of Copenhagen promotes research and teaching of the highest international standard. Rich in tradition and modern in outlook, the University gives students and staff the opportunity to cultivate their talent in an ambitious and informal environment. An effective organisation – with good working conditions and a collaborative work culture – creates the ideal framework for a successful academic career.


Pontus Gourdon


Application deadline: 30-04-2017
Employment type: Limited period
Employment start: 05-06-2017
Department/Location: Dept. of Biomedical Sciences

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