PhD fellowship in Molecular Neuropharmacology

Department of Drug Design and Pharmacology

Faculty of Health and Medical Sciences (SUND)

University of Copenhagen

We are offering a three-year PhD fellowship in Molecular Neuropharmacology. The PhD fellowship is financed by the Lundbeck Foundation and Department of Drug Design and Pharmacology. The fellowship is available from 1 October 2020 or as soon as possible thereafter.

Project description

The PhD project concerns studies into molecular mechanisms of GHB and GHB analogues in relation to neurological disease. GHB is short for gamma-hydroxybutyric acid and is a natural brain metabolite, but also a clinically used drug, and a known drug of abuse (Fantasy). We have recently identified the molecular target for GHB, which is a prominent brain kinase. We hypothesize that the compounds mediate neuroprotective actions by inducing stabilization of the kinase. To explore this hypothesis the PhD project involves three aims:

  Aim 1. In vitro characterization of compound affinity and activity at recombinant and native kinase

  Aim 2. Evaluation of functional activity of compounds in cultured neurons resembling disease states

  Aim 3. In vivo characterization in relevant behavioural assays

Research plan

The research is highly explorative. It involves setting up and running different pharmacological assays using either mammalian cell lines, cultured neurons or tissue homogenate to characterize known and novel compounds. Compounds are developed in collaboration with our in-house medicinal chemistry colleagues. Relevant disease states will be studied using cultured neurons exposed to pathogenic stimuli and/or carrying disease. Finally, data will be followed up in relevant in vivo behavioural mouse models.


Understanding the ligand-target interactions of GHB analogues will improve necessary mechanistic insight and pave the way for future drug development. The overall goal of the PhD project is to promote development of compounds for the treatment of neurological disorders implicating kinase dysfunction.

Principal supervisor
Associate Professor Petrine Wellendorph, Department of Drug Design and Pharmacology,
E-mail:,  direct phone: +45 3533 6397

Our group and research

The Wellendorph group consists of 8-10 members who work in the field of cellular and molecular pharmacology seen in a translational perspective. Our values are collaboration, openness and high scientific integrity. We offer a stimulating, cross-disciplinary, ambitious research environment with aspects of both basic research and innovation, spanning from molecular to in vivo pharmacology.

Our department

The Department of Drug Design and Pharmacology ( delivers drug-related research and research-based teaching within a wide range of drug-related disciplines, spanning the molecular, cellular, and pharmacological levels.

Information about the Department can be found at

Job description
Your key tasks as a PhD fellow at the Faculty of Health and Medical Sciences are to:

  • Carry through an independent research project under supervision
  • Complete PhD courses or other equivalent education corresponding to approx. 30 ECTS points
  • Participate in active research environments including a stay at another research institution, preferably abroad
  • Obtain experience with teaching or other types of dissemination related to your PhD project
  • Participate in the undergraduate teaching of students in pharmaceutical sciences
  • Participate in national and international conferences and scientific meetings
  • Write a PhD thesis on the grounds of your research project

Required qualifications
As an applicant you must have:

  • Obtained a Master´s degree in pharmaceutical sciences or a related area prior to the starting date
  • Strong communication skills and fluency in English
  • A mindset and background apt to integrate chemistry, biology and neuroscience in a broad sense
  • Specific experience with cell-based assays including culturing of neurons
  • FELASA qualifications

Preferred qualifications

We are looking for a highly motivated individual with a strong background in pharmaceutical sciences or related sciences. The candidate must be a team-player and be highly self-motivated and assiduous. Strong communication skills are integral as the project works across different fields and involves a large number of national and international collaborators. Part of the work will include a stay abroad for 3-6 months.

Key criteria for the assessment of applicants

  • Professional qualifications relevant to the PhD project
  • Relevant work experience
  • Publications
  • The grade point average achieved
  • Other professional activities
  • Language skills
  • The successful applicant is also required to be enterprising and to possess good interpersonal skills
    Terms of employment
    The employment as PhD fellow is full time and for 3 years.
    It is conditioned upon the applicant’s successful enrolment as a PhD student at the Graduate School at the Faculty of Health and Medical Sciences, University of Copenhagen. This requires submission and acceptance of an application for the specific project to the Graduate School of Health and Medical Sciences.
    The PhD study must be completed in accordance with The Ministerial Order on the PhD programme (2013) and the Faculty’s rules on achieving the degree.
    The PhD student is expected to be affiliated to the graduate programme in pharmaceutical sciences, Drug Research Academy.
    Salary, pension and terms of employment are in accordance with the agreement between the Ministry of Finance and The Danish Confederation of Professional Associations on Academics in the State. Depending on seniority, the monthly salary begins around DKK 27,594 (approx. 3,679 EUR) (taxable) plus pension (April 2020 level).
    For further information, applicants may contact the principal supervisor Petrine Wellendorph, e-mail:, direct phone: +45 3533 6397, or PhD coordinator Marianne W. Jørgensen, e-mail:, direct phone: +45 3533 6449
    For more information on working and living in Denmark visit (International staff mobility) and
    Application procedure
    Your application, in English, must be submitted electronically by clicking “Apply now” below and must include the following documents in PDF format:
  • Motivated letter of application (max. one page)
  • CV incl. education, experience, language skills and other skills relevant for the position
  • Diploma and transcripts of records: Master´s degree diploma (including grade transcripts for bachelor´s and master´s degrees). If not completed, a certified/signed copy of a recent transcript of records or a written statement from the institution or supervisor will do. Applicants with a Master´s degree from abroad should also enclose a short description of the grading scale used
  • Publication list (if possible)
  • Other information to consider: References and recommendations (if possible)

The deadline for applications is 13 August 2020, 23:59pm CET

We reserve the right not to consider material received after the deadline, and not to consider applications that do not live up to the abovementioned requirements.

The further process

After the expiry of the deadline for applications, the authorised recruitment manager selects applicants for assessment on the advice of the hiring committee. All applicants are then immediately notified whether their application has been passed for assessment by an unbiased assessor.

The assessor makes a non-prioritized assessment of the academic qualifications and experience with respect to the above-mentioned area of research, techniques, skills and other requirements listed in the advertisement.

Once the assessment work has been completed each applicant has the opportunity to comment on the part of the assessment that relates to the applicant him/herself.

The applicant will be assessed according to the Ministerial Order no. 242 of 13 March 2012 on the Appointment of Academic Staff at Universities.

Interviews are expected to be held in week 34.

You can read about the recruitment process at

The Faculty of Health and Medical Sciences comprises approximately 7500 students, 1500 PhD students and 3200 employees. The Faculty advances the field of health sciences through its core activities: research, teaching, knowledge sharing and communication. With basic research fields ranging from molecular studies to studies of society, the Faculty contributes to a healthy future through its graduates, research findings and inventions benefitting patients and the community. The University of Copenhagen wishes to reflect the surrounding community and invites all regardless of personal background to apply for the position.  


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.


Petrine Wellendorph


Application deadline: 13-08-2020
Employment start: 01-10-2020
Working hours: Full time
Department/Location: Department of Drug Design and Pharmacology

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